TOEFL Listening Tips: Essential Vocabulary and Tips to Practice

Here are my top TOEFL Listening Tips to get you started with the Listening section! 
TOEFL Listening Tips
TOEFL Listening Tips: You should practice each one of these tips using the examples provided. 

TOEFL Listening Tips #1 Take notes

Okay. Obvious I know, but taking notes is an essential piece of this TOEFL listening tips article. Why?

Because few students actually think about how to take notes effectively. Taking notes is a crucial skill for you to develop, and something that will take practice just like any other skill! As you practice, you’ll develop patterns and codes which will really help you to keep track of those longer conversations and lectures!

Here are some pointers for taking notes … 

When in a conversation: 

Don’t try to copy the entire conversation! Develop a system of abbreviations, symbols and capital letters to symbolize frequent topics (for example, as the conversations are university related, I often write ‘P’ for ‘paper’, ‘C’ for class’ and ‘Pf’ for ‘professor’ ).

Try organizing your notes into a table. You could try drawing a line down the middle and when the narrator says ‘listen to a conversation between X and Y’ , you can write ‘X’ and ‘Y’ at the top of each side of the table. Then, as the audio progresses, you can keep each speaker’s main points organized.

Note-taking example:
S Pf
Fin P: doubts..
Q: where Ý res? Check lib sec. 220
😊! More time? Ok…by Fri
Sub. Class/office? Office b/f 5pm

(TOEFL listening tips: You might do something similar as long as it works for you!)

Can you understand my notes? Here I have written some full words, the first syllable of longer words (fin= final res= resources, lib=library, sec=section, b/f=before), used singular letters for common words (P=paper, Q=question) and some symbols (happy face= great! , upward arrow= more).

These are just some examples, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what abbreviations, symbols, or characters you use as long as you understand!

When listening to lectures: 

Try making a flow chart. You can start with a column for the main ideas, and draw arrows to supporting examples, key facts, or contrasting ideas.

Listen for connecting words, so you can follow the organization of the lecture! You don’t have to write down these words, but when you hear them, you know that important information will follow. These words will act as an auditory clue, so pay attention to what comes next.

Examples of what to listen for:

  • Adding information: In addition, for example, furthermore
  • Explaining a result: Therefore, as a result, consequently
  • Comparing & Contrasting: However, in contrast, on the other hand
  • Giving reasons: Because (of), due to, for this reason, since, thanks to
TOEFL Listening Tips
TOEFL Listening Tips: Listen for auditory clues to gauge the speakers statement.

TOEFL Listening Tips #2 Pay attention to Tone and Stress

As you’ve probably noticed from TOEFL Listening files, there are lots of intonation changes in English. Rarely will a speaker have a flat tone throughout an entire sentence, unless they’re bored that is!

Although the test may be a slightly dramatic at times with all the ups and downs, you’ll notice that native speakers actually do this, and it’s an important part of conveying meaning and attitude.

On the TOEFL Listening section, you’ll hear informal conversations between two people, and you’ll often be asked about the speaker’s attitude. To help you answer the question, pay close attention to the speaker’s tone of voice, and which words he/she chooses to emphasize.

Let’s consider an example:

Boy: “How do you like your new social sciences class?”

Girl: “ It’s really great. The teacher is always absent.”

Question: What is the girl’s attitude towards the class?

There are two possibilities here, depending on how the girl says the sentence. If she lengthens the word ‘really’ and has a flat tone throughout the second phrase, she is probably showing sarcasm, and therefore doesn’t like the class.

On the other hand, if she pronounces ‘really great’ and ‘always’ with a high tone, she is showing excitement and she must like the class as the teacher is never there (less work for her!).

Common intonation patterns to listen for:

–Confusion/Uncertainty: multiple pauses/slow speech/fillers ‘Um..well..I guess I could”

–Excitement: high tone ‘That’s great!

–Surprise: rising tone ‘Are you serious?

–Consistent flat tone: boredom/indifference “That’s great

TOEFL Listening Tips #3: Expand your vocabulary

Because the listening involves “real-life” conversations, you can expect lots of phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions, and university-related vocabulary. In order to understand the context of the conversations, you should know words like:

Dean= the head of a college or university faculty or department.

Registrar= an official in a college or university who is responsible for keeping student records.

Scholarships= a grant made to support a student’s education, usually given based on academic or other achievement.

Prerequisite= a course that is required to be completed before entering another course.

Student Loan= a sum of money borrowed from the bank to be used for university tuition and payed back once a student graduates.

Tuition= the amount of money paid for instruction at a college or university.

Transcript= an official record of a student’s grades and courses taken.

Deadline/Due Date=The day by which something should be completed or submitted.

In the conversations and lectures, you will often hear phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions, so you should start learning and practicing them early on.

Some common ones just to get you started may be:

Hand in =submit (an assignment)

Check out =take a book out from the library

Take up (sthng) with (so)= discuss an important issue in detail

Look over= review in detail

Find out= discover

….but there are so many more!  Check out verb lists for TOEFL Phrasal Verbs or on to practice.

Do you want to know what adequate TOEFL preparation time you need? Check out TOEFL Preparation Online.

Follow us on E2 TOEFL for more TOEFL Listening Tip videos!

Watch amazing LIVE CLASSES, like this video from the TOEFL listening Lecture Series: 

Want more TOEFL Listening Tips? Head over to: Free TOEFL Resources & How to Prepare for TOEFL.

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

Written by Meaghan.  

Free TOEFL Resources & How To Prepare for the TOEFL

In this E2Language article we’ve not only shared some of our favourite free TOEFL resources, but we also outline some of Jamal’s top tips for preparing for your exam.  

free TOEFL resources
Preparing for your TOEFL isn’t as daunting as it seems. 

With any English proficiency exam it’s hard to know where to start. Sure, having your hands on the right free TOEFL material is critical but students also need to know what to focus on.

Every section (and even specific tasks) test different skills so it’s important to prepare yourself for each one. Throughout this article I will link helpful webinars, lesson videos, and articles that will provide you with some of the methods and strategies needed for effectively tackling the different parts of the TOEFL.


