PTE is definitely unique in the way it assesses language proficiency. It marks a candidate through an automated scoring software that evaluates the test completely without any human assessment. So, in other words, your PTE test has no window for emotional empathy that may impact your score, for better or worse.
Any hint of inarticulation in your answer will definitely show on your overall score. If speaking “the language” is a problem for you, the only solution is to genuinely improve on it; all the while capitalizing on your strengths and developing your weaker skills, to get the optimum score on your PTE Academic.
Speaking section of the PTE test is based on two key elements that you will most definitely need to have in your repertoire, ‘Fluency’ and ‘Pronunciation’.
We, like most PTE experts will recommend you not to focus too much on content, primarily for two reasons. A) Because content can draw your focus away from fluency and pronunciation; and B) in effort to complete speaking a dense piece of content, you may risk losing track of the required emphasis (stress) that gives the language its tone (tip: make sure you ‘sound’ right!)
“Oral fluency” is measured by the “flow” of speech and correct use of the language (i.e. grammar). “Pronunciation”, at the same time, is measured by clear and natural articulation that is understandable to the native speaker of the language.
Now, if you’re out in search of a magic trick that will solve your language problem, then we’re afraid there isn’t such a trick! However, there is a “technique”.
There are plenty of things you can do to improve your language and subsequently increase your potential score. One has to understand that a language has to be grasped fully in order to be fluent (or “substantially” at least) in order to become a fluent speaker of it; and yet it can also be learnt in smaller chunks or premises like syllables, vowels, verbs, nouns and adverbs.
If you do not wish to go deeper into the theory of grammar, you can still get a grip over the language simply by listening to words, phrases, and sentences repeatedly, either by speaking out aloud yourself or listening to some other orator (tip: listen to public or professional speakers) using their speech as a guide.
PTE exam highly evaluates those whose language can be called ‘listener friendly’
Now the question is, who is the listener here?
A computer! (most potential PTE test-takers probably know that by now)
To give you a better picture of it, a candidate during a PTE exam sits face-front to a computer, while speaking into a headset microphone that records the candidate’s speech. PTE academic like we said, is based on technology hardwired to understand-assess-and evaluate “native” English language.
No need to be alarmed though; “native” here does not mean the same accent that the native speaker speaks in. Native here means the same rhythm(flow) and melody(sound) that is inculcated in a native speaker's language.
Most language proficiency exams will merit an individual based on his or her capacity to understand and comprehend academic(taught) subjects. It is thus essential for these exams to set “natural speech” as a parameter of assessment. PTE exam is no different!
Reading aloud section tests the candidate’s ‘natural speech’ where in particular emphasis is laid on ‘flow’ and ‘sound’ of the language.
(tip: sit in front of a mirror and read out to yourself, enough practice and self-assessment will positively reflect on your pronunciations as well)
Another speciality of the PTE Academic exam is this topic called “describe an image” where the test assesses the test-taker’s capacity to comprehend ‘graphic’ material like graphs, charts, maps etc.
How to describe an image?
To describe an image accurately, you must first be familiar with basic terms that most of us have learned in school, and their relevance to the diagram shown.
For eg. you’re expected to be familiar with the terms ‘horizontal axis’, ‘vertical axis’ and know where to find X and Y axis, also what exactly each of them represents on the graph.
Also, matters like what is the highest and lowest co-ordinate and where to find them.
Period of time like years/ decades are usually set on the X-axis.
Once you are clear with all the fundamentals, you must then concentrate on describing them as accurately as possible using the right terms in conjunction with appropriate verbs, nouns and adverbs.
This topic matter is clearly focused on assessing the test-takers academic ability, and so it is essential for a candidate to have at least rudimentary knowledge on the given topic.
On the test, you may have to deal with various other kinds of data in various other formats like tabular format, bar graph, or pie charts, regional maps, and so forth. It does not necessarily mean that you should to be able to comprehend all data specifically, rather, the try to simplify the data given and put it into simple phrases.
(tip: you’re allowed to go a bit off-topic, as long as your flow is natural and your pronunciation is up to the mark)
Most PTE Test-takers have at least once been recommended to not focus too much on ‘content’ (especially those who’re not well-versed with the language). However, all must note that all three of them i.e. fluency, content and pronunciation carry the same number of marks, and contribute equally to the candidate’s overall score.
If you’ve been practising speech and pronunciation for some time, then we’re sure you are already getting better at it. These two skills will stand by your throughout your PTE Academic speaking test and keep you confident till the end. As we mentioned, it is important to note that ‘content’ carries the same number of marks on the speaking test as oral fluency and pronunciation, and so the test-takers (at least those who’re well-versed with the language) are to plan accordingly. The Re-tell lecture session is where you can give a bit more attention to content while maintaining a high quality of the other two elements; the combination of all three simply mean ‘better scores’ for you!
How do you make your content sound better?
- The first tip is, concentrate on the ‘keywords’ being said during the lecture, while you jot them down on the erasable notepad that will be provided to you. In other words, lay as much emphasis as you can on the key-words, phrases, sentences, or little chunks of words that sound “important” to you or hold all the gist of the lecture.
- The second tip is - build your content, which is really your “answer” to the question, around these keywords. The more key-points (mentioned in the lecture) you include in your answer, the more likely you are to get a perfect score.
Furthermore, how do you make out what is “important” in the lecture and what is not?
The answer is “simply, by the sound of it”!
You can easily get a hang of it by repeatedly listening to a native English speaker. (sub-tip: PTE Academic is as much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘speaking’)
There are abundant resources of course (Movies, BBC, Television shows etc.) that you may find really helpful, without having to pay any extra amount of money. Here you can listen to professional narrators and easily pick up on their overtones. If you listen to them closely and for a substantial period of time, these overtones may easily get ingrained in your knowledge and can ultimately improve your language overall.
But before you begin, you must first get into the habit of listening closely to the speaker, which by itself can very well be considered a separate skill that will go a long way in your overall language development.
Practise this by listening to native speakers and take mental notes of the pitch changes (higher or lower) in their voices, laying stress on a particular word, phrase with a pitch change on the crucial syllable.
These crucial syllables(words) happen to be your keywords, so naturally a group of such syllables strung together make up your key-phrases or sentences. Once you’ve taken note of all the keywords there are, you must then frame all the relevant bits of the lecture around specific key-points.
A person can only mimic/repeat/or imitate language up to a certain number of words (up to 5 words maybe), without having understood a single word. According to this rule, ‘repeat-a-sentence is strictly a ‘language’ assessment test, since the test-taker has to necessarily understand the meaning of each or most words spoken, to be able to reconstruct it in more or less the exact same order. What really matters in this test is your capacity to understand more number of words and/or comprehend a larger group of syllables of the language. A test-taker should probably expect common words and phrases that are routinely used by speakers of the language.
There is no short route to getting the best score in PTE exam without having practised the language, and yet we believe there is a way you can learn and practise under special guidance of our PTE certified coaching staff who’ve guided many students towards PTE success. You’re always welcomed at Aussizz!
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