It has now been a couple of months since I took the PTE exam for the second time, but I still find myself thinking about it quite a lot. It’s not so much a test as an experience— one I am not likely to forget anytime soon! My PTE adventure was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster (read about how I failed the PTE and then got a PTE 90), and in the end, I took away two very important lessons. I would like to share them with you here because I think they’re important to consider before you go in. I sure wish I had known them before I wrote the PTE exam for the first time!
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PTE Exam Secret #1: You can’t just “wing it”
The first time I took the PTE exam, I assumed that as a native speaker I could just “see how it would go” and still come out with top marks. Unfortunately, I was very wrong, and this was reflected in my scores. Here is the problem: many people think to themselves “I speak great English, I have top marks in English at school and I practice with my friends all the time! An English proficiency test should be a piece of cake!” Here is the problem with that logic: English proficiency tests are not just about English.
There you have it, the secret is out! Remember, the PTE exam exists to assess your ability to operate in a completely English environment, be it a workplace, a university or a training program, and to do this you must be skilled at critical thinking, social interaction and problem-solving. My old French teacher used to say, “it’s one thing to speak another language. It’s another to be yourself in another language”. I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken. Not only do you need to prove your proficiency, you need to prove your skills and strengths in a language that is not your own.
What you can do:
You’re smart. I know you’re smart. You know you’re smart. You can do this, even if it seems frustrating and discouraging. All you need to do is skill build and practice, and all that takes is time, patience, and a bit of determination! Here is a magic formula that will help get you get there:
1. Assess your skill level. Find practice questions and material (a great place to start is our PTE free trial) and get a sense of what the PTE exam questions will look like and what you find challenging. One thing that we see a lot at E2Language is people who are unrealistic about their skill level and their timeline. They are completely lost and confused about the PTE test format, yet they’ve booked their test for the next week and are determined that they can improve in an extremely short period of time.
IF YOU ARE IN THIS SITUATION, PLEASE RECONSIDER WHAT YOU ARE DOING!! This kind of thinking is a recipe for disaster. I know there are deadlines, I know you think you need to do it sooner rather than later, but it is NOT worth failing the PTE and losing confidence just because you wanted to get the exam over with.