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How to prepare for the PTE essay writing task

The PTE exam includes 4 main sections: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. You will do the speaking and writing tasks together in part one of the exams. While your writing will be assessed in your answers to other tasks, there are only two specific writing tasks: summarize a written text and write an essay.   

The PTE essay writing task aims to test your grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and written discourse skills. Therefore, it’s important that you understand this section, and what’s expected before going into the exam.  

If you’re looking for some tips and guidance on how to approach this part, look no further! 

Read on to find out what the essay writing task is about, how to approach it, and what the examiners are looking for. 

Essay Writing Task Structure 

For this task, you will receive a 2 to 3 line prompt stating an opinion or statement. Prompts can be written in a number of ways.  

For example, you may have to discuss problems or solutions, or argue for or against an opinion: 

Pearson PTE Preparation Path 

Similarly, you might need to discuss whether you agree or disagree with a statement:  

Find more example essay writing prompts on our Instagram page

Following this, you must write an essay in 200-300 words answering the question. The essay should be formed of an introductory paragraph, two main paragraphs which develop an idea, and a conclusion.  

You only have 20 minutes to plan, write and check your essay. Therefore, it’s vital that you practice this task a number of times before the exam.  

Write your essay in 3 simple steps 

Now you know what the essay requires, we’re going to show you how to write it in 3 easy steps.  

  1. Analyze the prompt and plan  

Before starting, we recommend that you analyze the prompt to get the important information. Make sure to check what the question is asking you to do e.g. agree or disagree with a statement.  

Moreover, check what the topic is, the key points you need to cover, and the arguments to present.  

Pearson PTE Preparation Path  

Following this, you need to decide which side of the argument you will write about. Then, you can create a rough plan of the content and structure you’d like your essay to follow. You may want to write a couple of ideas down about the opinion or thoughts you’d like to include.  

You may want to structure your essay in the following way:  

  • Introduction - introduce the topic and any information surrounding it 

  • Paragraph 1 - one idea supporting your argument  

  • Paragraph 2 - another idea supporting your argument / or offer a counter argument 

  • Conclusion - a short summary of your ideas that have led to your conclusion and why.  

Planning is a crucial part of the exam task - it will make writing the essay much quicker. But remember, you don’t have much time so keep it short. 

2. Write the essay 

Now you’ve got your plan ready and you know what you’re going to write, it’s time to get started.  

When approaching this task, it’s important that you show the examiners your ability to write an academic essay in English. This means you provide clear descriptions, remove any ambiguities, express subtleties in meaning and use stylistic features to communicate ideas.  

Furthermore, you should demonstrate your range of vocabulary and grammar. You are more likely to receive a higher score if you use complex sentence structures and vocabulary correctly.  

The use of idiomatic expressions or colloquialisms will help you score well, but don’t use too many as they may take away from the academic style. Remember that the best responses use academic terms and avoid repetition of words by using synonyms where appropriate.  

For example, you may want to consider these expressions or linkers when writing your essay: 

  • Useful phrases to introduce a point - In view of; in light of; considering 

  • Introducing the views of an author - According to X; X stated that; referring to the views of X 

  • Adding a point - Moreover; furthermore; in addition; 

  • Offering an opinion - In my opinion; From my point of view; My conviction is that  

  • Concluding - In summary; To sum up; In conclusion  

3. Proofread and make any necessary changes  

Before you hit ‘next’, you want to make sure that you check over your essay. In this final step, give yourself a couple of minutes to check for spelling errors, the right use of punctuation, and correct grammar.  

But that’s not all - you should also check that you’ve answered the question set out in the prompt. Make sure you have argued your opinion and come to a relevant conclusion.  

Finally, check that the general flow of your essay reads well and that the word count is somewhere between 200 and 300 words.  

You might want to consider using the following checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the major points before finishing.  

  • Have you addressed the prompt? If not, you will score zero. 

  • Have you organized the text well, used linking words, and taken a logical approach to the essay topic? 

  • Have you included four paragraphs: an introduction, 2 body paragraphs each developing an idea, and a short conclusion summarizing your ideas?  

  • Have you included examples, explanations, and facts to support your point of view?   

  • Have you written between 200-300 words?  

How is the essay scored? 

The PTE Academic Write Essay task tests your ability to write an argumentative essay and shows that you can think critically and link ideas in a logical way.  

It is scored on seven traits, each representing a separate aspect of essay quality. The seven traits are:  

  • Content (Max score 3) 

  • Formal Requirement (Max score 2) 

  • Development, Structure, and Coherence (Max score 2) 

  • Grammar (Max score 2) 

  • General Linguistic Range (Max score 2) 

  • Vocabulary Range (Max score 2) 

  • Spelling (Max score 2). 

The most important trait is ‘Content’, which has the highest maximum score. If your answer is irrelevant to the prompt, you will receive a score of zero for this trait. Consequently, the whole essay will receive a zero. This is because the examiners see that no attempt has been made to do the task as required.  

Similar cases in which a test-taker will be awarded zero include the following:  

  • The response is not in English 

  • You write a very short or very long essay 

  • You don’t use punctuation  

  • You use bullet points or very short sentences 

  • The response is written in capitals 

  • There is no written response.  

Remember, practice your PTE essay writing task as much as possible before you go into the exam, and keep this guide near you to help when studying - we’re sure you’ll do great! 

Find out more about the PTE speaking and writing sections or take a scored practice test to find out if you are ready to get the score you need!