PTE Academic: Making the most of your UK-university studies


When you think of what makes for a successful UK-university experience, it is natural, first of all, to reflect on being able to speak and understand English; after all, if you can’t follow lectures or give presentations, your university experience is unlikely to be very positive.  

However, speaking English at a high-level is only one element of UK-university success, it’s also important to be aware of and to use academic study skills effectively.  Fortunately, the PTE Academic exam is designed not only to test your English but, also, to measure your academic knowledge as well.  

Doing well in the PTE exam will demonstrate that you are ready for the methodology and approach that doing a UK-university degree will require.  Read on to find out how doing the PTE Academic can help to improve your readiness for a UK-university education and the tips you should bear in mind when your university course begins.

Improving your academic English

It is common to think of language in a general context.  For example, if someone says they can speak English, you assume that they can do everything in that language equally well, from sending a casual text message to a friend, to giving a technical presentation. 

In reality, language does not work like this.  There are many different types of English and the sort of English you would use with your friend is very different to the sort of English you would use to write an academic essay. 

PTE Academic is specifically focused on the sort of language you would expect to find in an academic context.  You will be tested through the use of academic articles where specific academic language features, such as the use of topic sentences, long noun phrases and passive voice constructions, are common.  

You will also be expected to describe data, summarise information, and write essays using an academic style, all of these tasks are common to UK university courses from Oxford University to the Open University. 

In this way, then, preparing for and successfully completing the PTE Academic is an extremely effective way of preparing for your future university studies.

Finding an expert guide

The best way to prepare for PTE Academic and, thereby, your future university studies, is to find someone who can successfully guide you through the process.  They will also be able to share their experience of studying at a Western university. 

Additionally, they will help you to recognise differences in academic conventions that may well exist between your educational context and a UK educational context.  

Unfortunately, what makes for a successful essay or seminar discussion in one country does not always make for such success in another country.  So, it is important that you have a teacher who can help you to understand the expectations that exist in a UK-based higher-educational environment.

At Swoosh English, we have expert PTE teachers who will be able to provide you with tips for success and will help you recognise areas for improvement.  You can check out our PTE packages for more information.

Improving your research skills

Completing PTE Academic and having access to an expert teacher are great ways to begin your UK-university journey but it should not end there.  You will need to develop specific habits in order to be successful in your new educational setting.  

One point to bear in mind is that in the UK one often talks about “reading for a degree”, this is because the expectation in UK-universities is that students read widely and thoroughly to research their chosen topics. 

It is important, then, to get into the habit of being able to find relevant material to read and to build a schedule to ensure that you are reading widely enough to show that your academic work is properly researched.  

Many universities use Google Scholar as a resource, so it is important that you are familiar with searching for books and academic articles using Google Scholar, as opposed to just doing a general Google search as this may bring up material that is not properly checked and, therefore, will not be seen as appropriate. 

All UK universities will have their own digital and physical libraries too, so you should be prepared to become familiar with these as soon as possible.

Using other people’s work appropriately

A key element of successful academic work is that it is strongly influenced by other academics.  When we use the ideas of other academics in a university essay or presentation, it is important that we credit those ideas to their original authors. 

This is done by using a convention known as referencing and you will learn very quickly in your UK-university journey that referencing is extremely important.  

There are many different ways to reference another author’s work, from Harvard-style referencing to APA-style referencing and many others.  The important thing to be aware of is how referencing is done in your department at your university, any mistakes with this can lead to your work losing marks or even being judged unacceptable academic work and, therefore, failing. 

So, make sure that you understand exactly how you are supposed to credit the authors of the books and articles that you read.

Spending time with native students

One of the greatest benefits of studying in a UK-university is that you will constantly be surrounded by native UK students.  This is your best opportunity to learn about UK culture and to become intimately familiar with the way that UK students are trained to approach their studies.  

Just as choosing an expert guide at Swoosh English will help you to successfully begin your UK ambitions, spending time with UK students is the best way to make the most of the opportunities that will follow. 

The world of academic English is not solely made up of books, it is, fundamentally, made up of people, including teachers, professors, and students, just like yourself.  There will be many interesting things that UK students will be able to learn from your journey and, likewise, there will be just as many things that you can learn from theirs.

It all starts here

An ending must have a beginning and the most natural place to start is with a PTE Academic preparation course at Swoosh English where we can provide you with expert teachers and resources to ensure that you make a success of your ambitions to study in the UK.  We look forward to welcoming you to the UK soon to begin your university adventure.

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