Know Which Part of PTE is Difficult and How to Prepare

The journey towards achieving English language proficiency is exciting and challenging. For many individuals, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) is a significant milestone in this pursuit, offering a comprehensive evaluation of language skills necessary for academic and professional success.

However, navigating through the complexities of the PTE exam sometimes poses formidable obstacles. Understanding which parts of the exam are particularly challenging and knowing how to prepare effectively makes all the difference in achieving your desired score.

This article will dissect each section to identify common pain points and offer strategic insights on overcoming them. 

Whether you're struggling with the speaking, writing, listening, or reading components, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to tackle the exam confidently.

Now, let’s explore the nuances of the PTE exam, uncovering the secrets to success and empowering you to maximize your potential.

The Most Challenging Sections of PTE

From a test-taker's perspective, the most challenging sections of the PTE exam often revolve around speaking and writing, followed closely by listening and reading. 

Here's why these sections are considered difficult:

1. Speaking in a timed environment, especially when it involves tasks like summarizing spoken text or describing images, can be daunting. Test-takers must organize their thoughts quickly, articulate them clearly, and demonstrate fluency and pronunciation—all while adhering to strict time constraints.

Moreover, complex vocabulary and varied sentence structures are essential to scoring well in this section, adding another layer of difficulty.

2. Writing - Composing written responses under pressure is a significant challenge for many test-takers. Tasks such as essay writing require a strong command of grammar and vocabulary and the ability to structure ideas coherently and express them effectively within a limited word count.

Moreover, the automated scoring system of the PTE evaluates not just the content but also the overall organization, coherence, and logical development of ideas, making it imperative for test-takers to master both the content and the presentation of their writing.

3. Listening - The listening section of the PTE demands focused attention and quick processing of auditory information. Test-takers must accurately comprehend spoken passages, lectures, and conversations, often dealing with accents and varying speech speeds.

Furthermore, tasks like summarizing spoken text or completing transcripts require grasping key points while filtering out irrelevant details, which requires practice and concentration.

4. Reading - The reading section assesses the test-taker's ability to comprehend and analyze written passages within a limited timeframe. The challenge lies not only in understanding the main ideas and supporting details but also in identifying the writer's purpose, tone, and perspective.

Moreover, tasks like multiple-choice and single-answer questions require careful consideration of each option, making it crucial to distinguish between subtle nuances in meaning.

Evidently, each section is difficult because of a combination of cognitive demands, time pressure, and the need for proficiency in various language skills. Adequate preparation, including targeted practice and familiarity with the exam format, helps test-takers overcome these challenges and perform optimally on the PTE exam.

Targeted Practice Techniques for Each Section

Targeted practice techniques are essential for honing specific skills required for each section of the PTE exam. Here's a detailed breakdown of effective practice strategies for each section:

1. Speaking

  • Record and Review - Record yourself responding to practice prompts and listen to your recordings critically. Pay attention to pronunciation, fluency, and coherence. Identify areas for improvement and make targeted adjustments in subsequent practice sessions.

  • Imitate Native Speakers - Listen to recordings of native English speakers and try to mimic their intonation, rhythm, and stress patterns. This can help improve your overall speaking fluency and naturalness.

  • Practice with Timers - Mimic exam conditions by practicing speaking tasks within the allocated time limits. This will help you develop the ability to organize your thoughts quickly and deliver concise responses.

  • Receive Feedback - If possible, seek feedback from teachers, tutors, or language exchange partners. They can provide valuable insights into areas you may need to improve and offer constructive suggestions for enhancement.

2. Writing

  • Plan and Outline - Before writing your response, take a few moments to plan and outline your ideas. This will help you structure your writing coherently and ensure your arguments flow logically.

  • Focus on Grammar and Vocabulary - Pay close attention to grammar and vocabulary usage in your practice writing. Practice using a variety of sentence structures and incorporating complex vocabulary to demonstrate proficiency.

  • Edit and Revise - Set aside time to review and revise your written responses. Look for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, and make necessary corrections. This will help you develop the habit of producing polished, error-free writing under timed conditions.

  • Practice Different Task Types - Familiarize yourself with the various writing tasks in the PTE exam, such as essays, summaries, and prompt responses. Practice each type extensively to become comfortable with the specific requirements and expectations.

3. Listening

  • Active Listening—Practice active listening by listening to a variety of English audio materials, such as podcasts, TED Talks, and news broadcasts. Focus on understanding main ideas, supporting details, and speaker attitudes.

  • Take Notes - Develop effective note-taking strategies to capture critical points while listening to audio recordings. This will help you retain information and refer to it when answering questions.

  • Predict Answers - Anticipate possible answers or responses based on the audio content before seeing the options provided in the exam. This will sharpen your listening comprehension skills and improve your ability to infer meaning from context.

