Everybody makes mistakes. Fact. And everybody makes mistakes in tests. Fact. Even the best English language learners with loads of revision and practice under their belt will make mistakes in the PTE test. Fact. So don’t beat yourself up about making errors. Tests are stressful situations where it is easy to slip-up. What you can do, though, is try to minimise your mistakes and to develop an awareness of the types of mistakes that candidates frequently make.

As language coaches, here at Benchmark Education, we have the inside information you need about the mistakes that commonly occur. The great thing is that several of these common mistakes that bring down the overall PTE score can be easily avoided. They are not always a reflection of poor English proficiency. They may be concentration issues, problems associated with exam technique or just bad habits that you have got into without realizing.

We will look at each section of the PTE in turn and provide a comprehensive list of mistakes that we see VERY often. As you read through the lists, why not have a think about your own performance in your practice tests and questions and identify those errors that you think you have made or would be likely to make yourself. Make a note of these areas and you will know which mistakes to focus on in your practice tests so that you make sure that they don’t happen on test day.

PTE Practice

The Reading Section
– Misunderstanding the question because it has not been read correctly
– Thinking that you must know the meaning of ALL of the words in the texts in order to be able to adequately answer the questions
– Reading every word in all the tasks rather than using skimming and scanning skills where appropriate
– Highlighting more than one or all of the answer options in the multiple-choice answer sections rather than one only
– Spelling words incorrectly in your answers
– Using incorrect words or incorrect grammar in your answers
– Leaving the answer box empty without anything written there

The Listening Section
– Losing concentration and missing what the speaker has said
– Running out of time due to failing to check the time-limit
– Expecting the recording to be played a second time when in fact it is only played once
– Rushing to complete the answer and choosing the wrong option
– Leaving the answer blank
– Focusing on the parts of the recording that you did not hear or understand when it has moved on to the next part
– Using incorrect spelling in the missing word tasks

The Writing Section
– Failing to include an introduction and conclusion
– Misunderstanding the topic or the question
– Spelling words incorrectly
– Making grammatical mistakes such incorrect article and tense use
– Writing under or over the word limit
– Incorrect punctuation use
– Word choice that does not work in the context
– Using informal writing
– Not using a variety of conjunctions
– Forgetting to include examples
– Writing the answer for the summarize written tasks in more than one sentence
– Not reading through and proofreading the essay at the end

The Speaking Section
– Lack of intonation and tone
– Speaking overly fast or slowly
– Speaking overly loudly or quietly
– Pausing too often and for too long
– Filling pauses with sounds like um, er or words such as like or and
– Grammatical errors such as tense, article use and verb agreement
– Forgetting to pause for punctuation
– Self-correcting
– Repetition
– Starting to speak before the tone

Do any of these mistakes sound familiar? Be honest with yourself. The fact that they are listed as the most common mistakes shows how natural it is to make these mistakes in a second language test and these errors are often made in the PTE test. Work on those that you know you make when you are practicing and see if you can start to make less of them over time. After some revision and by addressing the errors that you identified, have another look at the list of mistakes again. Hopefully you will have chalked some off your list each time and by test day, you’ll know which mistakes to watch out for!

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