PTE-Listening Fill In The Blanks

Fill In The Blanks Format

In this question candidates will be required to fill in the blanks of a short transcript, that has multiple key words removed. The transcript will be present below an audio box. The recording plays after 7 seconds and lasts for around 30 to 60 seconds. The recording will only be played once, so make sure that you listen attentively. There are no options to pause or rewind the audio, The recording is simply and audio version of the displayed transcript. You will have to type out the missing words as you hear them.

There are two to three Fill in the blanks items in the listening part of PTE Academic, depending on the combination of items in a given test. They are presented together in a single block.

This question tests your ability to use contextual and grammatical cues to determine which words should be filled in and each correct answer receives a credit.

How Will This Question Be Displayed?

You will find the instructions at the top of the screen. Below that will be an audio status box, that will display the amount of time left for the audio to play, as well as the audio is playing or whether it has been completed.

The status box will count down from 7 seconds. Then a recording will play automatically and the status box will change to "Playing."

The audio status box also contains a blue bar that will gradually move to the right as the recording continues.

There will also be a slider, which you can use to adjust the volume to your own level of preference. You can adjust the slider by moving it to the left to decrease and right to increase. You are allowed to adjust the volume at any time while the recording is playing.

There will also be a transcription of the recording with up to seven blanks. To respond, type the missing words into the blanks. To change your response, select your original response and then retype it. You can also use the "Tab" key on your keyboard to move the cursor between the blanks.

Once you are satisfied with your answers, you can select the ‘next’ button to move onto the next question. Remember that listening tasks are not individually timed, so the timer will continue to countdown on the screen.

Here is how this question will appear on test day:

How Is This Question Scored?

This task is scored using partial scoring

What is partial scoring?

Some questions do not have a simple correct or incorrect answer and these questions require subjective responses. Their level of correctness depends on a variety of factors, such a quality, task response, use of grammar or vocabulary.  These answers require a different method of scoring called Partial Scoring.

Questions that require a varied response, like essay or summary writing are score using partial scoring. In such cases, every candidate would have a different response, but their answers still have to meet some common and fixed criteria. These question types are called partial credit questions, and the correctness of their answers are weighed against certain formal aspects like using the correct answer format as well as the quality of the candidates response. These formal aspects also depend on the type of question, for example a speaking question type would depend on pronunciation and word stress, while writing questions formal aspects would include something like the correct use of punctuation.

For this question type, if all blanks are filled with the right word spelled correctly, you receive the maximum score points for this item type. If one or more blanks are filled incorrectly, partial credit scoring applies.

What Skills Does This Question Test?

This question tests both your listening and writing skills.

Here’s a list of the skills you need to be able to do in order to answer this question:

listening skills:

Listening Skills

  • identifying words and phrases appropriate to the context
  •  understanding academic vocabulary
  • comprehending explicit and implicit information
  • following an oral sequencing of information

Writing Skills

  • writing from dictation
  • using words and phrases appropriate to the context
  • using correct grammar
  • using correct spelling

Strategies For Answering This Question

You should start off by skimming the text quickly, as this will give you an idea about what you will hear in the recording. Be ready to type as you listen, so your cursor should be placed on the first blank so that you are prepared to type.

Read the transcript as you listen to the audio.

An erasable notebook and pen will be provided to you to make notes as you listen. Since time is scarce avoid making lengthy notes, as you might miss important information. Simply focus on listening and answering as you hear the answers. Continue filling in the blanks until the recording stops.

Once you have completed all the blanks, check your answers again. Make sure that every answer fits in a grammatically correct way and double check your spelling

Check your responses and correct them if necessary.  Do not recheck your responses right after you type them and while the recording is still playing, as you will waste valuable time and might end up missing important information.

Tips For This Question

Pay Attention To Connections And Referencing

Pay attention to the pronouns and logical connectors in the text and choose words that maintain the right relationships Since different types of linking words are used for different functions, a good understanding of both sentence and paragraph structure can aid in your understanding of the type of word you need to add. Learn to recognise how different connectors or linking words connect different parts of a paragraph

(Add linking words table)

Use Your Knowledge Of Collocations

 Pay attention to conventional phrasing. Choose words that normally appear before or after the particular words on either side of the blanks.

You need to have a good understanding of collocations in order to do this.

What Are Collocations?

A collocation is just a common grouping of words that native English speakers use. There is no real reason behind these groupings. A good example of this is the phrase ' fast food'. We wouldn’t say 'quick food' even though the words quick and fast mean exactly the same thing. Some other common collocations include 'heavy rain, strong coffee' etc.

Common Types of Collocations

1. Adjective + Noun

Correct: deep sleep

Incorrect: low sleep

2. Noun + Noun

Correct: round of applause

Incorrect: group of applause

3. Noun + Verb

Correct: cats purr, dogs bark

Incorrect: cats bark, dogs purr

4. Verb + Noun

Correct: give a speech

Incorrect: send a speech

Pearson’s has an official collocations list of 2496 collocations which can be downloaded from their official website.

Use Your Knowledge Of Grammar To Answer

Use language clues as well as word knowledge to fill in the blanks. Determine the type of word you are searching for, is it a noun, a verb, an adjective, a preposition or an adverb. Usually PTE reading fill in the blank questions have just two types of words missing, for example, there might be verbs and adjectives missing or nouns and prepositions. In order to identify which type of word is missing you need to pay attention to the grammar of a sentence.

You need to have a good understanding of how articles, prepositions and plurals are used in order to be able to predict the type of word needed. Certain prepositions signal that a date or specific place follows. articles like a and or the signal whether or not a singular or plural noun should be placed in the blank. A simple error like using a plural noun instead of a singular noun can result in an incorrect answer, so it is important to practice these grammar topics. If the answer does not fit grammatically, exactly as it is, you probably have the wrong answer.

To understand how to do this you need to practice identifying word types, and you need a good basic knowledge about these word types (nouns, adjectives, prepositions, verbs, and adverbs)

Practice Listening Fill in the Blanks Question

Listen to the recording only once. As you listen, write the missing words in the blanks of the transcription.  

OK, we're going to begin our lectures today on the               basis of mental life.  Psychology was defined at the very beginning of the                of the science by William James as the science of mental life. As I               last time, James argued that the whole purpose of psychology is to try to understand the               , emotional and motivational processes that                   human experience, thought and action. But because the brain is the                 basis of the mind, the mind is what the brain does, James began his famous                    on psychology with a discussion of brain function.


Ok, we're going to begin our lectures today on the biological basis of mental life. Psychology was defined at the very beginning of the existence of the science by William James as the science of mental life. As I described last time, James argued that the whole purpose of psychology is to try to understand the cognitive, emotional and motivational processes that underlie human experience, thought and action. But because the brain is the physical basis of the mind, the mind is what the brain does, James began his famous treatise on psychology with a discussion of brain function.