April 12

Why Even Native Speakers Fail The PTE Academic Exam


Many Native English speakers wrongly assume that they will score well in the PTE Academic exam and that they don’t really need to prepare.

In actual fact, the opposite is often true. It is quite normal for second language learners to score better in a test like the PTE Academic than a native speaker. This is mainly because native speakers fail to realize that the exam is not just about how well you speak or how familiar you are with the language, it is also about demonstrating knowledge of particular skills. Let's take a closer look at why it is difficult for even native English Speakers to get a perfect PTE Academic score.

Native Speakers Aren’t Trained To Perform PTE Tasks

The questions in the PTE Academic exam require academic skills. These are all skills that go beyond what a native speaker uses in their daily communication.

The PTE exam, just like any other exam requires in-depth preparation, since you often have to flex skills that you don’t generally use in your everyday life, like for example writing an essay.

Writing an essay requires you to have a deep understanding of how an essay is structured, how to write a thesis statement, and what to include in a conclusion paragraph, to name but a few skills. Most average native speakers, despite being proficient with the language don’t have a clue about the formula to write a good essay.

Not Speaking Clearly

The automated scoring process ensures that there are no biases made by human examiners, and that anyone in any part of the world will be assessed in exactly the same way. This is especially important for the speaking test.

There are quite a few stories from native speakers who messed up their speaking tests horribly simply due to their ignorance about how the test is conducted. During the PTE academic exam, you will be seated in a test room with around 9 other test-takers. Although you will be in your own portioned cubicles, you still be able to hear other candidates give their answers. This can be quite distracting if you are not used to speaking with constant background noise.

Another major factor to consider is the microphone. Candidates need to speak loudly and clearly into the microphone. They also need to make sure they enunciate their words correctly and do not speak to quickly. Besides this, the microphone automatically switches off after 3 seconds of inactivity, which means that your responses might not be recorded properly, and this can severely affect your score.

Grammar Mistakes

No one has perfect mastery over the English language, and this is especially true when it comes to grammar. You might be a good communicator, but that doesn’t always mean you know where to perfectly place a comma. Many native speakers fail to recheck their responses for careless grammatical errors, due to unfounded overconfidence.

Preparation Is Key

For all of the above-mentioned reasons, all test takers, including native English speakers, should prepare before test day. Thorough preparation is the key to PTE success, even if you are a native speaker of English.

The first step is to always know what to expect. To do this you must understand the format of the test. Each module has its own types of common questions. It’s important to know what the different question types are for each section and formulate a strategy to solve each one. For example, the strategy for solving a Multiple-choice question is different from the strategy for a fill-in-the-blank question. The timings and answer procedures also differ greatly. You also need to know about the specific instructions for each question type – things like, is there a word limit, or how many options do you have to choose, can you use capitals or not?

Just like any exam, your success depends on the amount of effort you put into your preparation.  First-time test takers are often unaware of the great amount of detail that goes into preparing for each module.

Make sure you understand the test format and what exactly is required for each task. I think the best way to do that is to get guidance from a trained PTE professional who can help you understand the skills you need to ace the exam and offer you valuable practice resources and feedback.


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