A Guide to PTE Academic Reading and Writing – Fill in the Blanks

open book in library

Let’s reflect on some questions to consider our readiness for this Guide to PTE Academic Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks.

Do you read on a regular basis?
Are you able to understand how different vocabulary fits into its context?
Do you have good knowledge of collocations?
How about grammatical knowledge of sentence structures and word families?

This is essentially what is required for PTE success in the Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks task in the reading section. Today’s blog article is going to take a look at this PTE task, taking you through the best method and strategies to use in approach to this task. We will then apply these tips to a mock prompt and look at some main takeaways and ways to improve.

You will be prepared for PTE success in no time!

What is the task? 

  • Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks
  • You will have to choose from different words in the dropdown options in order to fill a gap and complete the sentence.
  • The prompt length will be up to 300 words long.

How long do you have to complete each item in this task?

  • Approximately 1.5 – 2 minutes per task but this is just a guideline as individual item types in the reading section are not timed separately.

How many of these prompts will I have to complete?

  • 5 – 6 (this varies)

How are you scored?

PTE Reading Fill in the Blanks is judged on your ability to use contextual and grammatical cues to identify words that complete a reading text.’

  • This task affects your reading and writing score.
  • There is no negative marking, so don’t leave any blanks empty.

Let’s take a look now at the method we can apply to PTE Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks in order to achieve PTE success.

Step 1

  • Skim the text to get the overall gist and main topic.
  • If you understand the overall meaning of the text, this will assist you in choosing the correct word for each blank.

Step 2

  • Read through the text in detail, having a look at the answer options.
  • The choices in the dropdown might look quite similar or have very similar meanings but have small differences in meaning or usage.
  • It is important that you read the sentences before and after each blank before you start choosing your answers. The correct word choice might be based on the meaning of sentences before or after that particular sentence.

Step 3

  • Read either side of the blank to help you choose the correct answer option.
  • The words before and after may give you clues as to the correct word choice.
  • Sometimes you can use your grammatical knowledge to choose the correct grammar form.
  • At other times, you need to choose for meaning and context.
  • And for other items, it may be a common collocation which helps you make the choice.

*Have a look at our YouTube video on Reading: Fill in the Blanks where we go into more detail on making a decision based on meaning, grammar and collocations.

Step 4

  • Always try to fit in time for review.
  • Read the sentence again and ask yourself does it make sense in the context? Have you made the correct decision?
  • As you are working through the blanks, if you are unsure of an option, don’t spend too much time on it. You can come back to it at the end.
  • Try to select the ones you are confident about first and secure those marks.
  • If you still aren’t sure, don’t forget you can make a guess in this task.

Now let’s apply this four-step method to our PTE Reading mock prompt today.

Below is a text with blanks. Click on each blank, a list of choices will appear. Select the appropriate answer choice for each blank. 

A collection of roughly 255-million-year-old fossils suggests that three major plant groups existed earlier than previously thought and made it through a mass 1. _______ that wiped out more than 90 percent of Earth’s marine species and roughly 70 percent of land vertebrates. The fossils push back the earliest records of these plant groups by about 5 million years. “But it’s not just any 5 million years — it’s those 5 million years that span the Permian-Triassic boundary,” says study co-author Benjamin Bomfleur, a paleobotanist at the University of Münster in Germany. The find adds to the growing list of land plants that 2. _______ the catastrophe known as the Great Dying, the world’s greatest mass extinction, which occurred about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period.

Some new fossil plants were so well preserved that scientists could use acid to remove rock and extract a plant’s waxy sheath. Those coatings 3. _______ microscopic details that researchers used to identify species. At the time these fossils formed, the area had a tropical climate but with prolonged dry periods. Those conditions aren’t good for forming fossils. But surprisingly, these fossils are exceptionally well preserved, Bomfleur says. He and his colleagues were able to wash the rocks with an acid to extract waxy plant cuticles embedded within. The cuticle preserves a mould of microscopic features on the surfaces of fronds or leaves, and those details helped the scientists identify the plant species more 4. ______.

  1. extinction, death, expiration, disappearance
  2. survived, lived, endurance, perished
  3. preserved, survived, backup, reserved
  4. accurately, fairly, accurate, justifiably

Step 1

  • Skim for the overall meaning and main topic of the text.
  • Main topic: new plant fossils found.

Step 2 and 3

Can you use grammatical knowledge, contextual meaning or knowledge of collocations to choose the correct answer?

1. A collection of roughly 255-million-year-old fossils suggests that three major plant groups existed earlier than previously thought, and made it through a mass extinction that wiped out more than 90 percent of Earth’s marine species and roughly 70 percent of land vertebrates.

adjective + noun
mass + extinction
Mass extinction is a common collocation.

2. The find adds to the growing list of land plants that survived the catastrophe known as the Great Dying, the world’s greatest mass extinction, which occurred about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period.

Noun + relative pronoun + verb
Land plants + that + survived
Matches in meaning as we know these plants ‘made it through’ a mass extinction.

3. Those coatings preserved microscopic details that researchers used to identify species. At the time these fossils formed, the area had a tropical climate but with prolonged dry periods.

noun + verb + noun
coatings + preserved + details
Preserved matches the meaning and overall context of the text. Preserved is commonly used when talking about nature and fossils.

4. The cuticle preserves a mould of microscopic features on the surfaces of fronds or leaves, and those details helped the scientists identify the plant species more accurately.

Verb + noun + comparative adverb
Identify + the plant species + more accurately
Matches the contextual meaning of the sentence.

Step 4

  • Review your choices.
  • Do the sentences flow well?
  • Do they sound logical?

    As you can see, this method can really help you come to the correct answers in PTE Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks. We are going to leave you today with some main takeaways and overall tips for improvement and PTE success.

    PTE Reading / Writing – Fill in the Blanks Tips for Success

    • Look at the words before and after the gap. Then choose words that match the meaning and grammar.
    • Eliminate illogical or ungrammatical words in the options and choose the most suitable word.
    • If you are struggling with one of the answers, don’t spend too much time on this.
    • Move on to the next one and try and select the options you are confident about in the time you have.
    • There is no negative marking for this section, so do not leave the question unanswered. Make an educated guess.
    • Keep working on your grammatical knowledge and your collocations.
    • Practice reading academic texts daily.
    • Take note of any new vocabulary and consider the main topic and gist of the text.

      Wrapping Up

      Were you able to use this method? Which step was the most difficult to apply? Which step do you think was the most useful? Please let us know with your comments and suggestions. Don’t forget practice makes perfect. Take every opportunity to apply these strategies to PTE practice tests and sample questions on the Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks PTE reading task.

      Good luck with your PTE Academic Reading/Writing: Fill in the Blanks task practice!

      Leave a Comment

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *