PTE: Summarize Written Text; What it is, and How to Improve it

pte summarize written text - what is it and how to improve

Are you considering studying abroad? Or maybe you are migrating to an English speaking country? The Pearson Test of English is an English test geared towards acceptance into international universities and immigration to English speaking countries.

The PTE is a computer-based test that is divided into three categories: speaking and writing, reading, and listening. All in all, it amounts to twenty questions, spread out in a little over three hours. 

Speaking and writing: 77-93 minutes

Reading: 32-41 minutes

Listening: 45-57 minutes

Preparing for the PTE does not have to be daunting when you break it down into sections and familiarise yourself with the content. 

Related Article: PTE Preparation – How To Best Prepare For The PTE

Speaking and Writing

The speaking and writing sections of the PTE is allocated between 77-93 minutes, depending on how you manage your time. This is the largest section of the PTE and can be daunting. So let’s pull it apart, to better understand what you’re up against, and prepare you to achieve your goal score!

Personal Introduction

You will start the test with a spoken, personal introduction.  Then the system will give a prompt to begin your 25 seconds to read the prompt and prepare your response. This does not seem like a lot of time, but don’t let it overwhelm you. 

It is simply an introduction to the exam, it is not scored, but it is sent along with your score to the institutions that you choose to receive your PTE scores. With that in mind, speak clearly and distinctly. 

Read Aloud

Read aloud is made up of 6-7 questions. You will be responding to a text prompt of up to 60 words with 30-40 seconds to read. Then you will be given time to read aloud, the time differs depending on the length of the prompt. 

You will see a progress bar at the bottom of the screen, which indicates how much time you have left. When you hear a tone the bar will begin to move. Speak clearly and pace yourself with the bar.

This question is scored on the amount of content spoken, fluency, and pronunciation. 

Repeat Sentence

In this question, you will be given a recording of 3-9 seconds. You will then see the microphone switch to ‘recording’ mode, which is the start of your allocated 15 seconds to answer.

It is as basic as it sounds, repeat what you hear, word for word, and in the same order. 

This is also scored on content, fluency, and pronunciation. 

Describe Image

Here you will find 6-7 questions. You will have 25 seconds to study each image and prepare your answer. It will help if you take notes. When you hear the tone you will have 40 seconds to give your answer. 

Scored for content, oral fluency, and pronunciation.

Re-tell Lecture

This segment is made up of 3-4 questions. This segment requires your most avid attention. The prompt will be at 90 seconds, and you will be given 40 seconds to answer. You are given 10 seconds in-between the prompt and your answer to prepare, but you should be taking notes to prepare prior to the answer portion. 

This section tests your ability to understand and interpret content, and is scored among the highest in the test.

Answer Short Question

Here you will be given 10-12 questions, each with a 3-9 second prompt. You will then have 10 seconds to give your answer. 

Your answer should consist of one word, ideally, but can be a few words. This is testing your vocabulary, not your comprehension. 

Summarize Written Text

Summarize written text is a high stakes segment as it encompasses the main areas of your written and spoken English: comprehension, grammar, and vocab. 

You will be given 3 texts of up to 300 words to read, and then 10 minutes per text to summarize. Responses should be one sentence, no longer than 75 words. 


The essay section will present you with a 2-3 sentence prompt. You will then have 20 minutes to write your 200-300 word response.

You will be scored on the usual factors, but also on the development and essay structure. 

The last question type of the Speaking and Writing Test will test writing skills.

3 Tips On Nailing Your Written Text 

The written portions of the Speaking and Writing section, like Summarize Written Text and the other written exercises can be difficult even in your native language, but there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed! Below are some tips that will help you stay focused, and ace the summarize written text section of your PTE.

1.Focus on Main Points

Focusing on main points goes for your reading of the prompt, and your answer. When you’re reading, try and identify the main points without getting sidetracked by additional information. 

Once you’ve found what you consider to be the main point, jot it down immediately in your notebook. Even if you write more in your notebook than you intend to answer, you’ve already started the summarizing process. This way, when it comes to giving your answer, you can summarize your notes, instead of starting with the original larger chunk of text.

2. Keep Vocabulary Simple 

Don’t get fancy with your vocabulary. This section is concerned with your comprehension.  How well you understood the content of the text, and how well you can relay it. The main focus is on effectively communicating the points in the text, not to achieve a sophisticated level of the language.

With that in mind, when summarizing your text, keep your vocabulary simple. This will focus your energy on the concept rather than word choice.

3. Take Practice Tests 

A practice test, or a mock test, can be a lifesaver. The tests are formatted as though are you taking the PTE.  You are able to take them over as many times as you like until you feel confident enough to schedule the real deal.

Mock tests allow you to see where you are at, what areas need improvement and where you are comfortable. Aside from the language itself, mock tests also give you a chance to familiarize yourself with the format of the PTE, by giving you a feel for the recording and timing methods used. 


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