Non-native English speakers must take an English test to enrol in a vocational training course in Australia. The test is intended to assess the student’s English language competency to decide whether they will understand the course material.

Australian colleges accept both the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE). Although they test the same skills, they differ slightly in their methods. IELTS has a person assessing some of the tests, whereas PTE uses computers for marking.

Here, we explain how to do well in your English language test in Australia.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

If you’re reading this, then you’re already preparing, which is great! Getting ready for your test is essential if you want to do well. Make sure that you have practiced your listening, reading, writing and speaking and understand how the test happens. Both testers have practice materials available through their websites, and we will go through the tests in the next section.

When preparing for your test, it is also important to choose the right test for you: IELTS or PTE. Because they have slightly different assessment techniques, one may work better for you than another. For example, IELTS has a human assessor for the spoken test so they will account for your accent. However, the PTE may struggle to understand strong accents.

The best way to judge which test is for you is by doing the IELTS and PTE mock tests. You can also visit their website for learning materials and helpful preparation tips. By choosing the test that’s right for you, you will feel more confident on test day.

How to do well in your English language tests

Your English language test (IELTS or PTE) will comprise of four sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Here are our tips to help you succeed:


  1. Check that your headphones are working. Test them as soon as you can and raise your hand if they are not working.
  2. Don’t rush! Read the questions, prepare your answers and use the time that you have.
  3. Listen carefully. Make sure you can hear every word that is spoken.
  4. Take notes if you can. While you are listening, try to take brief notes that will help with your answer.
  5. Listen to radio or television every day to get used to hearing the English language.
  6. Proofread your answer. Check it for spelling and grammar and make sure you have kept to the word limit.


  1. Read all of the text carefully, don’t rush and make sure that you go into as much detail as you can in your answer.
  2. Use your time well. Don’t spend lots of time on a question if you don’t know the answer. Move on to the next question and leave time to return at the end.
  3. Use precise examples that show that you have read and understood the text.
  4. Read newspapers and books every day.
  5. Proofread your answers, double check spelling and go back to questions that you think need improvement.


  1. Plan your time well. Work out how long you need for each question and stick to your timings.
  2. Avoid repetition. This may show that you don’t have an extensive vocabulary. Show what you know, don’t just repeat it!
  3. Write clear, relevant answers and don’t use long sentences and paragraphs.
  4. Try to use the active voice rather than the passive voice.
  5. Re-read your work and proofread.


  1. Listen carefully to the questions and mentally prepare your answer.
  2. Speak clearly, slowly and fluently. Make sure the examiner can hear you.
  3. Ask the examiner to repeat the question if you need them to.
  4. Speak confidently and don’t take long pauses.
  5. Speak English every day. Speak to shop assistants, café workers and English-speaking friends. There is no better way to practice!
  6. Try to show off your vocabulary, grammatical knowledge and ability to use a range of tenses.

On test day

Before you leave the house, make sure you have done the following:

  • Collect your relevant ID and documents.
  • Check the location, time and date of the test.
  • Drink water. If you are dehydrated, your brain won’t be at its best. Make sure you reach for a glass of water as well as a coffee!

When you arrive for your test, follow these simple steps:

  • Pay attention to the examiner or supervisor as they give instructions.
  • Try to answer all of the questions. You will not be marked down for a wrong answer.
  • Do not cheat.
  • Leave your belongings outside the examination room, as advised.
  • Ask for permission before leaving the assessment room.

Most importantly, relax. This will help you listen well, speak clearly and answer each question to the best of your ability. As long as you are prepared, well-rested and relaxed, you will be fine.

What if you don’t receive the score you need?

If you don’t get the test score you need, you can take an English language course to help you meet the required level. At Central Australian College, we have several programs to help students regardless of their level of English. Contact us today if you would like more information.