PTE Essay Writing Guide

PTE essays are a form of exam testing which will look at assessing every facet of both 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 the course of 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’re going to be going through the ins and outs of PTE essays, discussing what they are exactly, how to prepare for them, 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, what their purpose is, and how they precisely assess your writing competency and proficiency.

What are PTE essays?

PTE essays encourage robust debate, as well as testing 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 are designed to encourage lively writing, whilst also testing conclusion writing and writing 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 decentralised to these areas?
  • Do you agree with the statement that “Children spend too much time playing computer games”? List your reasons why
  • Forest management or clearing is increasingly being brought up by politicians as a way 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 greater 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 basic skills, such as how fast you can write to a quick brief or topic, general grammar and spelling proficiency, as well as the structure of the narrative that 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, the way in which you structure your arguments as well as the body of your content, as well as the language that you use, the strength of your arguments, and the overall strength of the piece of work that you produce for the PTE test.

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

PTE writing, however, need not be a daunting affair, and as mentioned, can actually 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 that you have learnt in the subject, and to the degree to which you have honed them.

Therefore, as you would 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, especially if you have never conducted such an exam before.

One good way to practice for 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, debatory type content that you will be ultimately addressing.

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 key, and despite the fact that 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 off 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 more broader and larger groups. Research not necessarily what those subjects are, but similar PTE papers that fall under these larger umbrellas.

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

Even news articles that cover these topics can be useful, 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 to craft whatever argument that you may need to accomplish in the PTE academic exam.

Creative PTE essay writing template

PTE essay writing, whilst it is deliberately designed to directly address one focal point, does include a huge degree of creative writing. This creative aspect to the PTE essay will ultimately help you not just form a more persuasive argument, but will 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. By doing this, you will also be adding plausibility to your message, helping to assert the overall message that you are trying to convey.

In any PTE academic exam or any 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 will help you to expand on 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 make sure that your body content is coherent and compelling, and will allow you to much more easily incorporate structure into the overall paper.

Avoiding common pitfalls throughout PTE essay writing

Writer’s block is a real thing, 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 that you may have had to write a convincing and compelling essay for your PTE subject.

Avoiding this can be difficult, and whilst everyone has their own ways of dealing with such circumstances, some common ways that can help you to avoid stumbling during the writing process are:

  • Keep your main arguments listed in dot point form prior to 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 smaller subjects if you can
  • Have your closing argument settled prior to writing, and focus on writing towards the conclusion as if it were a goal

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

Another common aspect that affects those that undergo the PTE Academic exam is that of 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 greater point of your argument, no matter how strong or concise your conclusion is.

Avoiding repeating yourself can be difficult, especially in the greater 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 making arguments for underneath the overall greater essay topic. Having this in the context of a list, and one where your topics will be outlined, will not just help you to avoid repeating yourself, but will also provide your paper with structure and an organised argument.

Writer’s block and redundant writing can often occur hand-in-hand with one another and are an indication in most circumstances of poor planning, preparation, and a general unease with the situation and process behind PTE academic exam writing.

By making sure that your preparation is ideal, comprehensive, and that all bases are covered throughout your research, these common pitfalls will be avoided. Should they occur, despite any amount of good preparation, just remember to fall back on your notes, your lists, and your overall preparation prior to the exam.

Other considerations for essay writing

Ultimately, the PTE academic exam should be largely considered 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 to treat the PTE test as something that isn’t daunting but as a way to explore your own skills and your competencies. On top of this, you may find through writing a PTE academic exam that you find a topic or a subject in which you have a passion for, 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 is 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, as well as allowing you to both 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 itself. It can be daunting but don’t forget that it is also a chance for you to shine and showcase just what you are capable of, and what you have accomplished over the course of the journey.

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

Commonly, you are given 20 minutes to complete a PTE essay writing exam. This is both 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 for the purpose of wholly testing your writing skills and speed.

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 that they are difficult. If you have an open mind, work to your strengths, and keep your essay compelling, you will succeed.

Do I have to type fast to complete it?

20 minutes is enough to complete the essay in reasonable comfort, but it is important 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 quite broad, but you can expect a lot of topics facing present-day government, general political, public, science, parents & children upbringing, academic, and human issues. You can also expect a few sports-related topics, based on common topics such as concussion and injury-related subjects.

What skills are covered in a PTE essay?

PTE essay testers are looking to test the full 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 you have to dissect subtopics within the overall subject matter.

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

PTE exams are normally one of the main assessments of your overall skills and knowledge, so most likely it will form a large part of your course’s score. There are some cases in which case a PTE exam is solely an assessment of pure writing skills, in which case it will contribute to your assessment of the overall knowledge of that particular course itself.

What is the standard structure of a PTE academic exam?

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

Will I be graded on whatever argument that I am making in the test?

The test will grade the strength of your argument and the conclusion, but not the argument itself. This provides you with the freedom to write to the argument that you are most comfortable with, as well as explore the individual ideas and subjects within.