For this task it’s important you practice narrating or ‘describing’ different stories and events. You should try thinking about something personal, possibly the plot of the book you just read or a funny memory, retell these stories to yourself or family members.

For more help on this task and a sample response from E2 TOEFL


We suggest you begin researching a wide range of topics; choosing one daily. Focus on articles which inspire different opinions. Then decide where you ‘stand’ on the topic. Practice explaining your opinion in 1 minute spoken responses, giving detailed reasons to support your viewpoint.

Want to see what that looks like?

TOEFL Integrated Speaking & Writing

A major skill you’ll need to develop for both these tasks is synthesising information from two separate sources to give both a written or spoken summary.

You should try finding an article and lecture on the same topic. Some examples might include: culture, the environment or history. Then you can discuss (through voice or word) the main points of the two pieces.

Similar to preparation for other sections of the test:

  1. Chose a Topic
  2. Speaking: 1 Minute (summarize)
  3. Writing: Write a summary focusing on the points that were similar or different.

Some more on Integrated Speaking:

TOEFL Reading (Inference) Preparation

TOEFL Reading tests for many skills. One of which is INFERENCE. Students must be able to make inferences about what an author means by something.

As you read through articles highlight or note any words or phrases that are new to you. Try to guess from context what the author means by their choice of words. Then look it up! This will help you improve both your vocabulary and get you comfortable with making inferences.

Want more TOEFL Reading Tips:

TOEFL Reading Section: Expert TOEFL Reading Preparation Tips

And whilst you’re there, check out another TOEFL reading tips article.

We have articles on the E2Language Blog, webinars on the E2 TOEFL YouTube Channel, and more! Make sure to browse all your favourite E2 archives. Make use of the free TOEFL resources we provide.

Did you know? We even offer FREE online TOEFL Writing classes. Sign up for the TOEFL Writing Classes today! Now you plenty of free TOEFL resources to work off!

Join us in the next LIVE Class!


Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!


Written by Olivia. 









PTE Retell Lecture: Speaking Secrets for Success

Some people are confident and relaxed with PTE Retell Lecture. In this blog we’re going to look at their secrets and see how you can maximise your score in this task.

Firstly, you can break PTE retell lecture down into three parts; listening, note-taking and retelling. Evaluate your ability in each.

PTE retell lecture


If you lack confidence or are weak at listening, you need to build your vocabulary and build your listening skills. Here’s how.

1. Use the collocation list on the E2language website. It’s in the reading section. This list will show you words that often go together. You just need to read across the lines to see the collocations. For example:

  • abstract concept
  • academic achievement
  • in academic circles

You’re not going to remember by reading once. So read sections and re-read. Spend just three minutes two or three times a day.

2. The collocation list is based on the Academic Word List. You already know the first 3000 words of English. This list of 570 words is the next group you need to know. If you know the first 3000 and this group of 570, that’s enough language to help you manage 95% of most written and spoken texts in English.

You can work on the list here: The Academic Word List. Go through the list systematically looking at all the words you don’t know – click for the dictionary meaning. There are also games, practice activities and quizzes to help you.

3. Read English language newspapers and read Science Daily. Listen to news audio on BBC news.

4. When you are reading / listening, write down new words (and their meanings, collocations and other forms). Then spend a few minutes two or three times a day reviewing the lists. Cover the meanings – see if you can remember. Cover the words and then write them – can you spell them correctly?

5. Another thing you should do is listen to TED talks. There are thousands of talks on a range of topics. One of the great things about TED talks is the little button under the video labelled ‘Transcript.’ If you click this, you will be able to see the exact text, so if you missed a word or a phrase while you were listening, you can check it.

Find TED talks on unfamiliar topics so that you can learn new vocabulary. Listen to just the first 60 – 90 seconds and use them for PTE Retell Lecture. Listen, take notes and then retell (record yourself on your phone). Then you can go back and read the text to evaluate your note taking. You can also listen to the speaker again and compare their pronunciation, stress and intonation with yours.


Note-taking involves writing keywords as you listen. A good way to think of it is in terms of nouns and the W words – who, why, when, where, what?  There are no perfect words to write down. Write down keywords that will help you to remember and retell.

Here’s a useful trick – if you write numbers, also write a word to say what the number represents.

If you write this, you won’t remember. This will help you to remember.



92,000 barrels of oil

470 billion $

2006 new laws

Many candidates are not sure how much detail they need. Clearly you need the main idea, but according to Pearson the task is testing your ability to repeat, inform and explain as well as your ability to support information with details and examples. So numbers and dates can also be relevant.

PTE retell lecture


Let’s start by thinking about the marking criteria. You can get up to 5-points each for pronunciation, fluency and content.


Cover key points, show relationships between things and include implications and conclusions. Include some details and examples.


Vowel and consonant sounds need to be clear.  Deletions need to be used appropriately (eg. ‘and’ often becomes ‘n’ – boys ‘n’ girls). Word and sentence stress should be correct.


Rhythm should be smooth and phrasing needs to be appropriate (eg. where you pause between groups of words). There should be no hesitations or repetitions.

For pronunciation and fluency help watch the E2language Core Skills Pronunciation videos.

One point to note is that your fluency drops as soon as you start making complex decisions, so you need to keep it simple. The E2language template helps you do exactly that.


The speaker was discussing TOPIC

He/She mentioned KEYWORD 1

He/She described KEYWORD 2

He/She talked about KEYWORD 3

He/She discussed KEYWORD 4

He/She suggested that KEYWORD 5

Turn it into a reading exercise. Match sentence one to your first note; sentence two to your second note and so on. That way you don’t need to make many decisions. Once you’ve learnt the template, you can write down key letters for the verbs (see below) and put your notes next to those letters – then read.


  • Write 6 or 7 short, simple notes.
  • When retelling don’t add anything to most notes. Put a full stop. Keep them short.
  • Choose just two notes to add a bit.

This will be right for between 30 and 40 seconds.

In the sound file below you will see that the speaker has a lot of information and finishes just in time. Some information could have been dropped if there was danger of going over 40 seconds.

