PTE Essay Writing Guide

PTE essays are a form of exam testing that will assess every facet of your writing skills and ability.

PTE essays have become one of the more frequent standardised tests that assess writing competency over the years. You can expect to complete at least one PTE essay during your studies.

Whilst PTE essays can seem daunting, and many myths have arisen around the difficulty or perceived difficulty of PTE writing, the reality is that, for someone who is well prepared, a PTE essay can be completed with relative ease and very minimal fuss.

We will be going through the ins and outs of PTE essays, discussing what they are strict, how to prepare for them, and avoiding some of the common pitfalls around PTE essay writing, as well as a general FAQ around PTE essays and the writing process.

It is hoped that having read through this guide, you will have both the confidence and the preparation needed to conquer the PTE essay process.

Firstly, we will be discussing exactly what PTE essays are, their purpose, and how they assess your writing competency and proficiency.

What are PTE essays?

PTE essays encourage robust debate and testing of your writing skillset and creative content writing. They are centralised on one contentious topic and require the answer to be either agree or disagree or provide some form of affirmative.

A vast majority of PTE essay subjects are based solely on contentious political and social issues that are currently present in this day and age. They encourage lively writing while testing conclusions and essays based on an answer.

Some example subjects that could be used in a PTE essay are:

  • Centralised cities are constantly increasing in population to the detriment of regional areas. Should the government encourage people to be decentralised to these areas?
  • Do you agree with the statement, “Children spend too much time playing computer games”? List your reasons why
  • Politicians are increasingly bringing forest management or clearing up to minimise the threat of a major bushfire. Do you agree or disagree that this is viable?
  • Political advertising on social media is increasing each year. Should there be intervention to bring social media political ads more in line with traditional media restrictions?
  • Should children be learning phonics in Australian classrooms? List the advantages and disadvantages
  • Do you agree or disagree that privately built toll roads are more deserving of government funding than public transport? List your reasons as to why
  • Does coal mining still have a future, even in a carbon-neutral environment? Do you agree or disagree?

If you need an idea on how to write for respective topics, browse our list of PTE essay writing topics with answers.

PTE writing is a test of your skills, both in the course of a debate, as well as the cohesiveness of your skills to answer the question directly with supportive arguments. They are a more significant test of how your skills have progressed throughout the course, your understanding of the course itself, and what skills you may or may not need to have specifically updated.

PTE assessors will be looking to test essential skills, such as how fast you can write to a quick brief or topic, general grammar and spelling proficiency, and the structure of the narrative you are creating based on the PTE essay topic. Any updated skills taught in more recent classes may also be focused on, so make sure that that is also a part of your preparation.

They will also be looking to test out your writing process, how you structure your arguments as well as the body of your content, as well as the language that you use, the strength of your ideas, and the overall strength of the piece of work that you produce for the PTE test.

PTE tests can be stressful, and you should remember that it is not unusual to feel stressed about a very complex and challenging task from the onset.

PTE writing, however, need not be a daunting affair and, as mentioned, can involve a lot of creative writing skills that would otherwise not be used. This creative writing can be used to form a sound argument, one that is not just direct and readable but also one that is persuasive in your favour.

Preparing for a PTE essay

PTE essays, like many other tertiary level exams, are a text of the skills you have learnt in the subject and to which you have honed them.

Therefore, as with any other exam, you would practice the skill set. Practicing writing, however, can be difficult, especially if you are void of ideas for inspiration. Updating your preparation for the PTE exam may also be difficult, mainly if you have never conducted such an exam.

One good way to practice such an essay is to list potential subject matters and write opening and conclusion statements for each. This will not just get your head into the PTE writing process but will also prepare you for the agree or disagree, find a solution and debatory content that you will ultimately address.

By also writing a list of subject topics, it is more likely than not that you will be gearing yourself up to answer the actual question that will be featured on the exam paper.

