Negative marking in PTE Academic – How it works and How to Strategically Win Over it?

For anyone preparing for the PTE Academic, negative marking is a big concern…and rightly so!

If one does not strategize well and plan and practice ahead of time, they can end up losing all their precious scores because of negative marking. This is why it is important to deal with negative marking in PTE Academic in the wisest manner.

Before we go any further, discussing the negative marking in the PTE Academic, we must understand the difference between ‘Partial Credit’ and ‘Negative Marking’.

Partial Credit vs. Negative Marking

In the PTE Test, every time a candidate proves a skill, he is credited with some marks even if they have committed a mistake. This method of marking is called ‘Partial Credit’.

On the other hand, ‘Negative marking’ deducts one point for every incorrect answer.

Tasks that have negative marking

The following three tasks in the PTE Test use partial credit:

  1. Multiple-choice, Choose multiple answers (Reading Module)
  2. Multiple-choice, Choose multiple answers (Listening Module)
  3. Highlight Incorrect Words (Listening Module)

For every correct answer, a candidate is rewarded 1 point and for every incorrect answer, 1 point is taken away.

Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple Answers

Under this head, imagine a scenario if a question has four different choices and two correct answers to it. In case, the candidate answers one correct option and skips the other one, he will be credited one point. However, there will be no negative marking for missing the other correct option.

But for choosing every incorrect option, the candidate loses a mark.

So, a candidate gets one point for every correct answer and loses one point for every incorrect one but they do not lose a mark for missing one of the correct options.

In that sense, if a candidate selects all the four options, they score two points for answering correct options and lose two points for selecting two incorrect answers. This brings the final score to 0.

This means that the least score that a candidate can get in this section is 0 and not -1.

Tip: In this Section, it is recommended you select at least one best option that you feel out of all is correct( Not more than one if you are unsure ). Reason being, minimum marking is zero here so even if your assumption goes wrong you’ll end up getting zero marks. The scenario remains the same even if the question is left blank.


Let us understand  by an example,

The candidate exemplified here is going to get zero marks for this question.

1- For the correct answer

minus 1 – For incorrect answer


Now let’s imagine, if this candidate would have chosen only one option. let us imagine that she assumed the 5th option suits the best answer to this question and selects only 5th one.

She gets one mark 1 here even though it was a guess.

Now, let us think of a scenario when she selected the first option and that’s the incorrect one. She ends up with zero marks and the situation would have remained the same even if she left the question empty.

you can analogize the situation with the phrase “ something is better than nothing “.

Isn’t that cool enough!


Highlight Incorrect Words

In this section of the test, the concept of partial credit is used. This means that there are no negative markings and the minimum a candidate can score in this section is 0.

Do’s and Don’ts to avoid negative marking in this section

  • Listen to the audio very carefully.
  • While listening to audio concentrate on the words written.
  • Do not distract yourself while listening to the audio, even if you felt like you missed previous Incorrect one and are unsure about it forget it, and Focus on the next word.
  • Click on the word only, if you are sure about it.
  • Once the audio is finished, do not make any changes in your selection, unless you feel it is by mistakenly selected word.


If you have understood this blog about negative marking and partial credit in the PTE Test, you will realize that negative marking is not a big concern.

Also, for anyone in the process of preparing for the PTE Academic, remember to choose online PTE coaching to clear all such doubts about marking patterns and strategies to follow to maximize one’s scoring goals. is one such platform that offers different services such as PTE Practice Test, PTE Mock Test, insightful evaluation of the tests and every possible guidance from teachers who have years of experience in the industry. The candidates also get quality content that makes preparation a smooth journey for them.

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