Retell Notes:

PTE retell lecture

Sound Files:

Listen to the RETELL LECTURE:


If there is a listening problem and you missed some of the talk, all you can do is focus on what you did understand. Maximise your marks for what you did catch.  Sure you will lose marks for ‘content,’ but you can still get marks for pronunciation and fluency. Keep talking generally on the topic – even if it isn’t perfect.


Now you know all of the secrets of those candidates who are quite relaxed about the task. They can relax because they know they have maximised their chances of doing well. You can do that too. Develop your vocabulary and listening skills. Practise note-taking. Do lots of specific practice for PTE Retell Lecture. Work on your PTE fluency.

There are two practice examples below and you’ll find thousands more at


  1. Listen: If you don’t understand everything, just catch what you can.
  2. Take notes: nouns – W-words.
  3. Retell: Retell what you understood – using the template. Maximise your marks for fluency and pronunciation. Record yourself on your phone and evaluate your performance against the three criteria listed at the start of this blog.
Practice 1 – PTE Retell Lecture:
Practice 2 – PTE Retell Lecture:

Visit this article on 4 Mistakes Everyone Makes on PTE Speaking Tasks.

Check out this video on PTE Retell Lecture! For more videos, visit E2 PTE for Live Classes and Mini Mock Tests. 

Do you have any PTE speaking tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.

Be sure to follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!


Written by Melinda. 

OET for Nurses: Why Taking OET is Often the Right Choice

At the beginning of the month, something very exciting happened for many of our E2Language students: the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) began formally accepting scores for OET for nurses.

Why is this so exciting? Well, many of our students hoping to move to the UK happen to be nurses, and Cambridge specifically built OET for nurses (and other medical professionals).

This means that our UK-bound nurses now have a more accessible test to practice for, and one that takes into account their nursing skills and experience in addition to their English skills.

OET for nurses

Let’s break down the three top reasons why OET is often the right choice for nurses:

1. OET for Nurses: It’s tailored to your profession

If you’re a nurse, you are probably comfortable working in a fast-paced environment, dealing with difficult patients, making decisions under pressure, and understanding complex information quickly. These skills make you perfectly suited to the various OET sections, as each one mirrors real-life scenarios that nurses face in the workplace.

For example, the OET speaking section is a role-play exercise in which you must interact with a “patient” who has come in with a medical complaint. In the OET writing section, you must write a discharge letter using relevant information about a patient under your (hypothetical!) care.

The benefit of preparing for tasks like these is that nurses get a chance to practice important professional skills that they will need to showcase in a Western context (e.g. UK hospitals). It’s crucial to remember that moving to another country usually comes with massive cultural shifts on top of the language differences.

Preparing for the OET allows nurses the chance to practice highly valuable professional skills that may look slightly different in a Western context, like bedside manner expectations and appropriate follow-up questioning procedure.

I’ll give you an example. Many of our students have worked as nurses for many years, but still find it odd when they begin working in a hospital in the UK or Australia and find that they are given much more decision-making responsibility than they are used to. Furthermore, North-American hospitals in particular are very “patient-centric”, which means that patients often ask more questions or require more in-depth explanations than a foreign-trained nurse may be used to.

Bottom Line: OET for nurses hoping to immediately find work in countries like the UK is a great way to “kill two birds with one stone”. In addition to learning the appropriate English concepts to pass the test, nurses get to improve skills that will serve them well in their next workplace, and hopefully will come out of the OET experience with professional growth on top of their language success!

OET for nurses

2. OET for Nurses: The Vocabulary Will Be Familiar to You

Along the same lines as the point above, the OET is extra applicable to medical professionals because it employs common medical vocabulary that you’ll be very comfortable with if you are a nurse. While the PTE, IELTS and TOEFL require that you learn complex English vocabulary that you will probably never use in real life (how many nurses need to write about why they think “education is a critical element to prosperity” in their workplace?)

In general, the nurses we prepare for OET feel a lot more comfortable and confident when they open up a practice exercise and see words like “aetiology” and “rheumatic fever” and “sterilization” (for the record, these words would absolutely terrify me!).

Bottom line: If you’re a pro with medical vocabulary, the OET will probably intimidate you a lot less than some of the other English tests out there!

Fill out the form below to receive a list of simplified medical vocabulary you can use on the OET!

3. OET for Nurses: It’s Suited to “Pencil and Paper” and “Face-to Face” People

We live in exciting times when it comes to technology, and it is pretty cool that lots of exams have become computer-based and offer all kinds of fancy automated grading and voice recognition! However, some people will just always feel more comfortable picking up a pencil and writing something out by hand.

In many hospital environments, medical professionals still use paper-based charts and other materials every day, and nurses talk to real patients in their workplace environments, not computers. Many nurses have come to us and complained about how strange and uncomfortable it felt to talk at a computer in exams like the PTE, and how they felt they would have done much better interacting with a human being.

Because the OET is paper-based and uses human examiners to test speaking, E2Language students coming from nursing backgrounds often consider it the ideal test. The “traditional” format sets them at ease, and this (combined with the familiar vocabulary and content) boosts their confidence quite a bit. One thing we definitely know from experience is that a little confidence goes a long way.

By the way, I should probably mention here that although E2Language is an online OET preparation school, our practice materials can easily be done on paper and we encourage students watching our live classes to take real notes! Cambridge OET even named us as an official Cambridge OET preparation provider last year!

One last thing to note is that although IELTS also offers paper-based, face-face testing, it’s not tailored to nurses in the same way that OET is. If you want the best of both worlds in terms of professional relevance and more traditional test methods, OET wins out.

Bottom Line: If you’re a nurse and you’re intimidated by English proficiency tests like TOEFL, or undecided over PTE or OET, the OET is probably a great option for you.

For OET online preparation be sure to watch E2 OET YouTube channel like this one below! 

Already Convinced?

There you have it. Those are the reasons why we always recommend OET for nurses who want to work in Western countries, now including the UK! So, if you’re a nurse moving overseas to an English-dominated country, open up your old textbooks, brush up on your impressive medical vocabulary, and book your OET test date with confidence!