  • Use Practice Tests - Take advantage of practice tests and exercises specifically designed to simulate the listening section of the PTE exam. This will familiarize you with the format and types of questions you'll encounter, helping you feel more confident on test day.

4. Reading

  • Skim and Scan - Practice skimming and scanning techniques to quickly identify main ideas, key points, and relevant details in written passages. This will help you manage your time effectively during the exam.

  • Analyze Structure - Pay attention to the organization and structure of written passages. Practice identifying introductory paragraphs, topic sentences, and supporting evidence to improve your comprehension of complex texts.

  • Expand Vocabulary - Build your vocabulary by reading various English texts, including academic articles, newspapers, and literature. Please pay attention to unfamiliar words and try to learn their meanings and usage in context.

  • Practice Synthesizing Information - Practice summarizing and synthesizing information from multiple sources. This will help you develop the skills to answer summary and multiple-choice questions accurately.

By incorporating these targeted practice techniques into your study routine, you can strengthen your skills in each section of the PTE exam and maximize your chances of success on test day.

Remember to practice consistently, focus on areas where you need improvement, and monitor your progress over time.

Strategies for Effective Preparation

Adequate preparation for the PTE exam requires a strategic approach that addresses each section comprehensively. Here’s how you can start:

1. Understand the Exam Format

  • Familiarize yourself with the format and structure of the PTE exam. Understand each section's types of questions, time limits, and scoring criteria.

  • Review official PTE preparation materials and practice tests to understand what to expect on exam day.

2. Create a Study Plan

  • Develop a study plan that outlines specific goals, timelines, and study materials for each exam section.

  • Allocate sufficient time to practice, review, and reinforce key concepts and skills.

3. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Assess your current level of proficiency in each language skill tested in the PTE exam (speaking, writing, listening, reading).

  • Identify areas where you excel and areas that need improvement to tailor your study plan accordingly.

4. Practice Regularly

  • Practice consistently using various PTE preparation materials, including free practice tests, sample questions, and interactive exercises.

  • Incorporate timed and untimed practice sessions to develop fluency, accuracy, and confidence in each section.

5. Focus on Weak Areas

  • Allocate extra time and resources to areas where you struggle the most. For example, if you find speaking challenging, dedicate more practice time to speaking tasks and seek feedback from tutors or language partners.

  • Use diagnostic tests and self-assessment tools to identify weaknesses and track your progress.

6. Review and Analyze Mistakes

  • Review practice tests and analyze your mistakes to understand the underlying reasons for errors.

  • Identify patterns or recurring mistakes and work on addressing them through targeted practice and review.

7. Develop Test-Taking Strategies

  • Learn effective test-taking strategies for each section of the exam, such as time management techniques, educated guessing, and process of elimination.

  • Practice strategies like skimming and scanning for the reading section, note-taking for the listening section, and structuring responses for the speaking and writing sections.

8. Simulate Exam Conditions

  • During practice sessions, simulate exam conditions as closely as possible. Practice in environments with minimal distractions and adhere to time limits for each section.

  • Take full-length practice tests under timed conditions to build stamina and endurance for the exam.


Navigating the challenges of the PTE exam requires a strategic blend of preparation, practice, and perseverance. By understanding which parts of the exam pose the most significant difficulty and implementing targeted preparation techniques, test-takers can enhance their performance and maximize their chances of success.

From the intricacies of speaking and writing to the demands of listening and reading, each section of the PTE exam presents its challenges. However, these challenges can be overcome with diligent practice, effective study strategies, and a commitment to improvement.

By creating a structured study plan, focusing on weaknesses, and honing test-taking strategies, individuals can build the skills and knowledge needed to excel on exam day.

Ultimately, success on the PTE exam is not just about mastering English language proficiency but also about developing the resilience and adaptability to tackle any obstacle that comes your way.

With the right mindset and preparation, test-takers can confidently navigate the complexities of the PTE exam and achieve their desired scores.

Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is the difficult task in PTE?

The speaking section of the PTE exam is often considered the most challenging task due to its time constraints and requirements for fluency, pronunciation, and coherence.

Q2. What is the best way to prepare for PTE?

The best way to prepare for the PTE exam is to practice regularly using official preparation materials, simulate exam conditions, focus on weaknesses, and utilize effective test-taking strategies.

Q3. Which part is more important in PTE?

While all sections of the PTE exam are essential, achieving proficiency in speaking and writing is particularly crucial as they assess communication skills and the ability to convey ideas effectively.

Q4. What is the difficulty level of the PTE exam?

The difficulty level of the PTE exam varies depending on individual proficiency levels and preparation efforts. Still, it is considered moderately challenging, requiring a comprehensive understanding of English language skills and familiarity with the exam format.