In this post, I go over some tips and tricks to manage time on the reading sections of the PTE Academic exam. Some of the things we look at:
1) Who is more likely to struggle with time in the PTE Reading section (…and what you can do about it)
2) The main why test-takers struggle with time in reading section.
3) How to identify which sections are eating up your time.
4) Tips on how much time to allocate for each task in the reading section.
5) Which section to spend less time on.
So if you’re ready to learn how to manage time in the reading section watch the video below
1) Who is more likely to struggle with time in the Reading section …(and what you can do about it)
For the most part, people who struggle with time in the reading section are people who do not have a daily reading habit. This includes reading books, slightly complex articles, the newspapers or anything that has to do with reading English on a daily basis.
Let’s look at what you can do to minimise the time impact and how you can do the best you can in the time given.
You get between 32 to 42 minutes to answer the PTE Academic reading section. This depends on the number of questions asked and the length of the passages. You only know how much time you have once you take the exam and the reading section begins. The first thing that you need to do once the reading section begins is to check how much time you have and to look at how many questions are being asked, so you get a sense of how much time you have. You can then work accordingly with the questions that have been given to you. By simply being aware of the time and keeping an eye on the timer regularly throughout the exam can help reduce instances where you’re spending excessive time on a particular question.
Often, test-takers get stuck on a difficult question and end up overthinking it. By the time you know it, you spend five minutes on one single question and have very less time remaining for the following questions. Just by being aware of time and always keeping one eye on the time or you can avoid instances like this where you’re spending too much time on one question.
2) How to identify which sections are eating up your time.
You also want to identify the one or two question types on which you are spending the maximum time. You can do this by tracking the time that you are taking to solve each question. If you are doing a practice session, you can take a timer and measure to see how much time were you spending in the multiple choice question, reorder paragraphs question and fill in the blanks for each question.
By doing this, you get a sense of which area are you spending too much time on and then you can take corrective actions to reduce the time in those sections. So giving a personal example, I used to take a lot of time on the reorder paragraph. I timed myself and realised, ‘OK, I’m spending too much time on this one thing and am not working efficiently’, so I then made a conscious effort to simply practice and reduce the amount of time I took to answer those questions. So by identifying the areas where you are spending more time on, you can reduce the time by taking corrective actions.
3) The main reason why test-takers struggle with time in the Exam
The multiple choice answer and choose single answer are the sections where test-takes tend to spend the most time. One PTE reading tip that can help you is to read the multiple choice question passages only once as far as possible.
Here’s the thing:
If you are reading the passage in the multiple choice question multiple times, you going to be looking at the passage then looking at the question/options. Then you are again going to go back to the passage and then back to the question.
Switching between the question and the passage takes up time, and you’ll end up spending more time than if you just read the passage once with full understanding and then attempted the answer.
Here’s what you need to do:
As far as possible in the multiple choice question, part of the reading section just try to read the passage once with complete understanding instead of going through the passage multiple times because that can help you save the most time. Now you may need to refer to the passage but the goal is to keep this to the minimum or avoid it altogether if possible.
4) How much time to allocate for each task in the reading section.
In the image below, I’m going to give you a brief outline of how much time you should be spending on each section to do well. I’ve given a breakdown of per question type how much time you should be spending on each question.
For the multiple choice single answer, you can spend 2 minutes for each question that have been given.
For the choose multiple answer, you can take a little longer which is 2.5 minutes per question.
For reorder paragraph, 4 minutes is what I recommend you spending because it can take slightly longer time to identify which paragraphs comes after the other.
For the fill in the blanks drag-and-drop and select from list you can spend 1.5 minutes for each question.
If we add up average time given for each question that I’ve given and the average questions you are asked you get a total of thirty-two minutes.
Now the key thing to remember in this is that if you spend a little bit more time on say the multiple answer you wanted then work to compensate it and maybe spend less time in the fill in the blanks. So you always want to be a little bit flexible, but this is a good guideline to keep in mind to ensure that you complete the reading section in time
5) Which section to spend less time on.
Some other PTE reading tips that test-takers have said helps them in the is to spend less time on the fill in the blanks.
Here’s the thing:
The Fill in the blanks is a question in the reading wherein more often than not you are not going to get the answer by over analysing things. You either know the answer, or you do not know the answer.
Spending more time on the fill in the blanks and over analysing usually does not yield any better results. This is a section where you may want to go with your instinct and select the correct answers as soon as possible.
Your comprehension speed is one of the key aspects of time management especially in the multiple choice and reorder paragraph. Comprehension speed is how quickly you understand a passage of text given to you. You improve you comprehension speed by reading articles on a daily basis and reading good quality books. The more that you immerse yourself in high-quality English on a consistent basis, the easier it will be for you to answer and understand the passages given to you in the exam.
You can check out sites like CNN and BBC. ScienceDaily.Com is another good website where you have topics that are similar to the PTE Academic exam. You can read through these articles when you have the time and try to increase you comprehension speed. This also adds to the practice that you’re putting into the PTE Academic Reading section.
I hope you found the tips and strategies useful. Go ahead and try to implement them in your practice and in the exam. If you found this useful and feel that someone could benefit from it. Please share this with them.