PTE Preparation Blog

Summarize Spoken Text - How to get the scores you need in one attempt

To develop a winning listening strategy, we experimented with two common strategies that could be applied to listening. One group applied the most common strategy amongst test takers, to take notes while listening in order to formulate a summary later. The other group took...

Author: GLS LLP       Date: 10-03-2017

In this blog, you will find tips and strategies that will make summarize spoken text question type seem like a walk in the park, no matter the level of your English skills. However, if you have not read "Summarize Written Text: Understand the Game" I strongly recommend that you read the blog before going further. It will give you a strong basis to understand and implement the tips and strategies in this blog.

The sub skills for listening and writing for summarize spoken text question type are interrelated. You cannot strategize for each sub skill; hence, we will reveal strategies by activity type namely reading and writing. In this blog, the strategies and tips have been divided into four parts "While Listening", "Before Writing", "While Writing", "After Writing".

While Listening

We have observed too many PTE test takers spend too much time trying to write down the key points/topics/ideas word for word. As a result, they are unable to comprehend the lecture and then have trouble writing a summary. Which costs them important points for content.

To develop a winning listening strategy, we experimented with two common strategies that could be applied to listening. One group applied the most common strategy amongst test takers, to take notes while listening in order to formulate a summary later. The other group took no notes and solely focused on listening and comprehending the message of the text. We found that members of the latter group did significantly better than the former group.

The key to successfully comprehend the message by using your listening senses is provided in the instructions for this item type. The instructions clearly state that you listen with an objective of presenting a summary for a fellow student who could not attend the lecture. You may not realize this but this is an exercise all humans indulge in and not just while listening to a lecture. At work or at home you get a phone call asking you to pass on a message. You do not make a note or memorize the message word by word; you simply remember the main topic and pass on the message in your own words. At school or college, when your friends ask you what was taught in a particular lecture; you do not refer to your notes to answer the question. You simply explain what you learned from the lecture.

Listening for summarize spoken text is no different. This is not a repeat sentence item type. The machine scoring system does not expect you to repeat the lecture. What is expected is that you write a summary just as you would write or explain by speech, to a friend who missed the lecture. To achieve this objective, apply your most powerful tool, "IMAGINATION". Listen to the audio recording just as you would when listening to an interesting lecture by your favorite teacher in school/college or a phone call from your best friend. Be oblivious of everything else. Let comprehending the message be your sole focus.

To make the audio content a part of yourself apply associative techniques. This includes that as you listen and comprehend information; link it to your experiences and knowledge base. This technique will etch the message in your memory; it will help you predict what the content of the audio is likely to be and most importantly it will help you comprehend the complete lecture in entirety.

The recording may contain statistics and examples. There is no need to remember or make note of these as they would not form part of your summary. What you must etch in your memory is the topic/point/idea that the speaker tried to make through the use of statistics and examples.

If you must take notes, write only the key words. Key words will be terms that will be hard for you to remember and will be impossible to write the summary without. These key words might be terms that speaker uses to describe something or are unfamiliar to you. When you do make notes do not look at the notepad or let your attention diverge from listening and comprehending the lecture.

Before writing

Before you start writing, recall the key topics/points/ideas along with supporting topics/points/ideas that you heard in the lecture recording. Make a note of these in your notebook. These notes will form the basis and content of your summary.

While Writing

PTE academic is an academic English test. It is imperative that you write in academic English. Writing in academic English means you use appropriate academic vocabulary, you do not use slang words, you do not use contractions such as don't, couldn’t, you do not use abbreviations or short forms such as "2" for "to", you do not use words such as "actually", "really", "very" to emphasize a point and you use proper punctuation. Furthermore, contain your summary within 50 words and 70 words. This will help you get full marks for form.

While writing link all the topics/points/ideas together in a manner that will make sense to your friend. For scoring in content and grammar it is imperative that your summary is easily comprehensible so your friend is able to deduce the message of the speaker. You should not mention statistics or examples in your summary, just the result of these findings should suffice.


You must write better than you speak. Do not experiment with complex grammar during actual PTE test. Use grammar that you are comfortable with. We have observed that during the test many students write excellent summaries but without punctuations. Use punctuation where appropriate or it will cost you dearly.


The machine expects you to use appropriate choice of words. "Appropriate choice of words" means to use academic vocabulary and show range of vocabulary in your answer. You can do this by using synonyms where appropriate. Try not to use the same words as in the lecture recording. Try using a synonym for these where appropriate. Keep your sentences short and concise. Your choice of words should make grammatical sense in the context of the sentence.

After Writing

After you are done typing your answer, check your answer. You should check if your summarys' length is appropriate; if it contains all aspects leading to the conclusion, it makes common sense, grammar is correct, choice of words is appropriate, it shows variety and use of punctuation is appropriate.

I hope you found the tips in this section helpful. For complete PTE preparation, I strongly recommend that you enroll for one of our PTE preparation courses to practice your skills in an environment that stimulates actual PTE test. You will get G-Analytics to tell you what skills you need to focus on most and personal tutor feedback to help you with any difficulties that you face. So you get the scores you need in one attempt.

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