PTE Listening Tips: Self-Improvement

After working through the strategies to improve your English listening skills, you can work on specific areas of the test. In this part, you will need to apply a number of listening and writing skills.

Below are improvement tips on the question types that combine writing and listening skills.

Summarize Spoken Text

In the Summarize Spoken Text questions you will be scored on content, form, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling.


Content and Form


Make sure you write a good, clear summary of all the key points in the text and also condense the most important supporting points.

In this question, you will not be given the context of the recording before it starts. Make sure to listen carefully from the start to help understand the context and the information given.

Some helpful tips for the content and form, to maximize your score are:

  • Take notes on your Erasable Noteboard Booklet or in the response box on the screen
  • Do not try to write down sentences (you will not have enough time)
  • Use symbols and abbreviations in your notes
  • Write down key points and their relationships to others
  • Start with an overview sentence to introduce your summary
  • Use cohesive devices to link the information as you write
  • Try to write between 50 and 70 words

Overall, make sure you summarize the text in your own words as this will show that you have understood the purpose of the text. If you do not write in your own words, you will score zero for content.

If you write less than 40 or more than 100 words, you will score zero.




It is important that grammar is correct as you will be tested on sentence structure, punctuation and capitalization.

Try not to be too ambitious with your grammar to avoid making mistakes. Try to use grammatical structures you feel comfortable with.

In this question type you should:

  • Communicate meaning clearly and concisely
  • Use complex sentences where possible to score more points
  • Write sentences between 18 and 30 words – long sentences are hard to control grammar
  • Check your response for common errors before submitting


Vocabulary and Spelling


You will score points if you use the correct and appropriate vocabulary in the Summarize Spoken Text question type. Use words from the recording if you use them appropriately, however try to use synonyms to replace words already used.

You will also need to make sure to spell every word correctly to receive maximum points. Try to type as carefully as possible during this question. If you can not remember how to spell a word, guess as it is better to include the word than leave it out, even if it is incorrect.

Don’t forget to use the space bar to show the end of each word.

Write from Dictation

Another question that tests both listening and writing is the Write from Dictation question type.

In this question type, you will need to write the words in the correct order with the correct spelling in order to score points.

Before the recording starts, place your cursor in the response box and get ready to type as soon as you hear the recording. Make sure to reproduce what you hear exactly as you heard it as the recording will only be played once.

Remember to start the sentence with a capital letter and end it with a full stop (period).

Type as you hear it and when finished, check for any mistakes. Always make sure that to read over your answer before clicking next.


After working through the strategies to improve your English listening skills, you can work through ways to improve your score by reviewing each question type.

In the Multiple-choice questions and Select Missing Word questions your listening skills will be tested.


Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer and Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer


Before the recording plays, you will have a short amount of time to read the prompt. Use this time to listen carefully and help understand the context of what you are about to hear.

In both question types, follow the below tips:

  • Do take notes of key points – they will be repeated, developed or highlighted in some way.
  • Don’t write sentences, as you won’t have time.
  • Don’t choose options based on the words and phrases matching from the given text as synonyms and paraphrasing is usually used.
  • Do keep listening to the end of the recording as sometimes more relevant information will be given or the speaker may revise information already given.
  • If you are unsure what the correct answer or answers are, guess, as you will not lose a point for an incorrect answer.


The Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer question can be more difficult to answer and take longer as there is more than one correct option.


Fill in the Blanks


You will have 7 seconds before the recording starts to skim read to get the general meaning of the text.

In this question, you will need to type the exact same word heard in the recording. Do not stop and read what you have typed or you will lose the place where you were up to. Use the tab key to quickly move to the next box.

When the recording has finished, you should:

  • Check that you have filled all the blank spaces
  • Used the correct words
  • Check spelling and grammar

If you have made a mistake, select your original response and edit it. If you are not sure the response was wrong, just leave it.


Select Missing Word


In Select Missing Word you will need to predict what the speaker will say next. Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between listening methods.

In this question type, you need to listen carefully to the speaker and predict the last word or words of the text. You will need a good level of concentration for this question.

Try to check the audio progress indicator in the middle of the screen to tell how much time you have left. When time is up, you will need to select the missing word. If you are unsure, try to guess as you may be correct.


In Part 3: Listening, you will be tested on listening and reading skills in the question types Highlight Correct Summary and Highlight Incorrect Words.


Highlight Correct Summary


In this question type, skim read the summary options on the screen to get the general idea of what the text is about.

Try to take notes of key points on the Erasable Noteboard Booklet. Avoid writing sentences as you will not have time. Key points will be repeated, developed or highlighted in some way in the text.

For this question type, once the recording has finished, read the summary paragraphs carefully to find the best match with your notes and memory of the text heard.

You will be able to identify the correct summary because incorrect summaries will not contain the key points of the text. Incorrect summaries may include details of the text or information that is not in the text at all.

If unsure what the correct summary is, guess based on your notes as you will not lose a point for an incorrect answer.


Highlight Incorrect Words


In this question type, pay particular notice to the number of incorrect words you select as there are no more than 7 of them.

Before the recording starts, use the 10 seconds to skim read the text to help understand the context.

In this question type, you will not be able to guess the correct words from the text as the text is specially written to appear correct until you listen to the recording. Remember, do not select any words before you hear the recording.

Make sure that you listen very carefully. You will need to read and listen at the same time, and every time you hear a word that is not the same as the word you are reading, click it.

In this question, any word could be different. It could be a grammar word (article, preposition etc.) or a content word (noun, adjective, verb).

It is not advised to guess in this question type as you will lose a point for each incorrectly selected word.

At the end, make sure to check how many words you have selected. If you have selected more than 7, you need to deselect some as it cannot be more than 7.


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amin mirzaei

nice tips thanks a lot

faraz tajfirooz

Cheers mate