Follow our social media for more tips on how to pass OET!

Start your OET course today!

Written by Kaia.

IELTS Difficulty: How Hard is IELTS? Know What to Expect

So, how hard is the IELTS? Many test takers struggle with similar issues when it comes to the IELTS exam. ‘IELTS difficulty’ is no rare occurrence. Today we’ll examine the areas of IELTS difficulties our students face.

We’re going to address the most challenging IELTS test parts.  We’ll discuss the common IELTS challenges and key E2Language tips and strategies to avoid these problems.

IELTS difficulty
Test preparation is more rewarding if you’ve got a good study plan in place!

Speaking Part 2

IELTS Difficulty: Don’t repeat yourself! 

In this section you’re given a task card. You will then have to speak for 2 minutes. Unknowingly repeating the same story is a common speaking mistake in the test.

The real problem is most people finish their actual “story” in about 40 seconds and then just repeat it again and again.

The key is to use the PPF (Past, Present, Future) Method to tackle IELTS Speaking. This way you will be able to tell three different stories based on the task card.

Learn everything you need to know about the PPF Method with Jay:

You see! Not only will it get you to 2 minutes but it’ll also make you use a range of verbs.

Yes, mistakes are plenty on the IELTS Speaking. Avoid them today! The Most Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes!

Which IELTS test should you choose? Let’s help you decide: IELTS Academic vs IELTS General

Writing Task 2

IELTS Difficulty: Writing to the word count!

Do NOT fall short of the required word count!

Around 20% of candidates don’t write 250 words or more. You will lose a whole band score or more for the criterion called task response. Don’t underestimate this, in fact, listen to what Jay has to say in this recent video on IELTS Writing Task 2.

TIP: Jay says that your word count ‘may possibly be the single most important tip for IELTS Writing.’

Find these #7 IELTS Study Tips to get you in the study mindset.

General Writing Task 1

IELTS Difficulty: Don’t mix your paragraphs!

Each paragraph should cover one dot point on the task card.

In other words, keep it organised. Make sure to watch the webinars we have up on the E2 IELTS YouTube Channel which cover the best ways to structure paragraphs.

Academic Writing Task 1

IELTS Difficulty: Comparing relevant data.

Choose two aspects of the graph and compare them.

For example, compare men and women or Thailand’s imports vs Cambodia’s imports (or something similar). Be specific and make sure you include percentages, numbers or other data.


IELTS Difficulty: Misunderstanding the question types!

Learn the question types.

Some of these tasks are honestly conceptually hard to understand. Two really tricky task types are: True / False / Not Given and Yes / No / Not Given.

Others like ‘Match Sentence Endings’ are just confusing!

Here’s a helpful lesson video on Yes / No / Not Given:

Learn ALL of the in’s and out’s for your IELTS test preparation. 


IELTS Difficulty: Misunderstanding the question types!

Like reading, you must know what the question types are because you do not have time to understand them as you go.

The best advice when it comes to both IELTS Reading and Listening is: set enough time aside to PRACTICE.

IELTS difficulty can be diluted with the right amount of preparation and understanding. Your desired score is very much possible. Be willing to learn the right methods, and put those strategies to practice.

Register for free IELTS Live Classes!

Don’t let IELTS difficulty discourage you. Instead, kick-start your IELTS preparation by registering for one of the E2 Free Live Classes.
Know what to expect on test day by reading: IELTS Listening Tips: How to Boost Your Score!

Check out Jay vs IELTS: Round 2 | Predicting My IELTS Score to hear about what his experiences were like on test day.


Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

Written by Olivia. 

PTE Highlight Correct Summary: Step-by-Step Practice

PTE Highlight Correct Summary

The PTE Highlight Correct Summary is a listening activity that involves focus. You have to listen and choose the best summary.

Essential background information:

  • You will get 2 – 3 PTE Highlight Correct Summary tasks.
  • Recordings are 30 – 90 seconds long.
  • Answer options can be up to 60 words long.
  • The mark contributes to both listening and reading scores.

You are being tested for:

  • listening comprehension
  • ability to analyse and combine information
  • ability to identify the most accurate summary 

Take a few notes, but keep your focus by listening

PTE Highlight Correct Summary


Just before the task begins:

  • You will see an audio status box which will count down from 10 seconds, then the status will change to ‘playing’ and the recording will begin.
  • Before the listening begins, scan your eyes down the answers – for just 3 seconds – very quickly. Just notice a few words. That will give you an idea what the text is about.
  • You can adjust your volume by moving the slider during the recording if you need to.
  • Take a breath. Be calm and focused.

 While you are listening:

  • Focus. Listen.
  • Take a few notes, but keep your focus on the listening.
  • DO NOT read the answer options while you listen. If you read, you will not be able to focus on the listening.

After listening:

  • Read the paragraphs carefully.
  • Select the best
    • Start by eliminating the impossible or unlikely answers.
    • Then survey the remaining answers.
    • Choose the best answer based on your notes and understanding.
    • Once you’ve made your decision, click ‘next.’

TIPS for PTE Highlight Correct Summary:

  1. The test moves very quickly and you need to be able to maintain your focus. This is a mental skill and you should be practising it leading up to the test. You might find it useful to put the radio or television on nearby when you are practising at home. This will help you to get used to noise and distractions and to train yourself to maintain focus.
  2. The answer options may contain some of the words from the listening. However, sometimes it is a trick! Beware. Listen, understand and use your best judgement.
  3. Remember that you need to manage your own time in the listening test. If you manage it, you will be able to finish all of the questions. So work through the answer options methodically. Read them carefully. Make your best choice – then choose ‘next.’

General Listening Practice

The best way to get good at this task is to do lots of listening practice. Yes, you are probably busy working and you have a family and you have limited time.

So you need to ask yourself, how much do you really want this? It is unlikely that you are doing the PTE purely for fun! You are doing it as a stepping stone towards another goal which might be international study, immigration, or maybe professional registration.

