PTE Headphone & Microphone Positioning Best Practices

Posted on 25/01/2024 by Moni PTE Magic


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 or even years of preparation going down the drain due to such a technical issue is the last thing you want. Follow the guide below from PTE Magic to keep this problem at bay!

(Read our Vietnamese version here)

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Why Do I Need a Good Headset?

PTE Headphone & Microphone Positioning

A headset can be seen as the bridge between you and the computer. Not only when taking the test, but practicing also calls for first-grade headphones and a microphone to self-evaluate your performance better.

  • Listen to the audio clearly: A high-quality pair of headphones ensures smooth and crisp audio delivery to test-takers. Your headphones allow you to catch up with all information, which is beneficial in detail-oriented question types like Fill in the Blanks.
  • Record your spoken answers accurately: What sets your spoken responses apart is excellent pronunciation and fluency. You don’t want a substandard microphone to mess with your answer. Even a small error in communications can take a toll on your overall score. 
  • Block unwanted ambient noises: Background noises can distract you from the playing audio or interfere with your recording. That’s when a good pair of headphones comes in! It will block those distractions, leaving you a quiet, intact space to perform your best.
  • Get used to the testing environment: Brace yourself to wear a headset for up to 3 hours during the test! It might be quite weary at first. So, you need to practice with headphones until you can comfortably take the test. Think of it as an assistant, not a barrier that holds you back.

How To Pick Up The Best Headsets For Yourself?

The Seller

While the choice of headsets and headphones can vary among PTE centers, not all types can work wonders for you. Pearson mostly utilizes headphones from Andrea or Plantronics, so you can consider models from these two brands for comparable quality. 

That said, their high price tags might be a turn-off for some learners. If you are on a budget or can’t lay your hand on those products, other alternatives will come in handy.

Headsets from the product series of Sennheiser or Logitech come with more affordable pricing without compromising their quality. They are also widely available; you can get one at almost any local electronics store.

Quality And Function

When picking a pair of headphones, quality should be your priority. Choose a headphone model with superior noise-canceling microphone technology to ward off background noises and distractions. 

Also, don’t forget to test the sound quality of the headphones! Check if the item’s audio is delivered clearly and crisply and if the volume is enough to catch even the slightest sound. 

And let’s not forget the mic – our unsung hero. Go for a highly sensitive microphone that can record your full responses, not missing even an ending sound.

Comfort is also a worth-mentioning aspect. If you feel weary or hurt after wearing the headset for an extended time, it’s best to switch to another one.

Guide On PTE Headset’s Microphone Position And Setup

Set up the headset improperly, and you are basically asking for technical glitches to haunt you during the test. However, there is no cut-and-dried rule for microphone position.

We’ve experimented with different setups and noticed these two positions might yield the best results:

  • Parallel or above your nose: This position restricts the airy sounds from your breaths. Although there could be some background noise sneaking into your record, the issue remains minor.
  • Close to your chin or below the lip: This position captures the clearest sounds, yet you might have to check the microphone occasionally.

Placing the mic right in front of your mouth or under your nose is a no-go. That opens the door for airy sounds to come in and mess with your responses.

Test Your Headset’s Microphone Properly 

When you put on the headset, don’t rush into the test without checking the mic. First, adjust the headband so that it can fit your head snuggly without hurting you. 

Coming next is the mic position. Whether you place it parallel/above the nose or below your lip, the distance from the mic to your mouth should be two fingers.

Now is the time to inspect the microphone quality. The test is as simple as recording a complete sentence and examining whether it captures all the sounds accurately.

If you notice little to no breathing noises, you’re good to go. Suppose you detect any technical problems. In that case, inform the officials immediately to address them, ensuring you can start the exam on time.

Should You Choose a Bluetooth Or Cable Headset? 

It might be tempting to use tangle-free Bluetooth headphones. However, the trade-off is that wireless headphones or headsets leave much room for audio lag and unstable connectivity. The connection loss can result in unclear sounds or disrupt your spoken responses, thereby impacting your score.

It’s okay if you only utilize Bluetooth headphones for practicing at home. But when it comes to taking PTE real or mock tests, investing in cable headphones is well worth it. 

The cable builds a strong and reliable connection between the headphones and the computer, delivering and recording spot-on audio. Using this type of headset also minimizes the risk of technical issues, giving you peace of mind to complete the exam.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Headphones and Microphones

Mistake #1. Speak Too Quietly Or Too Loud

No matter how advanced the mic is, it can’t capture your breathy whispers. Try to make clear, audible sounds, but don’t shout into the mic! Remember, other test-takers are around. And nobody wants to hear your voice in their recordings anymore than you’d want theirs in yours.

Mistake #2. Speak Too Fast Or Pause Too Much

Some candidates assume that maintaining a fast speaking pace equals excellent fluency. That’s not the whole story, though. Speak too fast, and you risk making mistakes or missing out on some important points. What matters here is you keep a steady pace without pausing too much.

Mistake #3. Place The Mic Too Close In Front Of Your Mouth

Think placing the mic close to your mouth would record clearer sounds? Think again! Don’t forget that along with your speech, your breaths will also be captured, which might sometimes overshadow your spoken responses. 

No matter how good your performance is, you’ll receive zero points if the AI system doesn’t recognize your answer.

Mistake #4. Touch Or Adjust The Microphone Constantly

As sensitive as it is, the mic can capture even your slightest touch. It’s totally fine to adjust it every now and then to ensure optimal recordings. Still, constantly adjusting the microphone can backfire, allowing ambient noises to interfere with your answer.

Final Thought 

PTE headphones and microphones are small yet mighty assistants, helping you ace the test with the highest result. Even a minor glitch can take away several points from your score. Therefore, remember to check the headset carefully before taking the test.

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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!


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