The PTE Academic exam contains question types that mimic real life situations faced by people studying or working in an English environment. One of the most interesting question types in the Speaking section of PTE is the PTE Re-tell Lecture question type.
Imagine you are attending a seminar or a university lecture. A friend was supposed to come with you but could not because of some reason. Afterwards, when you meet the friend he asks you to tell him about the lecture. That in a nutshell is what the re-tell lecture question type is about.
You will hear a lecture and then have to “re-tell” it or in other words describe what it was about. How well you score depends upon your ability to listen and comprehend spoken text and on your ability to give a well structured response containing the key points from the text.
This sounds like a daunting task to several test takers, but you will soon see that with adequate preparation and by following correct methods you can do very well in this question type.
Here are the basics that you need to know:
|Number of questions||3~4|
|Scoring||Contributes to Listening and Speaking scores.|
|Time to answer||Lecture starts playing after 3 seconds. Once it ends, you will have 10 seconds to organize your response and then another 40 seconds to record your response.|
The best way to approach Re-tell Lecture questions is to just treat them like a normal classroom or work conversation. Don’t stress about capturing each and every piece of information in the audio. As long as you are able to get the main idea and couple of important points, you will do fine.
Most of the times you will have an accompanying picture with the audio. These days Pearson has also started giving video lectures. In either case you have a visual beforehand to look at and understand what the lecture might be about. Don’t ignore it! Even if your mind gets a little hint about the audio, it will pick up the information much better.
Most American and British universities have put up some of their course lectures as free podcasts on their websites. These are a good source of daily practice. For instance, check out this excellent podcast series from Yales.
Look at the picture and try to guess what the lecture will be about. The picture is also useful when you are not able to understand anything at all from the audio. Then you can make some statements based just on the visual.
Once the audio starts, try to understand the theme and the main points. Take some notes. All you need is 2~3 good points to give a good response. Look out for words that refer to a person, place, thing, event, incident, etc. Words that indicate the beginning of an explanation, a relationship between different parts or an example are also important. Which are these words? Some of these are – because, therefore, however, but, for instance, for example, firstly, secondly, finally, etc.
There is a complete lecture on the signpost and connecting words that you can use in PTE Academic, in the Premium course.
Once the audio ends you will have 10 seconds to organize your response before speaking. Having a template in mind helps to quickly organize the response. If you already know how to begin the first sentence, how to end your response and how to include the main points in between, you will be able to deliver a well-structured response quickly.
As soon as the microphone opens, start speaking. Speak confidently! Focus on your pronunciation and fluency. Even if you have doubts about the content of your answer, don’t worry about it now. Deliver a complete structured response within the time given to you.
The biggest mistake that some test takers make in this question type is not following a well defined method and strategy. You can’t leave it to chance. Follow these tips to maximize your score.
Have a template in mind
Have a structure that you will use to deliver your response ready in your mind. Practice speaking the opening sentence and the concluding sentence again and again. In the exam if you spend time thinking too much about how to organize your response, how to begin, how to connect or how to conclude, it will reflect adversely in your spoken response. Your fluency will suffer as a result. Don’t let that happen!
Don’t repeat same thing again and again
Make sure to have 2~3 good points and then speak about them properly in your response. You don’t need too many points. You should also not make the mistake of repeating the same thing again and again. The only exception if when you don’t have anything else to talk about. In that case definitely repeat the point, but if possible, in different ways.
Deliver a structured response within given time
Keep an eye on timer always. If you see the time is running out, instead of speaking only half a point, try to move to the concluding statement. It is important to demonstrate that you know how to begin and end an explanation.
Make use of the picture
Often the picture with the lecture can tell you quite a bit. In case you find the lecture very difficult, you can speak a few points based just on the picture. Don’t ignore it. Also look at it when listening to the lecture. Try to understand how the audio relates to the picture. This way you will understand much better.
Focus more on fluency and pronunciation
Don’t worry so much about “what to say” that you ignore “how to say” it. Keep your response simple. You don’t need to dig out every single point that might seem important. Follow a simple approach and focus on delivering the response properly.
Keep some filler statements ready
This goes hand in hand with the use of templates. Prepare a few generic statements to use in your Re-tell lecture responses. When you can’t think of anything else to say, you can use these statements. For e.g. – “The lecture gives very insightful information about the topic in question.”