PTE General: what do test centers need to know?

Test Center PTE General

Test days are stressful occasions for students, so it’s vital that test centers are well organized. Test center managers preparing for the Pearson Test of English (PTE) General exam therefore need to take a few key points into account to ensure that things go smoothly.

The first thing to be aware of is that the PTE General exam is divided into two parts; a nine section written paper that tests reading, writing and listening, and a spoken test of either three or four sections depending on the level.

At each stage of the testing process, there are important steps the test center must take to ensure everything goes to plan. In this article we’ll look at the key things you need to know – but if you’d like more detailed information consult the Test Center Handbook and other documentation available on the resource page.

Before test day

Get ready for test day by familiarizing yourself with Edexcel Online. This is a free online service where test centers must register candidates and view results. Before the test, you’ll need to enter and submit all test taker details into an online spreadsheet with their level and session. Be sure to check your test timetable for the submission deadline date, as it may vary.

Once this spreadsheet has been submitted through Edexcel, the test center will receive registration documents and an invoice from Pearson.

Check these documents carefully to make sure that all test taker information is correct and email any changes or withdrawals to Pearson using the “Changes/Correction of entries form”. Detailed instructions for using Edexcel are in section 2 of the Test Center Handbook.

If you have test takers with physical or learning disabilities, you may need to apply for special access to either the format, or the physical location of the test. This could include enlarged papers, low vision aids or transcripts and additional time. Read section 3 of the Test Center Handbook for more information on how to apply.

Attendance registers, test packs and return envelopes will be sent to the test center separately. Maintaining a high level of security for the test materials is important. Check the test packs carefully and keep all test materials locked in a secure place until test day. Question papers arrive sealed and must not be opened before the test day. Return any unused test materials to Pearson after the test.

On test day

For the spoken test, you need to make sure that:

  • The room is set up to standard and you have recording equipment. Be sure to check and test all equipment before test day.
  • There is a trained interviewer and assessor present. Remember that interviewers and assessors must be approved by Pearson in advance and cannot be a teacher of the test taker.
  • The speaking test must be done in a quiet testing room with only the interviewer, assessor and test taker present.
  • Test takers are not permitted to take any material into the speaking test.
  • All spoken tests need to be recorded, labelled and sent back to Pearson.

At each stage of the written test, there are several tasks for the test center invigilators to complete. On test day, ensure that the test room has been set up correctly. This includes removing all posters, having a visible clock and putting the desks into a seating plan. Test conditions need to be observed from when test takers enter the room.

Before the test starts, ensure test takers are aware of the rules and have no unauthorized items. Once the test papers have been opened allow students five minutes to complete the front page of their booklet before the start of the test is announced.

During the test observe carefully to see that test takers follow all rules, including no communication, and that a member of staff is available to accompany any test takers who need to leave the room. See section 4.5 of the Test Center Handbook for the policy on late comers, absences and leaving the test early.

Make an announcement five minutes before end of the test. Once the test has finished, ask test takers to check the front of their booklets, cross out any unwanted answers and put any extra sheets in the correct place. Before the test takers can leave the test room, collect all papers and sign the Attendance Register.

After the test

Both spoken and written test papers need to be arranged and labeled according to the Attendance Register.

You must send the completed test papers back, along with any unused test materials, as soon as possible to the address provided.

Check the exam timetable to find out when the test results will be available through Edexcel. A “Statement of Provisional Results” will also be initially sent to the test centers, and finally test certificates will be issued.

For more information about PTE General visit the website or download the Test Center Handbook.

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