PTE Listening Format, Tips & Practice Tests For High Scores

PTE Listening Format, Tips, Practice Tests & More

Listening is a big challenge for many PTE test-takers.

In the actual test, you can cope with some factors that might distract you such as noise, mental pressure, and so on. Preparing carefully before taking the test is the key point to overcome all of them. 

In this post, PTE Magic will give you more info about the PTE listening part, and the specific format, and provide you with invaluable tips to help you perform your best.

So, let’s begin the journey toward mastering the PTE listening section. 


Overview of the PTE listening test section

PTE Listening Format, Tips, Practice Tests & More

Listening is the third section of the Pearson PTE exam.

The PTE listening section evaluates your ability to comprehend spoken English in diverse contexts, including both academic and usual situations.

It offers a total time limit of around 45-57 minutes, which varies according to the specific task combination you receive. There are about 15-20 questions you have to answer.

The system would provide some audio and short clips as materials for you to take the test. All of them play automatically so test-takers have only a chance to listen and note their answer. It is better to actively listen and keep concentration through the test to get the best result.

During the PTE test, you will be provided with noise-canceling headphones to ensure sound quality and clarity of the audio. In this way, you will not be distracted by external factors.

Remember that the PTE is a computer-based test. Therefore, you will interact with the test via a computer interface all the time.

The PTE test contains 8 types of questions including: 

  • Summarize Spoken Text
  • Multiple-choice, Multiple Answers
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Highlight Correct Summary
  • Multiple-choice, Single Answer
  • Select Missing Word
  • Highlight Incorrect Words
  • Write from Dictation

Details of every question type will be revealed in the next part.

PTE listening format

As listed in the above paragraph, we know that the PTE listening test contains 8 types of questions. Understanding the character of every type would help you approach your dream result. Let’s see the details.

Summarize Spoken Text

Summarize Spoken Text

In this PTE summarize spoken text task, you will listen to a short audio clip (usually a lecture or speech) and then summarize the main points in a written response. You need to capture the meaning of the content within a word limit.

Recording usually lasts for 60 to 90 seconds. While listening, you can quickly take note of the main idea of the record. Then, you have 10 minutes to write the summary, which contains between 50 and 70 words. 

Your content has to ensure grammar standards and be free of spelling mistakes. Your score would be assessed based on how accurate your summary can be.

People consider it as one of the most difficult parts of the PTE listening test. Therefore, you should practice carefully before taking the test.

>> Register a FREE account here to start practicing with our PTE mock tests today!

Multiple-choice, Multiple Answers

Multiple-choice, Multiple Answers

With this part, you also need to hear an audio which is about 40 to 90 seconds in length. There are some questions for you in this part. Each provides 5 to 7 options, two or three of which are correct. 

With every correct choice, you will receive one point. But if you choose a wrong answer, you can lose a point as well. The lowest score for this part is zero.

As with many other listening tests, the audio in this part will not replay. Therefore, you should listen carefully to not miss out on any important detail.


Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the Blanks

The PTE Listening fill in the blanks is the next type of question you encounter in the PTE listening test. 

A transcript will be provided in this part. There are two or three gaps in that passage. Your task is to fill up all to make up a full transcript.

You also need to hear an audio that lasts about 30 to 60 seconds. The missing words are in the passage, so listen carefully. 

You can achieve one point for every correct answer. You will not lose your score if write the wrong word. It’s better if you don’t leave any blank gaps.

Highlight Correct Summary

Highlight Correct Summary

This PTE highlight correct summary section is the next question you can see in the PTE listening test. In this part, you will listen to a recording, which lasts about 30 to 90 seconds, and choose the correct summary that best captures the main ideas.

There are various answers to this type. You have 10 seconds before the recording starts. Then, you need to identify the most appropriate summary from a list of options.

There are two or three of these questions in the test. It is not as difficult as Summarize the Spoken Test or Multiple-choice, Multiple Answers so don’t miss the score of it.

Multiple-choice, Single Answer

Multiple-choice, Single Answer

In this PTE listening multiple choice single answer part, you will listen to a brief audio clip, often in the form of a conversation or interview. There is a question and several answers beneath. Your task is to choose the most appropriate answer to a given question.

