Negative Marking in PTE: Everything You Need to Know

Posted on 16/01/2024 by Moni PTE Magic

Every task plays a huge role in your overall PTE score. However, many beginners tend to apply the same technique to all items from the same section, which is a big mistake.

Despite assessing similar skills, some questions are scored using negative markings, unlike the others. Understanding how big of a difference negative marking in PTE could bring would help you develop better strategies for the exam.

Today’s article by PTE Magic will address this burning question for you. Keep scrolling to learn more.


Negative Marking in PTE: All You Should Know

negative marking in pte

1. Scoring Format

Some PTE questions have very different scoring systems from other English proficiency exams (such as IELTS or TOEFL). 

With these items, candidates get one point for a correct answer and lose one point if an answer is wrong. Long story short, the minimum parameter is zero.

Suppose you choose two correct answers and a wrong one. That means your overall score would be 1 x 2 – 1 = 1. 

And in a reversed scenario (e.g., one correct answer and two wrong), technically, your result should be 1 – 1 – 1 = -1. 

But as we mentioned earlier, zero is the minimum score. Therefore, you would get 0 for this section.

This is great news for many PTE candidates; they can skip multiple questions without getting a negative score.

2. Types of PTE Questions with Negative Marking

So far, only two question types can result in negative markings.

a. Reading: Multiple-choice Questions (Multiple Answers) 

2 to 3 MCCMA items might be included in PTE’s Reading section. Once reading a 200-word passage, candidates must choose more than 1 answer for the follow-up question. 

One wrong answer would cancel your point for the correct one. But suppose you choose the wrong answers for all MCCMA questions in Reading. 

In this case, their points will simply be deducted from your overall Reading score. There would be no scores below zero, as we agreed earlier. 

b. Listening: Multiple-choice Questions (Multiple Answers)

Likewise, you should find at least 2 MCCA questions in PTE’s Listening section. After a clip or audio is played, candidates must decide on more than 1 answer that addresses a particular issue in the question.

One point gained for a correct answer would be canceled out when there is a wrong answer. If all your MCCA answers are incorrect, points for these questions will be extracted from the Listening’s overall score.

c. Listening: Highlight Incorrect Words

You will listen to a running audio along with the transcription provided in the test. 

To score for this section, you must check and compare the words between the audio and the transcription. If a word in the transcript doesn’t match what you heard, click on the word to highlight it. That word will become yellow to indicate it was selected.

Your answer will be marked as wrong if the chosen word is similar to the audio, meaning you will lose one point for this section.

3. A Specific Example

To better illustrate how it works, we have included a specific example of negative markings.

Question. Which statements are correct?


  1. Tokyo is the capital city of Japan
  2. The capital of Canada is Vancouver
  3. Brazil is the largest country in South America by land area.
  4. Egypt is located in South America.
  5. The official language of Australia is English

Out of five options, statements B and D are false. A, E, and C are correct. That means candidates must choose A, E, and C to get the highest possible mark (+3 points).

All other possible scenarios when you choose more than 1 answer:

Chosen options Total points
A (+1) & C (+1) 2 point
A (+1) & E (+1) 2 point
C (+1) & E (+1) 2 point
A (+1), B (-1) & C (+1) 1 point
A (+1), D (-1) & C (+1) 1 point
A (+1), B (-1) & E (+1) 1 point
A (+1), D (-1) & E (+1) 1 point
C (+1), B (-1) & E (+1) 1 point
C (+1), D (-1) & E (+1) 1 point
A (+1), B (-1) & D (-1) 0 point
E (+1), B (-1) & D (-1) 0 point
C (+1), B (-1) & D (-1) 0 point
A (+1) & B (-1) 0 point
A (+1) & D (-1) 0 point
C (+1) & B (-1) 0 point
C (+1) & D (-1) 0 point
E (+1) & B (-1) 0 point
E (+1) & D (-1) 0 point

We will return to the implications of these scenarios in the latter half of our article. 

How Is It Different From Partial Credits?

In questions with negative markings, there are only correct or incorrect answers; the latter results in a point deduction. 