You know that the way to get good at something is to practise it. If you were planning to run a marathon, you wouldn’t just dream about it, you’d be at the gym working on muscle groups and you’d be hitting the pavement and running each day. You’d be pushing yourself. You’d be monitoring your performance.

The beauty of working hard to achieve your target PTE results is that it isn’t only the ticket to your next goal, it is also an excellent way to improve your language skills and your ability to communicate effectively in English. So all the hard work will pay off in the PTE result you need and in easier, more effective communication in English.

So you are probably nodding, thinking “yea, yea. I know that. But how? How can I practise?”

You can improve your PTE Highlight Correct Summary results specifically by doing test question practice and you can improve it generally by listening to:

With the TED talks listen for 30 – 90 seconds, then turn the recording off and write down the main idea. Use the transcript button below the video to read the talk after you have listened. Analyse your performance.

PTE Highlight Correct Summary

Was your summary a good one? Yes? Fantastic! Well done! What is not so good? Why? What happened? Analyse why you made a mistake. Was it a vocabulary problem? Was it speed? Pronunciation? Keep working on it.

PTE Highlight Correct Summary – Practice One

Before you start:

  • Make sure that you are ready.
  • Scan your eyes down the text for 3 seconds.
  • Focus

You will hear a recording. Choose the paragraph that best relates to the recording.

  • The speaker believes that drug and alcohol laws need to be tighter as around 25 percent of accidents are related to these two causes. This situation prevails despite religions warning us of the dangers.
  • The speaker’s purpose is to tell us that she was involved in an accident. In her case it was the fault of the driver in front who stopped on the highway for no apparent reason. He was going 65 kilometres per hour and just stopped.
  • The speaker is focusing on safety and what we need to do to reduce the death rate in people aged 16 to 19.
  • The speaker’s purpose is to tell us about the seriousness and the randomness of accidents and it is likely she is going to suggest a solution.

Click to show/hide answer

The speaker’s purpose is to tell us about the seriousness and the randomness of accidents and it is likely she is going to suggest a solution.

PTE Highlight Correct Summary

PTE Highlight Correct Summary – Practice Two

Before you start:

  • Make sure that you are ready.
  • Scan your eyes down the text for 3 seconds.
  • Focus

You will hear a recording. Choose the paragraph that best relates to the recording.

Researchers are studying screen games. Currently they are looking at how video games may be useful in helping visually impaired people to see better.

  • Although we all know that too much screen time is harmful to your eyes, it is difficult to prove this. Laboratory experiments are looking at this issue now.
  • Experiments are showing some interesting results. It seems that if you play screen games for between 5 and 15 hours per week, your eyesight can be improved.
  • There are two hallmarks of good eyesight. Firstly those with good vision can read small print more easily than others. Secondly they can distinguish between different shades of grey better than the rest of us.

Click to show/hide answer

Researchers are studying screen games. Currently they are looking at how video games may be useful in helping visually impaired people to see better.

PTE Highlight Correct Summary – Practice Three

Before you start:

  • Make sure that you are ready.
  • Scan your eyes down the text for 3 seconds.
  • Focus

You will hear a recording. Choose the paragraph that best relates to the recording.

  • Due to the Rwandan genocide normal equipment can be very expensive in some parts of Rwanda. For example the cost of shipping a bulldozer to remote regions is prohibitive.
  • An engineer named Nizeye had been working in Rwanda for many years. He was brilliant and liked to help the local people because they were very poor and had suffered during the war.
  • Nizeye incorporated the local culture into his building projects. He also provided work opportunities for locals. Thus the building process could support the whole community.
  • In Rwanda it is legally required that building projects involve mainly local workers. This helps to restore job opportunities.

Click to show/hide answer

Nizeye incorporated the local culture into his building projects. He also provided work opportunities for locals. Thus the building process could support the whole community.

Visit our website at to see what PTE test preparation packages we offer!

Learn how to adopt the PTE specific-format in this article: PTE Writing Tips: How To Improve Your Essay Score.

Check out the PTE Listening: Highlight Correct Summary video from our E2 PTE Academic YouTube Channel.

Find an excellent list of PTE review materials and resources from E2Language! 

Do you have any PTE Highlight Correct Summary tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by Melinda.

Jay vs IELTS: Round Two | Predicting my IELTS score!

It’s Jay vs IELTS: head-to-head in the ring for round two. Want to know how to get a high IELTS score? Learn all about Jay’s experience taking the IELTS exam for a second time. 

Watch this video: ‘Jay talks about taking the IELTS exam’

Jay reflects on taking the IELTS for a second time…

So, I took the IELTS again on the weekend. Why? Because I want to get straight 9s.

Hmmm, so I took the IELTS Academic about eight months ago and my IELTS score was:

  • Reading 9
  • Speaking 9
  • Listening 8.5 (must have missed a question or two) and…
  • Writing 6.5. WHAT! Yes, you heard me, 6.5.

I didn’t believe it so I sent it back to IELTS for a rescore. I then received a 7.5. Hmmm, they increased my score by one whole band, which is quite significant. To this day, I’m convinced that this was not a true reflection of my writing abilities. I’m a native English speaker and English teacher with a masters degree in applied linguistics! I am not an IELTS 6.5 in writing, nor a 7.5; I would like to think that someone like me could at least get an 8!

So, I took the IELTS again on the weekend. Why? Because I want to get straight 9s. I want to see if that is actually possible. From speaking to thousands of IELTS candidates I have never heard of someone scoring straight 9s and it should be possible, even in writing. Right?

What I learned the second time around

Writing Task 1

Writing Task 1 this time was seriously tricky! Instead of one line graph, this time the IELTS gave us three line graphs, each with two trends. Imagine seeing three of these on the paper in front of you:

IELTS score

Imagine the look on everyone’s faces when they saw not one, not two but three of these line graphs staring back at them!

Whoa! I made sure that I looked very carefully at the graphs. I carefully constructed my piece of writing and finished in 22 minutes. Overall, I thought it was a solid piece of writing but I could have structured it a little more elegantly. I reckon I would have lost .5 for coherence and cohesion.

