Are you curious about the negative markings in the PTE? If yes, let’s solve all your doubts regarding PTE negative markings. To begin, PTE stands for the Pearson test of English. It is one of the most renowned and widely accepted English tests worldwide. All the universities in English-speaking countries require you to submit scores of English tests. There are many tests that universities accept. Some of the most accepted and widely popular tests are the IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL.

Moreover, in the last decade, PTE has gained immense popularity due to its feasibility and easy pattern. A high score in the PTE can ensure you an admission letter from your preferred university. Due to rising competition, having just a good academic record is not enough. You need to have good English test scores, too.

But Hold on! Do you know there is one hindrance in the PTE test score, i.e., a negative marking system. Many students are confused about this concept. In this blog, we will discuss the format of the PTE, followed by a detailed analysis of the PTE negative marking. 

Note: Also Read Top 9 PTE Listening Tips to Boost Scores

Format of the PTE

The format of the PTE plays an important role if you want to score the highest score. Before preparing for any exam, you must be clear about the format of the exam. This helps you prepare in a better and more efficient way. To understand the PTE negative marking, you should first have a basic idea about the type of questions. The PTE tests your English in 3 sections. The first is the combined Speaking and Writing section, the second is the Reading section, and the third is the Listening section. Scores from all the sections are combined to formulate the overall score. Below is the breakdown of the format of the PTE: 

Speaking and Writing section

The speaking and the writing sections are combined in the pte. This is also one of the hardest sections of the exam. There are several types of questions in the speaking and writing section. Read-aloud questions require you to read the text in the given question loudly into the mic to test your speaking abilities. Re-telling a lecture and repeating sentence-type questions also test your speaking abilities. Short answer questions and essays test writing abilities. Essays are the most important part of the writing sections. They carry a lot of marks and are also one of the hardest parts of the PTE. 

Reading section 

The reading and listening sections contain some questions that have a PTE negative marking. The reading section for the PTE is considered one of the easiest sections, but the questions in this section can be tricky and hard. There are two types of multiple-choice questions: Single answer correct and multiple answers correct. Re-ordering paragraphs and Filling in the blanks based on a text are some other questions asked in the reading section. The total duration of the reading section is 32-41 minutes. The time duration is a major issue for most students as they take much time to read a given passage.

Listening section

The listening section lasts around 45-57 minutes. This section aims at testing your listening skills by providing you with questions with audio clips and then asking questions based on them. This is more of a memory section, you need to remember which word or sentence was used in the audio clip to answer correctly. Although there is an option to rewind the audio clip, it may consume a lot of time to listen again and again. Multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, highlighting incorrect words, and writing from dictation are some types of questions asked in the PTE. This section also contains PTE negative marking.

Decoding the Negative marking in PTE

Now that you have all the background information you need let’s start with decoding the PTE negative marking. Usually, negative marking refers to the deduction of 1 point if you answer a question incorrectly. However, there is no direct negative marking system in the PTE. Only a few types of questions have negative markings. These questions are from the reading and the listening sections. 

In the PTE, negative marking is such that you will get one point for a correct answer, and one point will be deducted for the incorrect one, but the overall score that you can get for a single question is 0. This means that even if you mark the answer correctly, you can’t get -1 as the overall score for that question, as the minimum score allowed is 0. This can be confusing, let us understand this in more detail. 

First of all, let us discuss the types of questions which can give you negative marks.

  1. Multiple choice questions: Multiple answers correct (Reading and listening)
  2. Highlight incorrect words (Listening section)

Only these two types of questions have negative markings in the PTE. 

Now let us look at both of these question types in detail: 

Multiple choice correct

Let’s dive into decoding the PTE negative marking system. The MCQ-type questions are present in both the reading and listing sections. Two sub-toes of MCQ questions are present; one is the single-answer correct type, and the other is the multiple-answer correct type. In single-answer correct-type questions, there are multiple options given, but only one of them is the correct answer. In multiple choice type questions, there are multiple correct answers, and this is the type that carries a negative marking.

Suppose you have a multiple-answer correct type MCQ. There are 5 options given, 3 of which are correct ones. According to the PTE negative marking system, you will be awarded +1 for each of the 3 correct options and -1 if you choose any option other than the 3 that are right. 

If you choose all the 3 correct options and no incorrect options, then in this case, you will be awarded +1,+1,+1, which means a total of 3 points.

If you choose 2 correct and incorrect options, you will be awarded +1,+1,-1. So, your total score for the question is +2.

If you choose two or more incorrect options, your score comes in negative, but you will not be awarded negative points for that question as the minimum score allowed is 0. 

This means that even with a negative marking, you won’t get less than 0 in any questions. However, it can still affect your score if anyone is incorrect and another correct cancels for the correct one. 

Note: You Must Know the Difference Between TOEFL Vs PTE

Highlight incorrect word

The second type of question, which contains PTE negative marking, is highlighting the incorrect word. This question is part of the listening section. You will hear an audio clip in the question and be given a transcript of the audio clip. You will have to identify the incorrect word.

For example, if the audio had a sentence, ‘The problem with the flyover in London needs a complicated plan to be solved.’ The transcript may contain a sentence like, ‘The problem with the flyover in London needs a decent plan to be solved’. Here, the incorrect word is Descent. If you choose this word as incorrect, then you will be awarded +1, and if you choose any other word that is all correct, then you will get -1. 

Note that the minimum score limit in this type of question is not 0. So, if you choose an incorrect answer, you will get -1. 

How to reduce PTE negative marking?

After understanding the negative marking system in the PTE in detail, students can now have a question about avoiding these mistakes. These mistakes can affect your score and should be avoided. 

In the MCQ-type question, the overall minimum score that you can obtain is 0, but you can still get a reduction in your score if you choose some incorrect options. If you don’t choose any option, then you get 0 marks. Some students get too scared about getting negative marks and don’t answer these questions altogether. This is not the right strategy, as one MCQ question can give many points. You should risk ticking an option if unsure about it being right. However, taking a chance is not a good idea if you do not know the right question. In short, tick an option even if you have 60% confidence in it being the right one. 

There is no minimum limit for a score in highlighting the incorrect type of questions. This means that you can get negative marks. To avoid a PTE negative marking in this question, you can first listen to the audio clip attentively. This type of question is not that hard and can easily give you a +1. If you are still unable to get the answer, then compare the chances. If you have more than 75% confidence in it being right, take the chance, otherwise, it is better to leave it unanswered. 


The PTE negative marking system is one of the most confusing topics. Many students get panicked by reading about negative markings. You will understand it much better when you know the details. From the above blog, it should have been clear that the PTE has no direct negative marking system. Only a few types of questions have negative marks, some of which have a limit of 0 being the minimum score. All the best for your exam! Visit CourseMentor to learn more about PTE, IELTS, TOEFL and Duolingo-related topics.

Frequently Asked Questions ( PTE Negative Marking )

1. Does PTE have a negative marking?

Yes, PTE has a negative marking, so don’t lose points. For this, you must ensure you don’t answer the PTE questions incorrectly. Because when you give a wrong answer, you will get a negative marking.

2. How can we avoid negative markings in PTE?

To avoid negative marks in the PTE Exam, all you have to do is highlight the incorrect words as instructed. Thus, to maximize the scores, highlight the certain choices you think are incorrect.