How to improve your PTE Reading score | Updated for 2021

PTE Academic is a very innovative language exam! It’s pioneer in computer based testing, and has some very interesting question types.

However, the PTE Reading section is a bit old school!

PTE Reading

You have probably seen all these question types before – maybe in your school or college exams or somewhere else.

Basically, the PTE software wants to know:

Can you read an English text and understand it properly?

Can you find the required information in an English text?

Do you know the common grammar structures?

How good and vast your vocabulary is?

All the questions test these couple of things in various ways.

In this tutorial we will focus mainly on some dos and don’ts of the PTE Reading section and on how to improve your overall reading skill.

When you read a text in English or in any other language, you are basically trying to form a picture in your mind. The same happens when you listen to an audio. If your language skill is good, you will understand more and hence your picture will be more complete and accurate. Then you can answer any question based on that.

So, the key skills you need to develop to get a good score in PTE Reading are:

  1. Find specific information in a text
  2. Grasp the overall concept of a text
  3. Read and understand quickly
  4. Identify relationships between different parts of a text
  5. Understand common vocabulary and grammar

All of these skills depend upon your reading technique. Have you heard of these two words – skimming and scanning?

PTE Reading skimming and scanning

These are fundamental to your success in PTE Reading.

Skimming means quickly going through a piece of text to get an overall idea of what it is about.

Scanning means to scan or to go through a text to find a particular part of information.

Let’s understand these two concepts by an example:

You are given this text (It’s a short text just for the purpose of this illustration. In your reading questions you will usually have texts longer than this):

The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), gaining independence from the British Crown and establishing the United States of America, the first modern constitutional liberal democracy.

So, if we were to ask you what this text is about – you will go through it quickly reading a few words in each line. Most likely you will say – “It is about American Revolution”.

Now if were to ask you – “Which country did America gain independence from?” then you will have to read the text more carefully. Specifically you will try to identify a line in the text which has some country name. You will find “British Crown”. This will give you the answer – “America gained independence from Britain”.

So when scanning you focus only on words that point to the information you need, or the words that are similar in meaning. In this case we didn’t find “Britain” we found “British” but we were able to get our answer from that.

This is a fun exercise to do every day. Take a piece of text from a website or a newspaper. Set the timer on your mobile phone to a minute or two. In the beginning you can keep it longer. Before the timer goes off try to understand the meaning of the text.

Next, you need a good vocabulary for this section as well. After all if you don’t understand the meanings of the words, you won’t be able to understand the meaning of the sentences or the text.

(Note: Our expert tutors have put together a full series of PTE Tutorials and PTE Tips and Tricks articles. Make sure to read all! Also, check out the PTE Mock Test packages for mock tests with score cards, section tests, mini tests – all with authentic questions and real PTE like software!)

In a previous tutorial we spoke about the importance of reviewing the academic word list. When you are learning that list, also try to learn synonyms i.e. words with similar meanings. This will really help you in this section.

The last thing which is really important is a basic understanding of sentence structures. This will help a lot in fill the blanks questions, and also in reorder paragraphs. When you know different parts of a sentence you will be able to tell which word form will complete the blank. This will help you identify the right option. Similarly, knowing grammar will help you understand how one sentence relates to another, which is very important for reorder paragraphs.

We would also advise you to make reading a habit, even after you clear your PTE. There is no limit to how much you can improve your language. So keep going!

To study each reading question type in detail go to the following tutorials:

PTE Reading Multiple choice single answer

PTE Reading Multiple choice multiple answers

PTE Reading Fill in the blanks

PTE Reorder Paragraphs

PTE Reading and Writing Fill in the blanks