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PTE Speaking Tips

Marking criteria

All but one of the Speaking item types (or tasks) on the Pearson Test of English (PTE) evaluate your English according to the following Enabling Skills:

  1. Pronunciation Your ability to accurately produce sounds and words. This includes correct pronunciation of vowels, consonants, having correct word stress, sentence stress and intonation.

  2. Oral Fluency Your ability to speak smoothly, effortlessly and naturally with correct rhythm, phrasing and stress. This means speaking without pauses, repetitions, false starts or hesitations.

  3. Content Depends on the item type, but this skill refers to speaking accurately and thoroughly about the topic (image/lecture/paragraph), including all main points and elements.

Our students

Numerous students of English Key have been able to achieve the maximum score of 90 for Speaking – it’s not as impossible as it may seem! When asked for the key to their speaking success, we always receive the same answer: just keep speaking! Oral Fluency is key to the speaking section of PTE, however many students are nervous about the speaking section. If this is you, follows these tips:

  1. Don’t worry about using fancy words – use the English you know

  2. Don’t worry if you make a mistake – correct yourself and keep going

  3. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about the topic – say what you can

Overall: Just try your best and keep speaking!

How to improve your Oral Fluency


Confidence is key to fluent speech. To improve your confidence for PTE Academic, you need to study each item type and the vocabulary needed for each task. For example, the Describe Image item type will require vocabulary to describe different images such as: graphs, charts, maps, etc. The better you know the vocabulary, the more confident you will be each time you do a task and the more fluently you will speak. You can get to know each item type ‘back to front’ by attending a PTE coaching course at English Key. Each of our classes focuses on a section of the test – Speaking, Writing, Reading, Listening – and the specific items within each section.

Don’t pause

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in the speaking is pausing or hesitating. Don’t forget: the microphone switches off after 3 seconds of silence! Shorter pauses also affect your score and often quite severely. So even if you aren’t sure what to say, or if you think you’ve made a mistake, correct yourself straight away and keep talking. Don’t let it stop you!


To help practice your speaking, take a look at the tips in our blog entry on how to improve your speaking and furthermore, join a PTE Academic preparation course at English Key. With the guidance of our experienced and professional teachers, you can achieve your target.

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