My guess: IELTS score 8.5

Writing Task 2

Having spent 22 minutes on Writing Task 1, I had 38 minutes left for my essay. The question prompt was relatively straightforward. (Knowing the 7 question types really paid off.) It was a ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree’ prompt that asked:

Humans have invented many different things (including the wheel). Some people think that the internet is the most important invention.

 To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Okay, not bad. I completely disagreed with the question prompt and argued that while all inventions seem important at the time they are inevitably overtaken by the next big invention; so the internet is only temporarily important. I thought I wrote it extremely well. (Hopefully it was not too nuanced!)

The big take home message from this task though is that writing more than 250 words is hard work. And here’s the biggest trick of them all: You MUST use a second piece of paper. You see, the IELTS give you one piece of paper to write your essay on. You can use both sides but for me this allows me to write only 170 words. In my first test I thought I had written 250 words because I had filled both pages and hence the reason I scored 7.5.

IELTS score

If your handwriting is as big as mine then you will need two answer sheets to write your 250 word essay. Unfortunately the IELTS only give you one. Is it a trick?

I wasn’t so silly this time. I counted every word of every sentence of every paragraph. In the end I wrote more than 270 words. But make no mistake: COUNT YOUR WORDS. If you do not write more than 250 words then you will lose a point or more!

My guess: IELTS score 9


When I opened the test booklet for reading I was shocked by the first passage. It was about an Island in Greece that needed a desalination plant. It was really tough reading. I felt sorry for the non-native English speakers (I think I was the only native English speaker in the crowd!) I can’t believe how difficult some of those passages are…

I got a range of different question types including both TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN and YES/NO/NOT GIVEN. Overall, I thought I answered every question correctly, though, there were two questions that took me a long time to get right.

My guess: IELTS score 9


Listening might be my nemesis! I’m a native speaker and I understood EVERYTHING that was played in the audio, but coordinating the question types, writing the answers and listening to the audio was extremely tough! IELTS Listening is really a test of understanding the IELTS test questions, and less about listening; at least, that’s how I feel about it. Anyway, I missed one question right at the start in the easiest section, and perhaps one more later on.

My guess: IELTS score 8.5/9


The first time I took the IELTS I was completely unprepared for the psychological experience of the speaking test. It was SCARY! I didn’t need a score and was only taking the test for experience but I still found the speaking test intimidating. I was completely fine for Part 1 and Part 3, but Part 2 — the two minute monologue — completely baffled me. In the one minute preparation time I remember staring at the task card thinking WHAT?!

This time I employed E2’s PPF method, which was EXCELLENT. I relaxed, thought of three stories and BANG, I spoke easily for two minutes without going round and round.

My topic was not particularly easy. It said something like:

Talk about an advertisement you recently saw. You should say:

  • What it was advertising
  • Where you saw the advertisement
  • What it looked like

 And say whether or not it was effective.

 I wrote on my piece of paper:




Easy. Although, I must say that the minute preparation time FLIES. You barely have time to think let alone write anything down. I thought of three stories and wrote three words down and then the examiner politely said “Okay, now you can start.”

The PPF method worked beautifully: I told a past story about seeing an advertisement for a bicycle in a magazine when I was a kid. I then talked about the present, about how I have been looking at car advertisements online. Finally, I said one sentence about wanting to see advertisements for robots in the future, before the examiner stopped me.

We then had a very complex discussion about advertising and the psychological effects it has on people. The questions kept coming and I gave deep, philosophical answers being conscious of my grammar and vocabulary.

My guess: IELTS score 9

Well, now I have to wait to see what the IELTS gives me. I’m hoping for straight 9s, but you never know with the IELTS! I’ll let you know, so stay tuned 🙂

Read about Jay’s first IELTS score The Impossible IELTS: My IELTS Writing Test Disaster after initially receiving a 6.5 in the Writing test.  

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Written by Jay. 

PTE Written Discourse: Everything Explained | Preparation Checklist and Sample Answer!

PTE Written Discourse training gets packaged and re-packaged all the time. It requires a lot of written and comprehension skills and it’s no wonder so many students trip-up on PTE Writing.

Let’s reveal why and present a useful test-preparation checklist and build a sample answer for PTE Written Discourse.  

What is PTE Written Discourse?

A common question that students ask is: “Why is my PTE Written Discourse mark so low?” Then following this, “What is Written Discourse?!

If you check the meaning of ‘discourse,’ it means a formal conversation where one expresses one’s ideas in a logical flow and progression.

In the PTE score guide, in regard to PTE Written Discourse they say:

‘Written discourse skills are represented in the structure of a written text: entailing its internal coherence, logical development and the range of linguistic resources used to express meaning precisely. Scores for enabling skills are not awarded when responses are inappropriate for the items in either content or form.’

Which question types does PTE Written Discourse relate to?

So, what on earth does all that mean for you in the test and which questions does it affect?

Basically, it’s referring to a few things: firstly, the meaning and logical sequence of your content, also, your sentence, paragraph overall essay or summary structures, in addition to usage of linking words, correct punctuation and accuracy in how your express your ideas.

Importantly, as noted above, if you go off topic in your essay or do not get all the main points in your summary, and/or do not follow the requirements of the word count you, will miss out on marks in the PTE Written Discourse enabling skills.

Therefore, your PTE Written Discourse score will be determined by your essay and summary content, for both the written text and spoken text summary questions in terms of content and structure quality as above.

How can I improve my PTE Written Discourse score in my essay?

PTE Written Discourse
Read the PTE written discourse advice and learn how the response is constructed below!
#1 Check that you understand the topic 100% and follow the instructions

Take time to deeply understand the essay topic: check what is the general/ broader topic, and then in your own words interpret the specific topic and question being asked.

So if you had the essay question:‘ In the past 100 years there have been many inventions, such as antibiotics, airplanes and computers. Which do you think is the most important invention and why?’

The broader topic is about great inventions in the modern era, and the question or specific topic is about which you believe to be the most significant one; then the instruction is to choose one and explain why you believe that to be the case.