Research is also crucial, and even though, in some cases, you will not know what is on the PTE test until the day of the test itself, research can still be conducted that will benefit you and the overall writing process.

Start by thinking about what type of topics you are most likely to answer for the PTE test, and go forward by breaking those up into broader and larger groups. Research not necessarily what those subjects are but similar PTE papers that fall under these more giant umbrellas.

Study the arguments made, study how the ideas have been formed, and note down what you can not just incorporate into your writing process but also the broader writing style and process that was incorporated into these topics. Ensure that your understanding of these topics has been updated according to what you’ve seen.

Even news articles that cover these topics can be helpful, as though they do not present an argument per se, they do illustrate the facts and reasoning of those involved in the issue in generalised terms.

Knowing these terms will help you craft whatever argument you may need to accomplish in the PTE academic exam.

Creative PTE essay writing template

Whilst it is deliberately designed to address one focal point directly, PTE essay writing does include a considerable degree of creative writing. This creative aspect of the PTE essay will ultimately help you not just form a more persuasive argument but also stop you from repeating yourself or making your essay less concise.

A list of things that can help you throughout the creative process are:

  • Expand on your reasons, providing examples, both factual and lived
  • Using these examples, create a narrative that will help to define your argument
  • Use dot points to summarise any minute details, such as advantages to your argued topic or disadvantages to a contrasting point of view
  • Refer to as many factual references that you have found through your research
  • Use these references to help create a story that will summarise your main argument

Creative writing in the PTE essay process will not just help to underline your subject, but it will also help to make the overall essay much more enjoyable and entertaining to read. Doing this will also add plausibility to your message, helping to assert the overall message you are trying to convey.

In any PTE academic exam or writing assessment situation, you should always aim to incorporate an element of creative writing. Creative writing is a great way to enhance your argument and make it more persuasive and help you expand your ideas.

For really complex topics, incorporating creative writing and thought processes into your PTE academic exam will allow you greater flexibility during the overall writing process. Creative writing will ensure that your body content is coherent and compelling, allowing you to incorporate structure into the general paper much more quickly.

Avoiding common pitfalls throughout PTE essay writing

Writer’s block is accurate and can often raise its head during PTE essay writing. For many, writer’s block can often stop the argument from forming and halting any reasonable approach you may have had to write a convincing and compelling essay for your PTE subject.

Avoiding this cannot be easy, and whilst everyone has their ways of dealing with such circumstances, some common patterns that can help you to avoid stumbling during the writing process are:

  • Keep your main arguments listed in dot point form before starting the essay, and refer to them throughout
  • Always conduct as much research as possible into the various topics that you may be given for the exam sitting
  • Structure in your mind what arguments you will be marking for the opening, the body, and the conclusion of the essay itself
  • Break down the essay topic as much as possible, preferably into more minor subjects if you can
  • Have your closing argument settled before writing, and focus on writing towards the conclusion as if it were a goal

Essay topics, too, can be tough to answer, especially ones based on a social or political issue. It will always help you keep an open mind regarding whatever essay topic you have been given for your PTE writing, as this will allow you to explore your mind and the arguments you will be making.

Another common aspect that affects those who undergo the PTE Academic exam is repetition and redundancy in the writing process. Writing a piece that repeats itself is often the death knell of any assessment paper, as you will lose the more significant point of your argument, no matter how solid or concise your conclusion is.

Avoiding repeating yourself can be difficult, especially in the more significant arena of the test atmosphere when you are under pressure to write to both a brief and a time limit. However, there are a few things that you can do to avoid redundant writing.

One of these is to have a plan in your mind of which sub-topics you will be arguing for underneath the overall more remarkable essay topic. Having this in the context of a list, and one where your issues will be outlined, will not just help you avoid repeating yourself but also provide your paper with structure and an organised argument.

Writer’s block and redundant writing can often occur hand-in-hand and indicate poor planning, preparation, and a general unease with the situation and process behind PTE academic exam writing.

