The Ultimate Guide To Master PTE Fill In The Blank (part 1)


11 Dec, 2019

Both type of fill in the blank exercises are not as easy as they appear.

These exercises impose the vocabulary and the phrasing, whereas some other tests allow you to employ formulas you are comfortable with, particularly in the Writing section.

It does not mean you need to worry but to improve the right 3 skills thanks to training and tips adapted to these evaluations.

First, let’s see what to expect for each format.

The exercise

In PTE’s Reading section, you have to take two kinds of Fill in the blanks. In both cases, you need to select the correct terms among different choices to display in virtual keyboard interfaces.

These interfaces are blanked words in the middle of sentences. You should expect 4 to 5 exercises of each type.

The first sort focuses on your reading skills. You have 8 possibilities to select from to fill in approximately 5 blanks. Hence, a few of the proposed responses are wrong and do not belong in the about 80-words text.

You need to pick and drag the right answer to the appropriate box. Indeed, you click and hold a word to drag and drop it where you estimate it fits. If you change your mind, just drag it back to where you took it from.

The second one tests your reading and writing abilities. You need to pick a word from a drop-down list with 4 options, so a sentence becomes correct. You repeat this process as many times as there are blanks in the around 300-word text. To change your answer, click on a different term in the list.

The Scoring

In both exercises, each right response in the appropriate blank gives you a point. The incorrect ones are worth nothing, but no minus 1 here.

The Imparted Time

You do not have any time limit imposed, except for the overall one for this entire section.

Once you get the hang of it, you should become able to spend not more than 5 minutes, and even less, per question.

What Is Expected From You

Skill #1: Reading

Skill #2: Vocabulary

Skill #3: Appreciate a context with logic

The variety of subjects for these tests are limitless. So should be your vocabulary.

Always read with a pen and paper next to you to note down new terms during your daily reading sessions. Yes, every day, so that you improve your lexical and reading abilities to the necessary level.

Pick articles with a wide range of topics. This way you will get used not only to develop a better culture and knowledge of English, but also to adapt to different situations. This last one will enable you to understand the main issue without getting stuck on a specific word.

These skills are primordial to give your best during the PTE.

Indeed, you need to practise reading regularly, but you also need a method for your test day and to revise your vocabulary (link to our method).

I recommend here our article ???? How To Get 6 out of 6 In PTE Write Essay Vocabulary to improve your reading aptitudes.

The word choices you are confronted with are sometimes very close in their meaning, especially in the R/W test. You need to reach a high enough level of vocabulary usage and text understanding.

The Main Tip You Need


You can eliminate most of the wrong choices by noticing any information about the words to choose, such as:

  • plurals
  • the subject
  • the time
  • phrasal verbs
  • Prefix
  • suffix
  • collocation, i.e. nouns, adjectives..

You can visit our platform to practice specifically on Phrasal Verbs and Collocations (2500 + collocations available)

It also allows you to verify if your answer is the best one. The sense of the text is essential.

How to better these 3 skills

Your knowledge of the language should illustrate how:

  • precisely you have mastered the definition of most words.
  • you use in the right terms in a specific appropriate context.

Acquire a precise understanding of synonyms

Your strong suit here should be how well you handle synonyms. You will particularly need it for R/W Fill in the Blanks.

Synonyms imply close enough meanings, but they often differ in intensity, for instance, or in usefulness depending on the situation at hand.


If tall and big can be associated, as well as big and fat, tall and fat can’t. It relates to the context.


Big can be considered as less pejorative than fat. Also overweight is more politically correct, because more respectful, than the other two.

Hence, depending on the situation, and/or who is talking, you will need to choose the appropriate adjective, whatever your considerations are.

Master your collocations

Some words work by pairs. They are called collocations.

Indeed some nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs work better together than with others.

This phenomenon exists in every language but is specific to each one. This means that some associations, which make sense in your native language, don’t in English.

Hence, you need to develop a sound knowledge of these collocations, and some expressions.

Many collocations are so dependent on each other they are not unlike expressions.

If you learn enough of them, you will find it quite useful on PTE day.

When you notice one term of the pair and then blank, you know almost without checking the list of options which one is expected.

“Take a decision” is WRONG.

“Make a decision” is RIGHT.

Some are actual expressions, such as “burst into tears” and not “explose in tears”.

As we mentioned earlier, we created an exercise specifically to help you learn more collocation and spell them correctly.

Just visit the listening module and open Collocation Dictation. You will have to listen and write the collocation correctly. We provided over 2,500 collocations in our PTE Online Platform.

Knowing your phrasal verbs is key

Learning most frequent phrasal verbs will give you a definite advantage. These verbs when attached to one or two particles change their meaning.

If you add “over” to “be”, “to be over” implies “to be finished”. “To turn” does not involve making a rotation anymore, but “to reject” when it becomes “to turn down”.

A few others:

”to put up with” for “to tolerate (with difficulties)” ”to point out” for “to make aware” ”to come up with” for “to find a solution” ”to let down” for “to disappoint” ”to work out” for “to solve”

Beware of colloquialisms!

They are words usage or expressions you may hear, but it is casual, even slang language, by opposition to the formal writing required on test day.

To sum up, be aware of them and do not use them in your PTE.

Now, the odds are in your favour:

No negative marking, so always try an answer anyway. Give it your best shot!

You have a limited number of choices. If you don’t know how to fill one of the gaps, come back to it later, once you narrowed your possibilities thanks to the tips you just learnt.

Do not waste time if you are uncertain of your response.