#2 Refine your essay and paragraph structure and academic tone

Follow a structure, for your whole essay, including an introduction, 2 main body paragraphs and a conclusion, as well as a structure for each paragraph. Also, make sure that you use appropriate formal tone, academic words, as well as linking words.

For example, for the above topic you could introduce your first main body paragraph as such: Firstly, computers have had an enormous positive impact on communication in the workplace.

This is a simple but clear topic sentence to introduce the main idea of the whole paragraph: the linking word, Firstly, is used to indicate it’s the start of your main argument and academic words and collocations such as, have an enormous positive impact on… and workplace are effective, natural-sounding word choices to make your initial point in a powerful way.

Compare the above to: Computers are very good to use at work for your job. While this second version is correct, it sounds much less formal/academic and has less impact. However, at the same, be sure not to go to the other extreme, meaning, you don’t have to go crazy with difficult vocabulary that you aren’t at all familiar with!

This can lead to lack of clarity and sounds ‘flowery’ (overly wordy) and unnatural, which is not what you are aiming for.

For example, don’t write: Computerised systems in venues of employment have prolifically infiltrated the world of work to exponentially enhance the work experience and add significant value to our workplace practices!

This sounds ridiculous as it’s so convoluted and the reader is left thinking: what exactly does that mean and what is wrong with the person who wrote it as it sounds so strange!

For PTE preparation materials you can’t live without, have a read and follow the links on the article: PTE Review Materials You Can’t Miss!

#3 Improve your sentence structure and punctuation skills

As well as addressing essay and paragraph structure, it is important use a range of sentence structures, such as compound (sentences which contain 2 independent clauses) and complex sentences (ones which contain an independent clause and a dependent clause).

Also, it’s important to check you know English punctuation rules, including comma usage, colons, semi-colons and apostrophes.

For example, following on from our topic sentence above, we could use a complex sentence structure with appropriate punctuation to explain our topic sentence and give evidence:

Firstly, computers have had an enormous positive impact on communication in the workplace. In general, they have increased the speed and ease of communication at work, which consequently improves efficiency and thus leads to business growth.

For some quick written discourse advice, watch this video with Kaia from E2 PTE: Increase Your Written Discourse Score!

#4 Finally, we need to have a logical flow in ideas and development in structure.

To illustrate, we could conclude our paragraph by adding an example to support our main idea and a concluding sentence for our paragraph relating back to the topic sentence and overall essay topic.

So our complete paragraph will look like this:

Click Here to See our PTE Written Discourse Sample Answer!

PTE Written Discourse Answer

Firstly, computers have had an enormous positive impact on communication in the workplace. In general, they have increased the speed and ease of communication at work, which consequently improves efficiency and thus leads to business growth. For example, a national business could easily become global these days as both advertising and customer- communication can be solely conducted online regardless of time zones, cost constraints and location. In this way, computers have revolutionised opportunities for businesses and have made the world a lot ‘smaller. 

In summary, this is how you can address and improve on your PTE Written Discourse enabling skills:

  1. Use relevant content
  2. Adopt a good structure
  3. Use linking words
  4. Mix it up with a range of sentence types
  5. Correct punctuation
  6. Adopt appropriate tone and accurate vocabulary
  7. Present a logical sequence of ideas.

And of course: FEEDBACK! When it comes to PTE Writing practice, teacher feedback is almost always necessary for getting a clear sense of how to improve. Take a look at the article: Yes, You Definitely Need Feedback On Your PTE Writing Practice!’

For further advice on PTE Written Discourse please take a look at this PTE video: ‘Ask Jay Anything: High PTE Written Discourse Score but Low Overall Writing Score?’

For PTE scoring advice regarding PTE Written Discourse enabling skills, click on the article: ‘PTE Scoring for Newbies: Key Questions Answered!’

For some great PTE writing tips, head over to: PTE Writing Tips: How to Improve Your Essay

Happy PTE Written Discourse writing!

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE! 


Written By Danielle. 


Your One-Stop Guide to TOEFL Speaking Preparation

This article from E2Language provides running examples of TOEFL speaking preparation along with pre-test strategies that will broaden your knowledge and expand your horizons … Seriously! 

TOEFL speaking Preparation
Want to ace your TOEFL speaking prepration? We’re going to break-it down for you ~ TOEFL style. 

Here’s the TOEFL Speaking Preparation low-down

There are six speaking tasks in the TOEFL. Two of these are independent where you speak about given topics.

Four of them are integrated where you’re given information to combine into a spoken summary.

Independent Speaking

The two independent speaking tasks are: Description and Summary.


In the Description, you could be asked to talk about anything from your personal experience. For example:

Describe a teacher who had an influence on you. Or:

Describe a book that you liked to read as a child or something of the sort.


In the opinion, you’ll need to give your opinion on a topic and explain why you think that. For example, you might be asked whether you agree or disagree with a statement, like:

All children should play a sport. You will need to support your opinion with reasons.

For the two independent speaking tasks, you’ll have 15 seconds to think about what you want to say and note down any ideas, and you’ll have to speak for 45 seconds into a microphone.

Integrated Speaking

These tasks include either listening, or reading, or both. For all four of these tasks, you’ll have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak into a microphone.

 Summarize opinion

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a conversation related to the text
  • Summarize the opinion of the speakers

Summarize reading and lecture

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a lecture related to the text
  • Summarize the reading and lecture, linking the main ideas

Summarize problem

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a conversation
  • Summarize the problem and solutions discussed
  • State chosen solution and explain why

Summarize lecture

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a lecture
  • Summarize the main ideas
TOEFL speaking TED
Ari Wallach, TED

Pre-Test TOEFL Speaking Preparation Strategies

Firstly, preparing for the independent speaking tasks is easy.

Remember, for task 1 you need to describe something familiar, and for task 2 you need to give an opinion.

So, for task 1, you can prepare by brainstorming a list of familiar topics like:

  • Music (specific types/songs)
  • Books (favorite books/childhood books)
  • Travel experience
  • Important objects/gifts
  • Important life events
  • Important people from history
  • Influential people in your life.

These are just a few examples of possible topics.

