Every student and teacher knows how important revision is ahead of exams. It’s not only about how much students revise and practice – it’s also about how they do it.
So, if you’re preparing students for Pearson Test of English (PTE) General, here are ten top revision strategies to help you help your students. All of the advice below can be applied to all six levels from A1 to Level 5.
- Know what to expect
You can download detailed Functions and Notions guides for all levels from the Resources page. These will give you a very clear idea of the language we expect students to produce at each level. You can download the test guides for each level as well as practice tests and other important documents.
- Work on synonyms and paraphrasing
Often in the reading and listening tasks, the answers will be synonyms or paraphrased versions of the question. Working with synonyms and paraphrasing in class is a great way to expand your students’ vocabulary and help them be better prepared for the test. In the A1 test students are expected to show only “a very basic repertoire of words and simple phrases”, but as they progress through the levels, more range is expected in vocabulary and grammar.
- Focus on sentence structure
As well as helping your students improve their grammatical control, taking a close look at sentence structure will really benefit them, especially in the dictation task (section 2). Identifying the tense of a verb or whether they need to use this or these, for example, will help them avoid losing points unnecessarily. It’s also important that they check sentences are complete and correct in the gap fill tasks at higher levels (Sections 3 and 7), so always tell them to re-read the whole sentence for every question.
- Create a list of errors
We all know that our students often make the same mistakes, so get each student to create a personalized errors list. Each time you do a writing task, dictation or gap fill, have them write down the typical mistakes they make. Then, next time, tell them to check their work with their list before you correct it.
- Use a highlighter
Get your students into the habit of highlighting or underlining key words in questions every time you do a task. This helps them focus on the information they need to listen or look for and also encourages them to subconsciously start thinking about vocabulary related to the topic.
Download a sample exam and practice underlining the key words.
- Say more
For the spoken test, train your students to expand their answers and make sure they feel comfortable talking about themselves. At higher levels, give your learners language so they can support their point of view. Remind them that the topics may be more complex, but they still need to be able to give an opinion about them.
- Listen to as much as possible
In the listening sections, students will hear a variety of different accents from people of different ages, so it’s important to expose them to lots of different voices in preparation for the test. They might hear a parent talking to a child or an elderly person in a shop, so the more experience they have listening to different dialogues, the better. As well as the listening activities in coursebooks, encourage students to listen to podcasts or watch videos on YouTube in their free time.
- Be (in)formal
In the writing and role play, it’s important for students to know what level of formality is required for each task. They should have lots of practice of written and spoken structures to deal with different types of people, such as a friend, a shop assistant or a bank manager. Also remind them to make the most of the 15 seconds they have to prepare the role play in the spoken test and think about the type of structures and vocabulary they’ll need.
- Keep to the word limit
For each of the writing tasks there is a ‘tolerated word limit’ which allows students to be a few words over or under. However, you should train learners to keep an eye on how much they are writing so they become familiar with the required task length. Students can save time calculating exactly how many words they’ve written by choosing an average line from their writing, counting the number of words on that line and then multiplying it by the total number of full lines.
It’s also essential students practice writing under exam conditions so they get used to completing the tasks quickly. Be sure to include some exam practice in class.
- Check the answers again!
While our final tip isn’t really a revision strategy, it’s certainly very helpful for your students to bear in mind when applying all of the other revision strategies. It is essential that students leave themselves time at the end of the test to check through their paper: Have they filled in every question? Are the sentences complete in the gap fill tasks? Have they checked their writing and remembered their frequent mistakes? Are all the answers clear and easy to read? One final check-through could make all the difference!
With these top tips, you and your students will be more than ready for the test. Good luck!