PTE Academic Summarize Spoken Text


Part-3 of the PTE Academic Test is Listening module. This part tests a candidate’s ability to understand spoken English in an academic environment and also the ability to understand a variety of accents, both native and non-native. It is consisting of two sections. Section-1 has summarize spoken text and section-2 includes various question types like multiple-choice choose multiple answers, fill in the blanks, highlight correct summary, multiple-choice choose single answer, select missing word, highlight incorrect words, and the last one being write from dictation. With the exception of summarize spoken text, listening task types are not timed individually. The timer in the upper right hand corner of the computer screen can be referred to know the time remaining for the listening part.

The first section is summarize spoken text which will be for 10 minutes where you get to write a summary of about 50-70 words of the text you hear in the recording for around 60-90 seconds. The candidates have to do 2-3 of these tasks in a test. It tests the listening and writing skills of a candidate. The recording will be played only once and the candidate can make notes using the erasable note board booklet which can be used as a guide while answering the tasks.


The question task appears on the screen with instructions and an empty box space to type your response. There will also be an audio status box and volume control. Cut, copy and paste tools also will be there to edit what you write. The audio status box will count down from 12 seconds and the audio will begin.

While listening take notes of the main and supporting ideas, don’t write each and every word you hear. Use key words, abbreviations, symbols and arrows to highlight the main ideas. After the recording stops, you can organise the notes taken and decide what to write in the summary. You can score well if all the relevant points of the recording are mentioned in your summary within the word limit and it is grammatically well presented with no spelling or punctuation errors. Plan the summary writing in such a way that you leave 2 minutes in the end to cross check your response for any mistakes.

A candidate must be able to identify the topic, theme or main ideas, to summarise the main idea, identifying the supporting points or examples, identifying the speaker’s purpose, style, tone or attitude understanding academic vocabulary, inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words comprehending explicit and implicit information, comprehending concrete and abstract information classifying and categorising information following an oral sequencing of information comprehending variations in tone, speed and accent. While writing make sure that you are communicating the main points of the lecture in logically organised sentences using words and phrases appropriate to the context with correct grammar and spellings.

Sample question:

You will hear a short lecture. Write a summary for a fellow student who was not present at the lecture. You should write 50-70 words. You will have 10 minutes to finish this task. Your response will be judged on the quality of your writing and how well your response presents the key points presented in the lecture.

Sample audio transcript:

In the last 50 years there has been no apparent increase in personal happiness in Western nations, despite steadily growing economies. In both Europe and the USA surveys have found no greater level of happiness since the 1950s, which seems strange since wealthier people generally claim to be happier than poorer people.

In America, for example, more than a third of the richest group said they were ‘very happy’, while only half this number of the poorest made the same claim. Although it would be logical to expect that rising national wealth would lead to greater national happiness, this has not happened. Individually, more money does seem to increase happiness, but when everyone gets richer, no one appears to feel better.

Economists have recently paid more attention to studying happiness, instead of the more traditional GDP per person. One suggestion has been that people rapidly get used to improvements, and therefore devalue them. Central heating is a good example: whereas 30 years ago it was a luxury item, today it is standard in nearly every home.

Sample response:

The speaker argues that although Western economies have expanded since the 1950’s, there has been no parallel growth in happiness. Surveys indicate that rich people generally say they are happier than poor people, but it appears that although individuals may become happier society as a whole does not. One possible answer is that people soon become accustomed to improvements and so do not appreciate them.

You need to practice listening to lectures and podcasts to get familiar with various accents and range of vocabulary words with their meanings and synonyms. Try listening to different speakers and writing the summary of the text you heard. Intensive practice is the key to achieve the target score.

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