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PTE Tips: Common Mistakes

Can’t get your perfect PTE Academic score? Speaking letting you down? Make sure you are avoiding these common mistakes!

Our teachers at English Key Melbourne have been teaching PTE coaching courses for a long time now, and we have noted down some common mistakes our students make with PTE Academic Speaking – especially with the Describe Image and Re-Tell Lecture items. Make sure you avoid these common mistakes so you can ace your PTE exam!

Don’t overuse the preposition “about”!

A common mistake among test takers is overusing the word “about” after verbs:

e.g.: The graph shows about… INCORRECT!

This is INCORRECT! For Describe Image, only use the word “about” with the verb TO BE:

e.g. The graph is about population growth in various Latin American countries.

For Re-tell Lecture, you can use the word “about” with TO SPEAK and TO TALK:

e.g. The lecturer spoke about…

e.g. The speaker talked about…

So as a rule remember:


Such as:

Use the correct tense!

In the Describe Image item type, many students overuse the PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE to describe images.

e.g. The graph is showing INCORRECT

This is incorrect. The correct form for your introduction sentence is the PRESENT SIMPLE.

e.g. The graph shows CORRECT

After that, depending on the type of image, you may have to use the PAST SIMPLE or the FUTURE tense.

For graphs, charts, tables, or anywhere data is displayed, pay attention to the year it is from. Then ask yourself:

  1. Is the data from a date in the past? Yes? Use the PAST SIMPLE If it’s not in the past, ask yourself:

  2. Does it show a date in the future? Yes? Use the FUTURE

  3. Is no date mentioned? Use the PRESENT SIMPLE

But BE CAREFUL: Some graphs or charts will include dates from both the past AND the future! For example:

So make sure you use both PAST AND FUTURE tenses to talk about each section – what happened in the past, and what they predict for the future.

Stay tuned to this blog an example of how to talk about graphs/charts that provide data predictions about the future.

Avoid pauses, repetitions, hesitations and false starts!

The most important thing for the long-answer speaking items is: keep speaking! Your score here relies a lot on your Oral Fluency.

What is Oral Fluency? Oral Fluency is your ability to speak naturally, easily and continuously. Just like a native speaker does. If you pause, hesitate or repeat yourself, the computer that marks your test thinks that it’s because your English is bad, so practice speaking as continuously as possible.

Start practice!

Start your PTE Academic preparation course today by joining a course at English Key Melbourne today.

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