Does the thought of completing a computer-based test make you panic? You are certainly not the only one. Even in our technological age, we can feel more in control with a pen and paper in an exam situation. Computer-based exams are the future though so we may as well get used to them. As long as you are prepared, there will be little to worry about and you’ll soon realise that you have nothing to fear from the computer!
Most of us are used to using computers these days. If you have very little practice in using a computer then, of course, it would be a good idea to get some. The basics that you will need to be comfortable with are typing (you don’t need to be very fast), using a mouse and cursor for various functions, listening with headphones and speaking into a microphone. However, as long as you have the very basic IT skills and you follow our expert advice then you will be just fine.
Other worries about being under-prepared for the test in addition to concerns about the technology can lead us to think that we won’t be able to achieve a good score. The best way to address these issues is to engage in regular, effective online practice of the tests. We will look at some of the common concerns in terms of online practice and preparation identified by PTE candidates and suggest some solutions.
Common Concerns & Solutions
#Concern 1: I don’t know which sample materials to use
There are many practice materials available for the PTE, online and in hardcopy. Sometimes, it feels as if there is too much choice. Also, some materials are better than others and you can find yourself confused and overwhelmed when deciding which materials to use. Consequently, your revision may become disjointed and inefficient.
Choose a package of practice materials and stick to it. First, do your research, looking at the different resources available; set some time aside for this at the beginning. Importantly, once you have finished your research, choose a set of materials that include sample questions and practice tests as well as any other revision materials that you feel would be relevant to you personally and ideally online tuition. At this stage, avoid constant online searches for more information as you can end up becoming overloaded and this detracts from your focus. Once you have your package, concentrate on your study programme rather than finding more resources.
#Concern 2: It’s hard to find time to practice
Candidates for the PTE will all have different lives and schedules with a variety of responsibilities and time constraints. For many, it is difficult to fit in ample study time and to devise a realistic study schedule that works alongside a busy life.
Design your own personalised study programme. Only you know what works for you. Sketch it out on a notepad or spreadsheet. Include time for different elements of study. This should include: revision of specific areas of grammar and vocabulary, practicing sample questions from each section of the test and taking entire online practice tests. Finding packages with an online educational service works best for those who need a flexible study schedule. You won’t need to go to any classes at set times and you can fit in your practice in the morning before work or college or after the kids have gone to bed in the evening! Just login whenever you have some free-time, even if it is 20 minutes and the study time will soon add up.
#Concern 3: My practice does not prepare me for the real test
Anyone who has ever taken a test knows that however much revision and practice you have done, when you are in a test situation, things suddenly feel different. It is hard to get used to the actual experience that you have in a test. Even if you have put a lot of work into repeatedly practicing test questions, it is not the same as taking the whole test in one go.
This is a very sensible concern. You certainly don’t want to show up on test day without having tried out taking a test all the way through. Sign up for a package that gives you online access to practice tests and make sure that you work them into your revision programme. If you had a go at 1 practice test per week, then worked on the areas for improvement from that test in between each practice, you would soon see advancement and you would feel much more confident in the actual test, having done it many times already!
#Concern 4: I find it hard to complete the task in the time given
Each task has a time-limit and as the test is computerised, there is no leeway with the timings. This can cause students to feel pressurised and worried that the strict time-limits will detract from their capacity to show their skills and put them off so that feel stressed in the test-situation.
This is a common concern and the solution to this is pretty simple: practice. Taking online practice tests and practising individual questions will get you used to the timings for the tasks. Take note of the tasks for which there didn’t seem to be enough time for you to complete, and you can work on them again, increasing your time each session. Additionally, have a look at the analysis of the practice test when you have finished to see how your time management is going. If there are tasks where there is plenty of time, check that you are covering everything that you need to. Don’t let bad time-management affect your score. Your English proficiency is what is being tested but you need to have good time management skills to show off your language aptitude.
Have a look at our PTE writing correction resources on our website and our expert PTE coaching to guide you in your online practice and get fully prepared for the PTE. Preparation is the key to success!