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PTE Listening has a number of question types. This article focuses on one of the more challenging question types, PTE Summarize Spoken Text and shows you how you can get a high PTE score for this question in your PTE exam. If you want to know more about Summarize WRITTEN Text, click here.

In addition to the PTE Summarize Spoken Text sample questions and answers you will see below, this article contains links to other resources you can use to master this question type and other PTE practice questions and activities. So, be sure to:

  1. Read this article and try the PTE SST sample questions yourself.
  2. Watch the PTE SST Super Method video lesson below.
  1. Sign up to E2 Test Prep for our FREE trial and practise doing the SST practice activities.
  2. Download the PTE Academic word list to help expand your vocabulary. 

PTE Summarize Spoken Text Basics

On PTE test day, you will find two or three Summarize Spoken Text questions in your PTE exam. This question type always follows the same format. You will see instructions telling you to listen to part of a lecture or interview and then write a summary of what you heard. The summary should be between 50 and 70 words. You will hear the audio once only and have 10 minutes to complete the task. It is important to take notes while you listen.

This is what it looks like:

A sample of a PTE Listening question – PTE Summarize Spoken Text

A key to getting a high score in PTE Listening for Summarize Spoken Text is taking useful notes to help you write a concise and organised summary. In this article, we will provide some tips and strategies for this task, as well as Summarize Spoken Text sample answers to give you an idea of what a good answer looks like.

Tip 1: Take Good Notes!

This task tests your listening skills: how much you have understood, and whether you can distinguish between the main points and the details that are not so important. To maximise your score, you need to take notes that include the topic and keywords for the main ideas and supporting details of the information or concepts mentioned in the audio. Remember that a summary does not include every single thing you hear – this would not give you a high score. A summary should focus on the key points plus a few related supporting details, leaving out all the rest. Taking effective notes will help you do this.

PTE Summarize Spoken Text Sample Question 1

Give this practice a go: take notes as you listen to the audio below. Then listen again and read the transcript to help you understand the talk better.

Click Here to See a Transcript of the Audio

Summarise Spoken Text Answer:

So, my mother’s a paediatrician, and when I was young, she’d tell the craziest stories that combined science with her overactive imagination. One of the stories she told was that if you eat a lot of salt, all of the blood rushes up your legs, through your body, and shoots out the top of your head, killing you instantly. She called it ‘high blood pressure’.

This was my first experience with science fiction, and I loved it. So when I started to write my own science fiction and fantasy, I was surprised that it was considered un-African. So naturally, I asked, what is African? And this is what I know so far: Africa is important. Africa is the future. It is, though. And Africa is a serious place where only serious things happen.

So, when I present my work somewhere, someone will always ask, ‘What’s so important about it? How does it deal with real African issues like war, poverty, devastation or AIDS?’ And it doesn’t. My work is about Nairobi pop bands that want to go to space or about seven-foot-tall robots that fall in love. It’s nothing incredibly important. It’s just fun, fierce and frivolous, as frivolous as bubble gum — ‘AfroBubbleGum’.

[Wanuri Kahiu: Fun, fierce and fantastical African art | TED Talk]

Here’s an example of the notes you may have taken while listening:

  • mother paediatrician – crazy stories – first experience with sci-fi / fantasy
  • author’s work = ‘unAfrican’ (‘Africa is serious.’)
  • ‘real issues: war, poverty, AIDS’; her work → fun, fierce, frivolous (AfroBubbleGum)
  • topic: African heritage; speaker – artist / writer

Notice how thoughtful punctuation can make your notes more effective: the use of inverted commas, for example, means that those are other people’s words and not the speaker’s ideas. This helps you write a summary that correctly reflects the speaker’s attitude. Look also at the order of the notes. Naturally, you will write things down as you hear them, and sometimes the overall topic is not clear until the end. So in our example, the topic (African heritage) only becomes clear towards the end, and this is what we put in the notes. As you will see from the PTE sample answer below, it is good to begin a summary by mentioning the general topic first.

