How To Improve Your PTE Listening Skills

How to improve your PTE listening skills

The Pearson Test of English is divided into 3 sections: speaking and writing, listening and reading. Each section is as important as the next, and tests your language skills from different angles. 

Related Article: How To Improve Your PTE Reading Skills

What is ‘Listening’ on the PTE?

The Listening section of the PTE is allocated a suggested 45-57 minutes. It is important to not get stuck on the time because this could overwhelm you and ultimately slow you down. 

Rather, familiarize yourself with the test’s sections so you won’t get any nasty surprises. In the listening section you can expect the following exercises: 

Summarize the spoken text 

For this question, you will be given 10 minutes to summarize a spoken text. The recording will last 60-90 seconds, and you will have 12 seconds in between recording time and writing time to prepare. 

The task assumes that you are summarizing a lecture for an absent student.

Multiple choice questions/multiple answers

Here you will listen to a prompt of 40-90 seconds, and then you will be given 7 seconds to choose whatever answers are relevant from a checklist below. 

This section expects there to be multiple answers for every prompt, so pay attention to the details.

Fill in the blanks 

This section means that you will need to be paying close attention to both the text and the audio prompt. Below the audio box will be a transcript of the prompt with blank spaces. You will need to fill out the blank spaces as you hear them.

Highlight correct summary

You will be given an audio prompt of 30-90 seconds. Below the audio box, there will be a list of multiple choice answers. You need to pick the answer that best sums up the audio prompt. 

Try not to get caught up on the details here, and focus instead on the big picture of the prompt. 

Multiple choice questions/single answers

The multiple-choice/single answers will be formatted the same as the multiple answers section, but this time you will only need to choose one answer. 

Select the missing word

This question will present you with a prompt of 20-70 seconds. There will be missing words, usually at the end of the prompt. Sometimes it may be a single word or a phrase. You will need to then select the missing word from the list of multiple choice answers below.

Highlight the incorrect word

You will be presented with text in a similar format to ‘fill in the blanks’, however, this time the words will be misused. You will have 10 seconds to get familiar with the words in the transcript and then the audio will begin. 

As the audio plays you will need to identify the words that do not match the transcript. 

Write from dictation

For the last question, you will hear a sentence that will last only 5 seconds, you will have 7 seconds between each audio prompt. The aim is to write down the sentence exactly as you hear it. 

Each word is worth a point, so do not rush through.


5 Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills

1. Get To Know Different Accents

The PTE is geared towards relocation. One of the things it does well is that it tests you using different accents. English is spoken around the world, and the PTE is taken around the world, so they prepare you for wherever it is you may be headed to. 

Get used to hearing different accents by looking up Youtube channels, watching tv from different countries and seeking out different English speakers.

2. Practice Active Listening 

Active listening is also a great trait in your everyday life. It means that you are participating in the words and conversations going on around you. 

Whether it be passing signs, song lyrics, or a friend’s story from the day, active listening prepares you to take notice of the details in both theme and language.

3. Watch Your Favorite Shows With Subtitles 

Watching shows in English helps with listening in general, but following along with subtitles helps you get to the next level. By following along you can identify the words and improve your reading speed more easily with the audio carrying you along. 

It also helps that the shows can be whatever you want. This will prepare you for the highlight incorrect word portion because you will be used to following along with both audio and text. 

4. Utilize Podcasts 

A lot of the listening section of the PTE asks you to get to the route of the audio, or the theme. In the multiple-choice, you will have to identify several themes, and the multiple-choice single question asks for just one theme. 

Of course, you also have to summarize the spoken text. Try using podcasts as a way of absorbing a lot of information, and trying to boil it down to one point. Pick the main topics and weed out the extra information to get your summarizing skills really sharp. 

5. Learn Some Grounding Exercises

Listening, in general, takes a great amount of presence, not just when listening in English. To really listen you need to be focused, and this can be tough when you are busy worrying about what your goal will be, where you will study or what the person next to you is doing. 

When you familiarize yourself with grounding exercises you stay present in the test and give yourself a better chance of accessing the knowledge you have, rather than overwhelming yourself with unnecessary factors. 


What They Look For

There are certain skills that the markers look for when it comes to any test. In terms of the listening section of the PTE they are looking out for the following:

    • Be able to tell the difference between main and supporting ideas
    • Summarizing skills
    • Familiar with academic vocabulary
    • Understanding of context and implicit information
    • Understanding of general ideas
    • The ability to organize information
    • Can identify errors
    • The ability to link different points together

If you practice the above tips and familiarize yourself with the practice exam, you should be able to achieve your ideal goal in no time!


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