April 25

Essential Writing Skills For PTE Academic


Many students are often unaware of which skills are required of them in order to score well in the essay writing component of the PTE Academic exam. These skills go beyond just using correct grammar and a wide range of vocabulary in your sentences.

The areas you need to focus on in order to to be able to produce a high scoring essay include:

  • Content
  • Word count (200-300 words)
  • Grammar
  • Coherence and structure
  • Range in linguistics
  • Spelling
  • Diversity in vocabulary

Let’s take a more detailed look at these criteria and what you need to do in order to score well in these areas.


Content refers to whether or not your essay has addressed all points mentioned within the essay question. This means you need to write your essay so that it describes your point in a clear and easy to understand way. All aspects of your essay, including the supporting points and examples, have to be topic related. If you fail to meet this requirement you will receive a score of 0 for your entire essay.

Development, Structure And Coherence

Development, structure and coherence refers to your ability to organize and present your ideas so that your essay is easy to read and understand.

In order to do this test takers must write an essay with clear ideas that are logically laid out and easy to understand.

Coherence refers to how well a reader can understand what you write. There are several things can affect this, such as, grammar mistakes, the use of inappropriate words and phrases or the illogical ordering of sentences and ideas.

Development and structure refers to your ability to link ideas, sentences and paragraphs logically using a fixed structure and cohesive devices like linking words or discourse markers to produce a well-developed response. A high scoring essay uses a logical organizational pattern, connects ideas and explains these connections.

What Are Linking Words And Discourse Markers?

These are words or phrases that link ideas, sentences and paragraphs and help you to progress clearly from one idea to another. You can think of them as the glue that binds your essay together, without them your essay would just be a bunch of randomly disjointed sentences.

If you do not include discourse markers and linking words in your answer, it will appear illogical and be more difficult to understand.

A few examples are, Nevertheless, Particularly, Thus, Naturally, etc.

Different types of linking words are used for different functions.

Here are just a few common linking words that can be used in the PTE Writing test:

It’s important to note that these phrases should be used in moderation, otherwise your essay might seem unnatural.

Form – Word Limit

This refers to the candidates ability to write an essay within the specified word count, between 200 to 300 words. Essays that are below 120 words or above 380 words will receive a score of zero.

General Linguistic Range

General linguistic range is a measurement of how well the language used in your essay conveys or communicates your ideas. This means that whatever you write should be clearly communicated with accurate descriptions, correct emphasis, and no ambiguity.

Your responses should highlight key ideas and creatively express your opinions in a clear and effective manner.

To achieve this I recommend that you use complex sentence structures and a wide range of vocabulary to express the complexity of the subject matter. Complex ideas are often best expressed using complex sentences.


Vocabulary refers to the words and phrases you use in your essay. In order to score well in this are students must demonstrate a wide range of topic specific vocabulary that is used correctly and appropriately. They should also be able to paraphrase and use uncommon collocations with ease. You must also be able to spell these uncommon words correctly. Make sure you are 100 %  sure of how to spell these words before you attempt to use them, if you are in any way uncertain, then opt for using another word with a similar meaning.


This refers to your ability to use a range of grammatical structures and to use them accurately. In order to maximise your score in this particular area you must be able to produce complex and error free sentences. As well as demonstrate that you are able to flexibly use different tenses. It’s important that your sentences sound natural, so you should not attempt to use advanced grammar that you are not comfortable using as this could result in basic or systematic errors.

How To Improve Your Writing Skills

Each of these will be important for you to get a perfect score. You can work on these skills by writing essays on a wide variety of topics. If you only write on topics you feel comfortable with, you will feel overwhelmed on test day.

Practice writing in English as much as possible. Start of small by writing a few sentences with the new words you learn during your preparation time. You can also consider starting to keep a daily journal. Reviewing daily events can also help you to write more comfortably using different tenses.

Improve your writing speed by taking timed tests. The average person writes at a speed of 100 words per minute. So it should take you around ten minutes to write out a 200-word essay. This leaves plenty of time to plan and recheck your work.

Since writing tasks involve producing language, it is very difficult to for second language learners to objectively assess their own work. This is where having a trained PTE professional tutor comes in handy. Not only will an PTE lecturer be able to tell you about the estimated scores for your practice answers, but they will also be able to point out your mistakes and help you improve on them as well.


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