PET: A description and guide to success

The Preliminary English Test (PET) is an intermediate-level certification that demonstrates your English language proficiency in the areas of work, study, and traveling. Taking the test can leave you with one of several different results, such as Pass with Distinction, Pass with Merit, Pass, Level A2, and Fail. The goal of all students taking the PET is obviously to pass, and so much the better if you can get a high score. Want a few suggestions on how to best prepare get a high score on the PET? You’ll find some here, sorted by theme based on the PET’s three different modules:

Paper 1: Reading and Writing

You’re given 1 hour and 30 minutes for this portion of the test. It’s composed of 8 different parts where you’ll need to demonstrate comprehension of different types of texts, followed by a prompt to write a 100-word essay. Don’t be misled by the generous amount of time you’re given – even if this part seems like the easiest of the three, it could end up being the most complicated if you don’t organize your time well. The best approach is to divide the first hour in half, devoting each half to a specific part of the test (for example, the first half hour for the Reading test, and the second for the Writing test), giving yourself the remaining 30 minutes to check your work. Preparing for the PET means doing lots of practice tests. Here you’ll find a few for the Reading section and also for the Writing section here.

Paper 2: Listening

This part lasts for 30 minutes. It consists of listening to a few audio clips of people speaking and then demonstrating that you have understood the meaning. To make sure you pass this portion you’ll want to to some practice exercises found in the Cambridge English Preliminary 7 Self-study Pack Student’s Book with Answers and Audio CDs 2, available on This book is accompanied by an Audio CD with practice listening exercises that are very helpful! Otherwise you can also find some free practice exercises for the Listening part here.

Paper 3: Speaking

Duration is 10-12 minutes. This part consists of a conversation between two candidates and the proctor. There are lots of resources out there that will help practice for this portion. Have a look at this article for a list of Speaking practice tests. Among the sites listed you’ll find example questions that your PET proctor very well may use during your test. Happy studying and…break a leg!

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