Why you should be excited about PTE format change from November 2021

a small girl using a computer

The news of PTE format change, effective from 16 November 2021, has many students worried about their ongoing preparation. However, there is no need for concern as the new PTE format is essentially the same as the old, only the length of the test has become shorter.

Basically, the PTE test, which used to take approximately 3 hours to complete, will now take only about two hours. No new question type has been added nor has any existing question been removed in PTE Academic test. The same types of but fewer questions will be asked in the PTE test from November onwards.

Effectively, for a test taker very little has changed. The evaluation process of the answers will remain unchanged. So, do not panic if you have already begun preparing for the test.

PTE format update: A shorter test

pte test center

Currently, there are 20 types of questions which appear across the four sections – Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening – of the PTE Academic test. From these 20 types, a test taker got between 70 and 82 questions in total in one test session.

From November onwards, candidates will get 52 to 64 total questions from the 20 types of questions.

Speaking Question typesNumber of questions (Old format)Number of questions (New format)
Personal introduction11
Read aloud6-76-7
Repeat sentence10-1210-12
Describe image6-73-4
Re-tell lecture3-41-2
Answer short questions10-125-6
Total time30-35 minutes20-25 minutes
Writing Question typesNumber of questions (Old format) Number of questions (New format)
Summarize written text2-31-2
Write essay1-21-2
Total time40-60 minutes30-40 minutes
Reading Question typesNumber of questions (Old format) Number of questions (New format)
Reading and writing: Fill in the blanks5-65-6
Multiple choice, choose multiple answers2-31-2
Re-order paragraphs2-32-3
Reading: Fill in the blanks4-54-5
Multiple choice, choose single answer2-31-2
Total time32-40 minutes29-30 minutes
Listening Question typesNumber of questions (Old format) Number of questions (New format)
Summarize spoken text2-31-2
Multiple choice, choose multiple answers2-3 1-2
Fill in the blanks2-32-3
Highlight correct summary2-31-2
Multiple choice, choose single answer2-31-2
Select missing word2-31-2
Highlight incorrect words2-32-3
Write from dictation3-43-4
Total time45-57 minutes30-43 minutes

You can see the details about the PTE format change from the tables above. The changes from the old PTE test format to the new PTE format have been highlighted in red.

The number of questions appearing from those question types has been reduced to shorten the overall time of the test from three hours to two.

The optional 10-minute break allowed after the Reading section and before the Listening section has also been removed in the updated format of the PTE Academic test.

Why did PTE make the exam shorter?

According to Pearson, the company behind the PTE test, the reason for reducing the length of the PTE Academic test is for the convenience of the test taker.

“Through extensive testing, our research teams found that reducing the number of questions could improve the efficiency of PTE Academic with no impact on test scores or quality,” read a statement put forward by Pearson. Director of Academic Standards and Measurement at Pearson Dr Rose Clesham said that the update was based on thorough research, and for the most efficient evaluation of candidates, the test should not be any longer or shorter than it needs to be.

Pearson has stated that it will provide new versions of the PTE practice test from 27 October onwards.

PTE format change 2021: A different report card

Although it is not significant, the score card of the PTE test will also get a new look.

Currently, the score card of the PTE test looks like this:

PTE sample mark sheet

It has been said that Pearson is going to remove the Enabling Skills section from the score report. This is because universities and immigration departments are not concerned about these when assessing the English language prowess of candidates. New report cards will only mention the score received in the four sections of the test, which are Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening.

Instead, PTE is going to provide you a “skills profile” of your test with personalized feedback and suggestion. This will not be visible in the score report, but can be accessed by logging into your account.

PTE format change November: PTE at Home!

a woman using a laptop laying on a couch

One final change that has excited many students is the announcement of PTE Academic Online. This means a version of the PTE Academic test which can be taken from home is going to be launched in November.

Similar to the Duolingo Test of English, it will be possible to take the PTE Academic test from anywhere via a computer with an internet connection.

This has been done taking into account the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns in most parts of the world. Since, many test centers are closed, test takers can take the test from home.

It has been speculated that candidates will need to be alone in a closed room with their webcams turned on throughout the test for PTE Academic Online. This version of the test will be based on the new format of the PTE test.

Although immigration departments may not accept PTE Academic Online as a valid test for issuing visas, admission departments of colleges which currently accept the PTE Academic test are expected to consider the at-home tests for enrolment.

What isn’t changing in the New PTE format?

Like stated earlier, the types of questions asked in the PTE Academic are not going to change come November. Test takers will still receive 20 different types of questions, but the overall number of questions will be decreased.

The difficulty level of the questions are also remaining consistent.

The evaluation of the PTE test will remain unchanged. To learn about the marking system of the PTE test, click here »

Finally, the thousands of institutions around the world which accept the PTE test will continue using the test as before, despite the upcoming PTE format change.

Does PTE format update mean an easier test?

Yes and no.

Making the test shorter does not mean the difficulty of the questions would change. However, by reducing the number of questions, students might suffer less from stress and anxiety while taking the test.

More importantly, only those questions which have a lower weightage on the score have been reduced. It should be known that in the PTE test, not all questions are worth the same marks. The test has been designed in such a way that the most difficult questions like Re-tell Lecture and Multiple Choice carry lower marks than comparatively easier questions like Read Aloud and Write from Dictation.

This means questions, which already carried lower marks, have been removed. Students need not spend a lot of time on questions which are not very important. Alternately, test takers can devote more time and energy on the questions which matter.

Click here » to find out the weightage of each question type of the PTE test.


So there is not much to worry about the PTE format change happening on 16 November 2021. If you are taking the test before 16 November 2021, the test will be delivered in the existing format.

Even if you are preparing now and are planning to take the test after 16 November, the only change you will face is the reduction in the number of questions. You do not need to change the way you are preparing for the PTE Academic test.

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