PTE Sample Answer 1

The speaker was discussing her African heritage. Her mother was a paediatrician and told her crazy stories when she was young. The speaker said that her own science fiction was considered ‘un-African’, and that people told her that Africa was ‘serious’. She pointed out that people expected her work to be about poverty, war or AIDS, but she created something fun and frivolous like bubblegum — AfroBubbleGum. (66 words)

Tip 2: Summarize the Most Important Points (not EVERY Point)

One of the mistakes people make on the PTE Summarize Spoken Text task is trying to include everything they hear in their summary. When taking notes, you will probably write down a lot more information than you need for your summary. However, once you’ve finished taking notes and understood the gist of the talk, you can decide which of the details in your notes will be useful in the summary and which are unimportant, small details that can be discarded. Remember that PTE grades you on how well you pinpointed the most important ideas in the spoken test — and how well you can link those ideas in a short summary.

PTE Summarize Spoken Text Sample Question 2

Here’s another PTE practice for you. This time, listen and take notes. Then listen again and read the transcript. After that, write your own summary and compare it with the sample you will find below.

Click Here to See a Transcript of the Audio

Summarise Spoken Text Answer:

When you get to a party, do you head for people your own age? Have you ever grumbled about entitled millennials? Have you ever rejected a haircut or a relationship or an outing because it’s not age-appropriate? For adults, there’s no such thing. All these behaviours are ageist. We all do them, and we can’t challenge bias unless we’re aware of it. 

Nobody’s born ageist, but it starts at early childhood, around the same time attitudes towards race and gender start to form, because negative messages about late-life bombard us from the media and popular culture at every turn. Right? Wrinkles are ugly. Old people are pathetic. It’s sad to be old. Look at Hollywood. A survey of recent Best Picture nominations found that only 12 percent of speaking or named characters were age 60 and up, and many of them were portrayed as impaired. 

Older people can be the most ageist of all because we’ve had a lifetime to internalise these messages and we’ve never thought to challenge them. I had to acknowledge it and stop colluding. ‘Senior moment’ quips, for example: I stopped making them when it dawned on me that when I lost the car keys in high school, I didn’t call it a ‘junior moment’.

[Ashton Applewhite: Let’s end ageism | TED Talk]

Here’s an example of the notes you may have taken while listening:

  • discrimination / rejection based on age (eg haircut / relationships)   
  • we all do it – need to be aware of the bias
  • nobody’s born ageist / racist
  • media bombards us with negatives of ageing
  • movies: only 12% speaking/named characters 60+ 
  • ‘senior moment’ = ‘junior moment’?
  • topic: ageism

PTE Sample Answer 2

The speaker was discussing ageism. She mentioned rejecting a haircut or relationship because it is age-inappropriate. She mentioned that only 12% of speaking characters in movies are over the age of 60. The speaker quipped that a young person can have what’s called a ‘senior moment’, yet it’s not referred to as a ‘junior moment’. She suggested that no-one is born ageist, and awareness about this bias is key. (69 words)

Now compare this summary with the transcript and identify the details that are not included in the summary. Those details are not so crucial, and when your task has a word limit, you must focus on the main message as well as the most relevant supporting information, and leave out less important details.

Bonus PTE Summarize Spoken Text Tips 3 and 4

Here are two more short tips you will find helpful for your PTE test.

Tip 3: Organise Your Information Logically

Start with the general topic of the talk. Add relevant information that unpacks and explains the issue or concept presented by the speaker. Use reporting verbs to introduce what the presenter talked about. Here are some examples:

  • discussed
  • mentioned
  • explained
  • pointed out
  • stated
  • added
  • advocated
  • identified

Tip 3: Re-read Your Summary

Check your sentences for structural and grammatical errors as well as spelling mistakes, typos, omissions and punctuation. Make use of the full 10 minutes allowed for this task, and re-read every sentence carefully a few times.

Next Steps

We hope this helps you on your journey to becoming a PTE Summarize Spoken Text expert! Remember, E2 Test Prep has a method for this task. To learn the method, sign up to E2 Test Prep for free and do the practice questions. Also, when you sign up to one of our courses, our expert teachers can assess your writing and identify your areas in need of improvement. So sign up today!

What do you struggle with the most when it comes to Summarize Spoken Text? Let us know in the comments!

Author Bio:
E2 is the world’s leading test preparation provider. Our expert teachers are fully accredited English teachers, with TESOL, British Council or other relevant certification, and years of PTE teaching experience.

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