PTE Preparation Blog

Select Missing Word - How to get the scores you need in one attempt

What is expected is that you predict and choose from a set of options, the last few words of the speaker. So, listen as if you are on a...

Author: GLS LLP       Date: 10-03-2017

Listening, select missing word item type is similar to listening, multiple-choice, choose single answer item type. The difference being that in case of select missing word item type, the purpose and the task that you have to perform while listening remains same. All it takes to do well, consistently in this item type, is a little practice. In this blog, we will suggest tweaked up strategies and tips that will enable you to perform these functions and choose the right answer consistently for this item type.

The task

Listening, select missing word is a listening item type that assesses listening skills only. There are generally 2-3 questions in this item type. The aim of this item type is to assess your ability to predict what a speaker is going to say next based on contextual clues. It is a multiple choice question where you will have to listen, comprehend, predict and then choose one correct response.

For listening, select missing word, the top section of the screen will contain instructions. These instructions may say something to the effect "You will hear a short recording on education. At the end of the recording the last word or group of words has been replaced by a beep. Select the correct option to complete the recording". The first sentence of the instruction gives you the topic of the recording and is the only part that varies for each question in this item type. During the PTE test, only the first sentence is worth reading as it gives you the topic of the recording to prepare yourself for listening.

A box representing the audio player will follow the instructions. The timer on audio player will countdown 7 seconds after which its status will change to playing and you will hear the audio recording. Below the audio player you will find the response options.


The communicative skill scored in this section is listening.

The listening sub skills tested in this section are Identifying the topic, theme or main ideas; identifying words and phrases appropriate to the context; understanding academic vocabulary; inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words; comprehending explicit and implicit information; comprehending concrete and abstract information; following an oral sequencing of information; predicting how a speaker may continue; forming a conclusion from what a speaker says; comprehending variations in tone, speed and accent.

The scoring for listening, select missing word is quite simple. You score 1 for selecting the correct answer and 0 for an incorrect selection.

Strategies and tips

Before Listening

You get 7 seconds of preparation time for select missing word. During this time, read the first sentence of the instruction to know the topic of the recording that you will hear. Prepare yourself to hear about this topic. You can prepare, by recalling your existing knowledge and/or questions about the topic that you may have.

While Listening

You know the purpose of your listening is to identify missing words at the end of the recording. To do so correctly you have to perform various tasks as you listen. You will have to understand the speech to choose the correct option that does not change the speakers intended message. You will have to remember the last sentence to choose words that will make grammatical sense in the context of the last sentence.

To achieve the above goals while listening, apply your most powerful tool "IMAGINATION". Imagine, you are listening to a phone call. When on a phone call, you know you have to respond when the speaker stops, so you listen carefully to comprehend the message; you choose to remember information that is relevant, you predict what the speaker is going to say next and simultaneously prepare what your response is going to be. You don't make notes or memorize the message word by word; you simply remember the main and sub topics of the conversation.

Listening for select missing word is no different. This is not a re-tell lecture item type. The machine scoring system does not expect you to repeat the lecture. What is expected is that you predict and choose from a set of options, the last few words of the speaker. So, listen as if you are on a phone call from a friend who is giving you the most exciting information; when the call drops and you miss the last few words. 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 that you tried to recall during the preparation time. This technique will etch the message in your memory; it will help you comprehend the complete message and most importantly, it will help you predict what the content of the audio is likely to be .

As you listen keep an eye on the progress bar of the audio player. When it reaches near the end, you know you are going to hear the last sentence. Repeat the last sentence, word by word, behind the speaker with a goal to memorize the sentence. When the audio stops write down what you memorized in your notebook.

While Answering

To get the correct answer for select missing word apply the trial and error method. Simply put each option at the end of the last sentence of the speech that you memorized and wote down in your notebook. The answer that meets the common sense and grammatical criteria will be your correct answer.

The common sense criteria will be met if the option clearly communicates the speaker's intended message for the sentence and for the entire speech.

The grammatical criteria holds that the option should make sense in the context of the grammar used in the sentence. For this purpose pay attention to the sentence's nouns, pronouns, articles and tenses to name a few.

If you are ready for practice of listening Select Missing Word item type; you can take the next step in your PTE Preparation by enrolling in one of our PTE preparation courses. You will get to practice your skills in an environment that simulates actual PTE test. You will have the G-Analytics tool to tell you what skills you need to focus on most and personal tutor feedback to help you along the way and get you the scores you need in one attempt. Have a look at our courses section to learn more.

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