April 25

PTE Academic: Essential Reading Skills


The PTE reading test is strictly timed, and candidates often struggle to finish all tasks on time. There are a number of things students can do in order to improve the time it takes for them to answer specific reading tasks, like understanding the test format or taking practice tests. However, in order to significantly reduce this time and also improve your chances of answering accurately, candidates must improve their reading skills.

Let’s take a look at the important reading skills needed for the PTE Academic reading module and how you can improve on them.

Practice Identifying Main Ideas

Try reading short portions of text everyday, uses texts that are a minimum of 300 words. Highlight what you think are the main points in the piece. This way you train yourself to identify the main points more quickly.

When you are presented with a large chunk of text on test day, your eyes and brain will already be accustomed to sorting out the central themes and main points

Improve Your Reading Speed

The PTE reading test is strictly timed. In order to be able to complete every task with ease, candidates need to practice improving their reading speed. There are many ways in which you can practice this skill everyday:

  • Aim to read at least 220 words per minute
  • Read short articles of around 300 words
  • Read often regularly under timed conditions

Once you have read through a text quickly, go back to read in detail and check how much you absorbed while speed reading.

Improve Your Vocabulary

How well you do in the reading section depends heavily on your understanding of the words and phrases that are mentioned in the texts. You must have a wide range of vocabulary in order to comprehend the texts.

The best way to improve your vocabulary is to pick up words through active reading. Basically, this means finding new words while you are reading out of enjoyment rather than just to pass a test. Find some English reading material that you enjoy, such as books or magazines. This will improve your general reading skills and also help with your vocabulary. Make sure that you check out any words you don't understand and record them.

Deal With Unfamiliar Words

Many students panic during the reading test because despite improving their vocabulary, they still come across difficult and unfamiliar words. It is impossible to learn every possible word that could appear in your test, which is why it is also important to practice trying to understand the meaning of unfamiliar words by reading in context. It might surprise you to know that most native English speakers do not understand every single word that we come across. We actually just make an educated guess about what that word means. To do this one has to look at the words and sentences around the word you don't know so you can make an educated guess as to what it means. It is also important to identify what type of word you are dealing with, as in is it a noun, a verb or an adjective? The words surrounding the unfamiliar word will always give you clues about this. For example, an article like a or an is followed by a noun, adjectives and nouns often appear together. A good understanding of sentence structure can aid in your understanding of the type of word you are dealing with.

As you practice more and more of these skills, you will find that the speed at which you answer practice reading tests and exercises will gradually improve and hopefully your score will improve as well.

To best prepare for the reading test, it would be best to enrol in an PTE course with an experienced PTE teacher. Make sure that the course you choose also has practice tests and questions that reflect the actual levels of the PTE exam.


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