In the Writing section of PTE you read a long text and then write a one sentence summary of it. In the Listening section, you have something similar. But instead of reading, you will listen to an audio and then have to summarize it.
Unlike the writing section, here you can write more than 1 sentence.
The most important skill here is how well can you understand an audio and identify the main points in it. If you can do that, it is half the battle won. The second important part is to take those main points and frame them into a good summary.
Let’s look at the basics:
|Number of questions||2~3|
|Scoring||Contributes to both Listening and Writing scores.|
|Time to answer||10 minutes for each question. The unused time does not carry forward to other questions and sections.|
You will have 10 minutes to write the summary once the audio ends. The summary should be between 50 and 70 words. It is critical that you use this time wisely. Starting to write a summary in a hurry can leave you with a half baked response.
First of all as soon as the audio begins you should listen attentively for the key points. Your focus should not be to merely catch some words, but to understand the theme of the audio.
Take some notes as you listen. This will help you to remember the main points. Don’t write down whole sentences, only the key points. Any word that seems to be important in the context of the audio, that is what you should note down.
In your mind, form connections between the words as you listen. Try to draw up a picture or a scene corresponding to what you hear. This is the best way to listen to and understand a spoken text.
Once the audio ends, you have 10 minutes to frame your response. Don’t start writing immediately.
First, spend a couple of minutes reviewing your notes and adding to them based on your understanding of the audio. This exercise will give you some solid key points to start with.
Next, look at all the points that you have and separate the essential from the not so important. Unnecessary examples, additional details, etc. are not needed in a summary.
Finally, you will be left with only the most important points. Start putting them together in a summary. Unlike Summarize text, you can write more than one sentence here, but you should still stick to the word limit of 50 to 70 words. If you end up writing 2 or 3 sentences, make sure to check that the sentences are linked to each other properly.
In the end review for grammar, review for any spelling and punctuation marks and then submit your response confidently!
It is a good idea to get into a daily habit of listening to English language audios – TV news, podcasts or YouTube videos even. At the end of the audio, ask yourself – “What is the audio about? Can I explain it in a sentence or two?”. This the best way to build up your core skills for these and other question types.
Here are some more Tips and Tricks that you can use to maximize your score in this question type:
Take smart notes
Learn how to take notes smartly. Note taking should not be at the expense of understanding the audio. Your primary focus is always on understanding. The more you practice, more easily you will be able to distinguish important points from other information. And important points are what should go into your notes.
Make your own note taking shortcuts
This is often useful but varies from person to person. You can develop your own note taking shortcuts and strategies. For example – Will I write full words or only the first letter or only the first couple of letters of each words? Will I use arrows to show relationships between words? Will I use an underline to show that a word is important?
Don’t start writing immediately
A sure shot way of confusing yourself and wasting precious time is to start writing the summary immediately after the audio ends. Instead have a proper time management strategy. During your practice develop an understanding of how many minutes you need to spend on preparation, how many minutes on writing and how many minutes on review. When you write like this, you will write better, you will not have to re-do the work.
Write a structured response
Always write a properly structured response. That means you shouldn’t just jump from one point to another. Always begin with an overview sentence and make sure the following sentences link to each other properly.
Write simple sentences
Unless you are very confident of your grammar, do not try to write complicated sentences. Simple sentences are good enough to get you a high score provided you write them without any grammar errors.
Don’t include the unnecessary information
You should be very clear about what the most important points are and only include those in your summary. Including unnecessary information will eat up your word quota and also complicate the sentence structures. So ignore examples, additional details, repetition of the same point – these shouldn’t go into your summary.
Be mindful of the word count
If you are in a hurry, you can go over or under the word limit. That is a silly way of losing marks. Make sure your response is between 50 and 70 words. Always leave some time in the end for a review to fix such things.
Check the content
Once you have written the summary, ask yourself this simple question:
Will someone who has not heard the audio, be able to understand what it was about, by reading my summary?
If your answer is Yes, the person will be able to understand the main idea of the audio by just reading your summary, it means you have covered all the key points. Otherwise it means you have missed out on some key information that you must include.
Practice listening and summarizing
A good fun way to practice the core skills behind this question type is to listen to an audio on YouTube or a podcast and then try to summarize what has been said. You don’t need to worry about the word limit or getting it hundred percent right. Listen to it once, then write a summary and check it against the audio. If you have missed something important, rewrite it. A new channel like Bloomberg is a good source.
Let’s try out some summarize spoken text questions in a real PTE exam life software now!