PTE Preparation Blog

Read Aloud - Understand the Game

No matter the level of your English Skills; If you understand the machine scoring system; if you know the English skills that you are lagging in; and if you are smart enough; you can develop ...

Author: GLS LLP       Date: 03-03-2017

Read Aloud is one of the easiest item types in the PTE test. All you need to do to score full points for this item type is read aloud a text of generally 50 to 70 words in the manner expected by the machine testing system. If your English speaking and pronunciation skills are not up to mark, rest assured that you will be score something just for attempting.

However, some test takers because of lack of knowledge of what the machine testing system expects for this item type and how to display those skills during the test, may not be able to score the points that reflect their English skills, or may find this item type challenging. In this blog, we will present strategies and tips that will answer the above questions in detail and with a little practice help you score full marks for this item type consistently and efficiently.

The task

Read Aloud is a speaking section item type which assesses both speaking and reading skills. There are generally 6 to 7 questions in this item type. Since PTE Academic is a test of academic English, expect academic texts with academic English syntax and vocabulary.

The top section of read aloud question screen will give you instructions about the question. It will tell you the time that you have to prepare to read the text aloud and the time within which you must read the text aloud. The time that you have to read the text aloud is a constant and will always be 40 seconds. The only piece of information that varies and you must take note of, is the time to prepare. The preparation time could be anything between 30 to 40 seconds. What to do and how to prepare in this time is the subject of our next blog.

Below the instructions and at the center of the screen will be the audio recorder box. The recorder will have a status section and a countdown timer. The countdown timer on the recorder will countdown to the point where the recording starts playing. Most PTE test takers use the recorders countdown timer instead of instructions to know and keep track of the preparation time. After the preparation time is over, you will hear a short tone; the recorder's status changes to "recording" and the micro phone will open to record your response.

Be Advised, the PTE recorder automatically stops recording after a 3 seconds silence. Some students think that they can beat the machine by making a humming noise. Please be warned that the humming strategy does not work. The machine scoring system will identify this noise and your score will be affected.


We have found that students who understand the scoring pattern do far better than students who do not. Knowledge of PTE's machine scoring system is absolutely essential for those aiming for high scores in the PTE test. Knowledge of machine scoring system will tell you what communicative, enabling and sub skills the machine testing system will be looking at and what you need to display in your answers.

No matter the level of your English Skills; If you understand the machine scoring system; if you know the English skills that you are lagging in; and if you are smart enough; you can develop strategies and techniques to beat the machine and maximize your score. So read this section thoroughly, make this information as much a part of yourself as your beating heart.

The communicative skills scored in this section are Speaking and Reading.

The sub skills tested in this section are identifying a writer’s purpose, style, tone or attitude; understanding academic vocabulary; reading a text under timed conditions.

To test the above sub skills, the machine scoring system will look at if you are speaking for a purpose (to repeat, to inform, to explain); reading a text aloud; speaking at a natural rate; producing fluent speech; using correct intonation; using correct pronunciation; using correct stress; speaking under timed conditions to mark you for the enabling skills.

The sub skill jargon may seem overwhelming but do not be disheartened. The PTE machine scoring system is not vicious and a large percentage of our students do quite well in read aloud question type.

The machine scoring system will mark you on the following 3 enabling skills

  • Content
  • Pronunciation
  • Oral Fluency

The sub skills mentioned earlier are tested within these enabling skills. The score for the above enabling skills is summed to get your total read aloud score. This score is then allocated to communicative skills of speaking, reading and overall score.


The PTE machine scoring system will first mark you on content. Nobody knows how much score is allocated for content. According to the PTE score guide, the score for content is dependent on the length of the text. However, it is largely believed, that the score for read aloud content is between 3 to 5 points. Regardless of what the actual score is; what you must understand is that you get maximum score if you say all the words in the text in the order that they are in without excluding or including new words. You get 0, only if you do not attempt or nothing of what you speak is in the text. Please be advised, if you score 0 for content, you will not be marked for other enabling skills and your score for the particular question will be 0. So, all you need to do for full content score is say all the words in the order that they are in without excluding or including new words. Not hard is it.


After content, the PTE machine scoring system will mark your answer on Pronunciation. You can score a maximum 5 and lowest 0 for pronunciation. According to the PTE score guide, to get the maximum score, you must pronounce all vowel and consonants in a manner that is easily understood by regular speakers of English. You combine sounds or delete sounds in words in a manner that is appropriate to continuous speech. You Stress correctly on individual words and words in context of the sentence. You score 0 only if more than half of what you speak is not understandable and your speech sounds like another language. So remember, the key to scoring well is to pronounce each word clearly so that it is understandable.

All the technical language in the PTE score guide may make pronunciation sound like a difficult skill to score in. However, our experience and research has shown that it really is not that difficult. The Machine scoring system does allow for variations in pronunciations due to accent unless the speakers accent is so strong that it makes understanding English difficult. The machine scoring system may (may is highly stressed here) be interpreting accent and correctness of pronunciation of each word in the context of general pronunciation of vowels and consonants in the speech and its understandability. Regardless of how the machine system interprets correct pronunciation, what is important; is that you understand that for the PTE test you can easily learn to pronounce any word correctly, even if you are unfamiliar with the word. You can learn more about pronunciation in our blog Improve English speaking and pronouciation skills while having fun.

Oral Fluency

The scoring for Oral Fluency is quite simple. All the machine scoring system wants to know is if you can read in a constant, smooth rhythm without hesitations, repetitions, unwanted pauses and false starts. You get maximum score of 5, if you display the above skills in your speech without any errors; and minimum score 0, only if you speak too slowly and display characteristics of a person who has problem reading and comprehending English.

Now that you understand the game, next step is to help you build the essential sub skills that will help you maximize score in each of the enabling skills of content, pronunciation and oral fluency and communicative skills of speaking and reading.

If you are ready for perfect practice, you can take the next step in your PTE Preparation by enrolling in one of our PTE preparation courses. You will get to practice your skills in an environment that simulates actual PTE test. Furthermore, you get G-Analytics to tell you what skills you need to focus on most and personal tutor feedback to help you with your preparation and get you the scores you need in one attempt. Go to our courses page for more information.

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Samuel Dsouza says:     I didnt think how important understanding machine scoring system is to get best scores. Thanks for enlightening.