A problem that candidates for the PTE test often encounter is the speed needed to complete the writing section of the test. This is not only due to the thinking time needed to compile and revise the answers but the fact that the test is typed, and individuals vary in their typing speed. It may not seem fair that those candidates with a faster typing speed could have an advantage. This article will answer some of your questions about typing speed, give you some strategies to put in place and put this problem into context so that you will develop an idea of how fast you need to type and also to reassure you that even the slowest typers among you really don’t need to worry!
In which sections of the test could typing speed be an issue?
Writing section: Essay task
Writing section: Summarize written text task
Listening section: Fill in the blanks/dictation
The reason that typing speed may feel like an issue in these areas is that there is a set time to type your answer. The section where most people would struggle with this would be the essay section as the candidate is required to write up to 300 words in 20 minutes. Some candidates feel that this is just not enough time to complete the task and this leads to anxiety which in turn detracts from producing good written content.
What speed do I need to type?
However, if we break this down, we can see that typing speed does not have to be such a problem. An average essay would be 250 words and you would have 15 minutes to complete it, taking into account planning and editing time of 5 minutes. This would mean that you would be required to type up to 16 -17 words per minute. I think it is fair to say that most people taking the test would be able to type at this speed. Have a practice to find out how many words on average you type in a minute or have a try at completing an online typing speed test.
Is your speed more than 16 words? If so, your problem may not be with typing speed as you suspected! Looking at typing speed in detail like this helps to show that often this difficulty is in your own mind and actually a bit of a myth. Once you know this and stop worrying about it, your brain power can be directed to where it needs to go: coming up with excellent written content for your essay.
What else could be slowing me down?
Aside from the anxiety about your typing speed getting in the way of your thinking, the fact is that the main thing slowing you down is simply formulating your written response. There are so many important elements to consider when writing an essay, that your thinking can become overwhelmed and it becomes difficult to write at pace. You are developing an understanding of the topic and question put to you, considering the structure of the essay, generating ideas, attempting to write in an engaging manner in accurate English; all in 20 minutes! It’s no wonder you feel as though you are struggling for time.
How can I speed up?
So, assuming that your typing speed is above 16 words per minute, what strategies could you employ to make sure that you complete the essay task within the time allocated.
1. Practice using a topic sentence to come up with ideas for an essay
At the start of an essay writing task, many candidates report that they struggle with coming up with the ideas to base their essay upon. You may not be feeling your most creative in an exam situation and sometimes your mind just goes blank! As well as using sample materials to practice essays for this part of the test, put some revision time aside to read some example topic sentences and generate ideas for a potential essay in a few minutes as you would do if you were writing an actual essay. This will help to familiarize you with the process. For arguments and ideas read our PTE Sample Essays.
2. Stick to a writing formula
It is always a good idea to be clear about the structure of your writing before you start your essay so that you don’t go off track. If you always write your essays according to the same structure, you will get used to this and it will keep you focused. You will know that, for example, you will be writing an introduction, 2 main body paragraphs and a conclusion and in a general sense, the types of things that you would write in each paragraph.
3. Jot down a plan
Spend a couple of minutes at the start sketching out a simple plan based around your structure, briefly stating the key points of each paragraph. Be assured that this time will not be wasted. On the contrary, it will save you ‘thinking time’ during the essay.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to realize that typing speed need not be a worry in the PTE test, even when it comes to the essay writing section. If you are typing at a speed of less than 16 words per minute, then you will need to practice your typing skills. There are plenty of online resources which can help you to do this. However, if you are typing at a speed higher than this then it is time to address what is really slowing you down. Our 3 tips will help you to write effectively and quickly and gain the score that you deserve in the PTE writing.