You have 5 seconds to prepare before the recording play. Its length is usually from 30 to 60 seconds. You need to select your answer once the audio has ended. 

You will get one point for each right option. This question can appear two or three times in the test.

Select Missing Word

Select Missing Word

The PTE select missing word question type involves listening to a short recording of a given topic. But it is not a full version, containing a missing word or phrase, which can be replaced by a “beep” sound. 

There is a list of possible answers to select. Your task is to choose the word or phrase that fits best in the gap to complete the sentence correctly.

The length of the audio is between 20 to 70 seconds. You have 7 seconds before it starts. There are 2-3 these questions in the test.

Highlight Incorrect Words

Highlight Incorrect Words

In this PTE highlight incorrect words part, you will listen to an audio recording while reading a transcript, which contains incorrect words. Your goal is to identify and highlight the words in the transcript that differ from what you hear in the audio. 

There are 10 seconds for test-takers to prepare before the recording has started. While listening, you need to choose your answer. You will get 1 point for a right-choosing word and lose one point for the false. 

You can encounter this question two or three times per test. People evaluate it quite difficult so be careful.

Write from Dictation

Write from Dictation

The last question is PTE Write from Dictation.

In this task, you’ll hear a sentence or a short passage spoken aloud. Your challenge is to type what you hear accurately. This question type evaluates your ability to transcribe spoken language.

The recording usually is 3-5 seconds in length. It is a single sentence only, therefore, listen attentively to write a correct answer. This type of question plays an important role in the listening test when it often appears 3 to 4 times per test.

5 Listening tips for the PTE test

Mastering the PTE listening section requires not just a familiarity with the format but also the development of specific skills. Here are invaluable tips to bolster your PTE listening skills:

Practice regularly

Nothing better than practicing hard to improve your score. Let’s spend time consistent practice, as it’s fundamental for enhancing your listening skills.

There are unlimited videos and audio resources from the internet for listening. You can start to hear what you like first, such as films, talk shows, and so on. In this way, you will find it more interesting to learn.

Then, you can upgrade the practice process by actively looking up new words and phrases in every video. Practice every day will help you become more acquainted with the language. It can be hard at first times but your competence will improve gradually.

Otherwise, there are many practice platforms designed closely with the actual test nowadays. One of them is our PTE Magic practice platform. It provides a wide range of questions and mock tests, which help test-takers be more familiar with the test. This is the best way to approach the actual test.

Focus on the details

While listening, try to concentrate on every detail. The key of the answer usually appears on a piece of the recording. You need to hear carefully to catch up on all the details to find out the answer.

It can be hard at first but you can improve it by practicing. However, if you can not hear clearly in the actual test, you can try predicting the answer based on what you have listened to. 

Listen actively to different accents

There is not only one accent in the PTE test. You can hear British, American, or even Australian accents. It is a huge shortage if you hear only one type of accent. You should listen to all mentioned accents to get a better score.

At first, you can use subtitles because there are some differences between the accents in pronunciation to realize. The more you listen, the more understanding you can.

Time management

Timing for listening tests is limited. Therefore, effective time management during the test is crucial. Work on pacing yourself to ensure that you allocate adequate time to each task.

In case you struggle with a question and don’t know what to choose, let’s leave it out. You can revise it later. It’s unwise when you get stuck on a single question, which means you can not get 100% focused on the other questions.

It always has a few seconds before an audio has started. Remember to take a look quickly at the text to identify what types of questions and the corresponding topics. You can prepare better for the question by this means.

Note-taking strategies

Taking notes is a key skill in listening tests. In some parts, it is impossible to choose the answer right when the audio is playing. Therefore, you need to note down some main ideas of the content you hear, to sum up later and find the answer. 


Overall, achieving success in the PTE listening section is entirely attainable through consistent practice and a methodical approach. 

Understanding the format, sharpening your listening skills, and applying the tips provided here can significantly boost your performance in this critical aspect of the PTE.

Remember that listening is not only an essential language skill for the PTE but also for real-life communication. With dedication and effort, you can get your dream score in the PTE listening section.

Last updated on 06/12/2023

I am a firm believer that the best teachers educate with their hearts not just their minds.

Moni | PTE MAGIC International Founder

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