These common pitfalls will be avoided by ensuring that your preparation is ideal and comprehensive and that all bases are covered throughout your research. Should they occur, despite good practice, remember to fall back on your notes, lists, and overall preparation before the exam.

Other considerations for essay writing

Ultimately, the PTE academic exam should be considered mainly as a way in which you can not just get a handle on where your current skill set is but also one where you can enhance and advance these same skills to your betterment for both your course and your chosen career.

So, embrace it. It’s ideal for treating the PTE test as something that isn’t daunting but as a way to explore your skills and competencies. On top of this, you may find through writing a PTE academic exam a topic or a subject for which you have a passion, and it may provide you with a more concise idea of what you want to do as a career.

There are a lot of advantages to treating such a test in this manner, chiefly in that it will help to promote a positive attitude with which you can approach the overall exam itself.

Having a positive mindset, especially for what is undoubtedly a challenging examination, will allow you to avoid some of the common pitfalls that we mentioned before and allow you to write naturally and in a compelling manner.

Ultimately, however, you should always remind yourself that this is a chance for you to share just how competent you are and how far you have progressed throughout the course. It can be daunting but don’t forget that it is also a chance for you to shine and showcase what you are capable of and what you have accomplished over the journey.

So embrace it, make sure you have prepared for not just the test itself but also each of the variants and topics you may face, and ultimately enjoy it. Chances are that if you are sitting a PTE academic exam, you enjoy writing to a certain point, so this is a chance for you to shine through and showcase your writing skills.

Frequently asked questions

How many essays are there in PTE?

You will be asked to write one to two PTE essays on any given topic

How long do PTE essay exams last?

Commonly, you are given 20 minutes to complete a PTE essay writing exam. This is designed to test not just your writing process but also how fast you can process and write the exam.

Are PTE essays repeated?

PTE essays are often repeated as the subjects, and the essay topics chosen for the PTE writing exam are picked to test your writing skills and speed wholly.

How many words do I have to use in a PTE essay exam?

You will have a minimum length of 200 words and a maximum length of 300 words with which to formulate your PTE essay exam. This means that your opening, body, and conclusion need to be on point. A healthy word limit that you should impose on yourself is 250 words.

Are PTE essays difficult?

PTE essays are designed to be challenging, but that does not necessarily mean they are difficult. You will succeed if you have an open mind, work to your strengths, and keep your essay compelling.

Do I have to type fast to complete it?

Twenty minutes is enough to complete the essay in reasonable comfort. Still, it is essential to remember that the whole PTE essay writing process is designed to test your writing proficiency, of which being fast is one of them.

What are the most common types of topics?

PTE essays are pretty broad, but you can expect a lot of topics facing the present-day government, general politics, public, science, parents & children upbringing, academic, and human issues. You can also expect a few sports-related topics based on familiar topics such as concussion and injury-related subjects.

What skills are covered in a PTE essay?

PTE essay testers are looking to test the whole gamut of your writing skills. In no particular order, PTE essays are designed to test how fast you are, how competent you are, the degree to which you can write about complex tasks, the persuasive nature of your arguments, and the ability to dissect subtopics within the overall subject matter.

How important is a PTE academic exam for my overall course?

PTE exams usually are one of the primary assessments of your overall skills and knowledge, so most likely, they will form a large part of your course’s score. In some cases, a PTE exam is solely an assessment of pure writing skills, which will contribute to your evaluation of the overall knowledge of that particular course.

What is the standard structure of a PTE academic exam?

The PTE test will essentially follow the standard introduction, body, and conclusion structure. What will be assessed is how these are individually structured, how compelling they are individually, and how effective they are when combined into one paper.

Will I be graded on whatever argument I make on the test?

The test will grade the strength of your argument and the conclusion, but not the statement itself. This allows you to write with the most comfortable view and explore unique ideas and subjects.