Think about personal stories related to these topics and practice narrating these to yourself or your friends and family.

For task 2, you should practice giving your opinion on different topics. Research topics which inspire different opinions. These can be related to things like:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Children
  • Animal rights
  • The environment

Note: These are just some examples and there are plenty more examples out there! 

Read about issues related to these topics and think about where you stand. Make sure you practice giving detailed reasons to support your opinion.

This will help you to form opinions about a variety of topics and build up your fluency and expression in English.

For more targeted TOEFL preparation, each day, choose a random topic from this in the list to research and practice a one-minute response for it.

Integrated Speaking

To prepare for the Integrated Speaking tasks, you need to prepare by building different skills – reading, listening, speaking, summarizing, and integrating, or combining information.

To build these skills, you will need to practice summarizing information from a reading passage.

You should read short texts on a variety of academic topics. National Geographic is a great website that has many different topics such as history, geography, culture and the environment.

Read an article a day, taking notes, and then practice speaking for a minute about what you have read.

TOEFL speaking preparation
You can read magazines of interest and find articles that spark your curiosity.

Also, you will need to practice summarizing information from an audio recording. TED and TED-Ed are great sources of academic lectures.

Listen to a lecture a day to practice note-taking skills. This is extremely important for the integrated speaking tasks. Then, give yourself 30 seconds to prepare a summary.

You can then practice speaking for one minute, summarizing the information in the lecture and focusing on main ideas and their related examples.

Another major skill that you need to develop for the integrated speaking is integrating information to give a spoken summary. So, find an article on a topic and then look for a lecture on the same topic.

Practice your reading and listening note-taking skills. Then use your notes from the reading and lecture to prepare a summary that integrates views from both sources.

Practice talking about the different views presented in each source and how they relate to each other.

As you can see, to build your skills for the TOEFL speaking, you need to read, listen and speak and practice integrating all of these skills.

Jump straight into E2 TOEFL Speaking with the expert TOEFL teacher, Lucy! 

Start planning your TOEFL speaking preparation time by following the link to this TOEFL Preparation blog post!

And make sure you check out our quality TOEFL learning materials too!

You can find our TOEFL preparation course on our website:

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All the best with your TOEFL Speaking preparation!

Written by Jamal Abilmona

Answer these PTE Describe Image Practice Questions | Boost your score!

Note: This article follows on from How to Crack PTE Describe Image: Formula & FAQS

Kick-start your PTE Describe Image practice by using the 4-sentence formula to answer these tricky example questions!  

So, these questions are designed to test your speaking skills.

Remember that you only have 25 seconds to prepare for the PTE Describe Image. You need to understand an image, think quickly and deliver fluent, grammatical and relevant sentences within a 40 second timeframe. What a challenge!

Use the 4-sentence formula (explained in the previous article above) and attempt the following PTE Describe Image practice charts by speaking to the following types:

  • Process/cycle
  • Flowchart
  • Line graph
  • Table
  • Bar graph
  • Picture
pte describe image   Practice recording your answers! 
PTE Describe Image Practice: Example of a Process or Cycle

PTE describe imageYour turn. Describe the process above.

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The image shows the design process for a new house. The process begins when the client completes a questionnaire and ends when a light-filled comfortable house is created. After a free initial consultation the design phase begins. Next is the pre-construction phase which is followed by construction.  During the final phase the keys are handed over and there is a maintenance check. After this the clients can enjoy their new home.

Language for PTE Describe Image 

Make sure you are confident with the language for images and that you can pronounce key words correctly. Your correct use of grammar and vocabulary will drastically improve your overall score.

PTE describe image

PTE describe image

PTE describe image

PTE Describe Image Practice

You’ve got the language. You’ve got the techniques. Now to truly feel comfortable with this task, you need to practice.

Here are some images. You have 25 seconds to prepare and 40 seconds to speak.

Example 1 – Flowchart

PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The image shows the Enquiry Process and Terms of Reference for Australia in 2015. The process begins with the Terms of Reference and ends with the Government response. At the beginning there is initial research and consultation followed by an Issues Paper and a call for submissions. Then there is a Review of Submissions. Later a Discussion paper is produced. This is reviewed and after further consultation a final report is produced. This then goes to the government and a response is given which may involve a change in the law.

Example 2 – Line graph

PTE describe imagePossible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The line graph shows the crude death rate for infectious diseases in the US from 1900 to 1996. The highest rate of deaths was in 1920 whereas the lowest was in 1980. The number of deaths fell consistently over the period apart from the peak in 1920 and a rise after 1980. Possible reasons for the overall fall in deaths from infectious diseases may be related to the introduction of penicillin and vaccines.

Example 3 – Table

PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The table shows the demographic composition of white-tailed deer pre-hunting populations in North Carolina on a 30,000 acre area from 1965 to 2000. The largest total number of deer occurred in 1965 while the smallest number occurred in 1985. Numbers of males declined throughout the period while female numbers fluctuated, but were always higher than males. A possible reason for fluctuations in numbers may be related to climate conditions.

Example 4 – Bar chart

 PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The bar graph shows the distribution of vehicles by origin and type. The most common vehicles were sedans whereas the least common where hybrids.  The majority of sports cars and wagons came from Europe, but overall the largest numbers of cars came from Asia and the USA.  A possible reason for the popularity of the sedan may be that it is a family car and is suitable for a vast range of consumers. The hybrid may be the least popular because it is expensive.

Example 5 – Picture

 PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The map shows the Republic of Cyprus. The largest region on the map is the Republic of Northern Cyprus while the smallest is Episkopi in the south. The island is in the Mediterranean Sea and the north and south are separated by a UN buffer zone. The Troodos Mountains run through the regions of Paphos and Limassol in the south. A possible reason for the UN buffer zone may be political differences.

Note: Be flexible with maps. An extra sentence was added before the conclusion in order to make 30 seconds.

There you have it! Some great PTE describe image practice questions that are similar to what you will get on test-day! Avoid these common PTE mistakes for PTE Speaking!

For more specific PTE task practice, try these PTE Repeat sentence practice activities from our blog! 

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Written by Melinda.