How about partial credits? Candidates can still receive part of the full mark for a “partially correct” answer based on the degree of accuracy or completeness. Furthermore, incorrect answers do not lead to negative marks.

One example is PTE’s speaking tasks, whose total score is decided based on numerous criteria, such as pronunciation, fluency, content, etc. 

How To Reduce Negative Marking

Here is what we can observe from the specific example discussed earlier (refer back to the “A Specific Example” section): 

  • Securing 2 correct statements earns you higher scores than 2 correct statements and 1 wrong. 
  • Choosing multiple wrong answers or skipping the question entirely gives you the same score (0).

These numbers should give you clear hints on how to reduce negative markings, whether it is a listening or reading task. 

  • Prioritize Accuracy over Quantity: Always aim for the highest number of correct answers, even if that means you have to choose fewer options overall.
  • Avoid Baseless Guesses: Guessing blindly is one of the deadliest mistakes in questions with negative markings. Analyze each item carefully, and select an answer only when you are at least 99% confident in its accuracy. 

If you still cannot decide, either count on educated guesses/eliminations or just skip the question altogether to avoid point deductions.


Negative marking in PTE is probably one of the trickiest facets of the test. We have suggested several tricks to help you minimize point losses, but at the end of the day, practice makes perfect. 

Polish your skills using mock tests from trustable websites like PTE Magic, and write to us if you still need advice.

green iguana
Moni PTE Magic

My name is Moni, and I am a seasoned PTE teacher with over 6 years of experience. I have helped thousands of students overcome their struggles and achieve their desired scores. My passion for teaching and dedication to my student’s success drives me to continually improve my teaching methods and provide the best possible support. Join me on this journey toward PTE success!

More from PTE Magic

PTE Results On Hold: What Are the Reasons & Solutions?

PTE Results On Hold: What Are the Reasons & Solutions?

One of the reasons PTE reigns in its current popularity is the impressively quick booking period. It takes little time to schedule a date for the exam and even less to receive the results. Therefore, PTE results on hold longer than necessary are abnormal and might spread panic among candidates, especially first-timers. Our PTE Magic’s […]

Is PTE Rescore Possible? How to Request a Rescore?

Is PTE Rescore Possible? How to Request a Rescore?

Most of the time, PTE results effectively reflect test-takers’ English proficiency levels. However, there might be an off chance that some candidates are not satisfied with their scores. So, can you request a PTE rescore in this case? Or will it even lower your score? This guide by PTE Magic will tell you everything you […]

PTE Headphone & Microphone Positioning Best Practices

PTE Headphone & Microphone Positioning Best Practices

Despite being underrated by many, a headset greatly contributes to your PTE score, especially in the Listening and Speaking sections. Imagine sitting an exam with a poor-quality pair of PTE headphones and a microphone. You might end up missing all the important information in the audio or failing to record your full spoken responses. Months […]

How Should You Prepare And Study for PTE 90? Expert Tips

How Should You Prepare And Study for PTE 90? Expert Tips

PTE 90 is the highest score possible for this esteemed English proficiency test, opening the doors for thousands of career opportunities. Some consider this goal unrealistic, but in fact, many candidates manage a perfect 90 even on their first attempt. Our specialist team from PTE Magic has conducted thorough interviews with these students to discover […]

How to Study For PTE 79? Top 4 Tips For Success

How to Study For PTE 79? Top 4 Tips For Success

As PTE 79 indicates extremely competent English levels, it is understandable why many learners consider it their ultimate goal with the PTE exam. With such an impressive score in their profiles, most students do not have to worry about their future university or college entry. Seeking an Australian visa for both short- and long-term stays […]

How to Get a PTE 65 Score On Your First Try

How to Get a PTE 65 Score On Your First Try

A PTE 65 demonstrates your high level of English proficiency, allowing you to study at your dream universities or land your ideal job.  The good news is that anyone can achieve a 65 score on their PTE test with the right study plan and dedication, regardless of their starting point. Our team at PTE Magic […]