PTE-Listening Select The Missing Word

Select The Missing Word Format

This question type is very similar to the Fill in the blanks type of question. However, there is only one missing keyword.

Candidates will be required to listen to a 20-70 second audio recording of a sentence or paragraph that has a keyword missing. You will hear a beep instead of the missing word. You will then have to select the word that best completes the text from a list of possible options.

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 select the missing word 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 predict what a speaker will say based on contextual clues in a recording

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.

The last word or group of words in the recording is replaced by a beep.

To select a response, click on the corresponding radio button or the response itself. Your response will be highlighted in yellow. To deselect your response, click on the radio button or the response again. To change your response, click on a different radio button or a different response

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?

Your response is scored as either correct or incorrect. No credit is given for no response or an incorrect response.

There is no negative marking for this particular question type, meaning that it is important to attempt every question, since you have nothing to lose by trying. Who knows, your educated guess might just earn you a few points.

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:

  •  identifying the topic, theme or main idea
  • identifying words and phrases appropriate to the context
  • understanding academic vocabulary
  • inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words
  • comprehending explicit and implicit information
  • comprehending concrete and abstract information 
  • following an oral sequencing of information
  • predicting how a speaker may continue
  • forming a conclusion from what a speaker says
  • comprehending variations in tone, speed, accent

Strategies For Solving Listening Select The Missing Word Questions

Make sure to read the instructions carefully. The first sentence of the instructions will describe  the topic of the recording and this will help you prepare to answer correctly.

While listening to the recording focus on the general content of the recording. Try to understand the main points of the audio as well as specific details.

Also, note how much of the recording is left, since the missing word will be at the end of the recording

Take a look at the options and try to eliminate ones that are obviously incorrect. Now take a look at the remaining options. Try to think of the difference in meaning of these options.

Once you have chosen an option, double check to make sure it is correct. Think about the option you have chosen. Does it have the right meaning to be the missing word? Is it the right part of speech to be the missing word?

Practice Question

Listen to the recording only once. Then select the correct response.

  • blood
  • mood
  • damage failure
  • heart


When a patient has heart failure, their damaged heart isn't able to pump blood, and the oxygen that carries, effectively to the rest of the body. Symptoms of the condition, also known as congestive heart failure, range from swelling in the hands and feet to fatigue to damage to internal organs.
Close to half of patients diagnosed with heart failure will report being depressed, and of those people, about a third will experience serious depression. Now, it appears that having depression can make heart failure worse. Psychologist James Blumenthal, from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led a study in which researchers surveyed several hundred cardiac patients about their mood.

Answer Explanation:


This response is incorrect. Blood and the pumping of blood is mentioned in the first part of the talk. However the speaker changes the focus of the discussion from physical aspects to the mental well being of patients. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the speaker would have mentioned a physical aspect like blood.  


This response is correct. In the final part of the recording, the speaker refers to a psychological study of cardiac patients which was carried out to assess the link between heart failure and depression. Psychologists study depression by studying a patient's mood.


This response is incorrect. Ending this particular sentence with the word damage would make no sense, and would mean that the sentence lacks a great deal of information. 'researchers surveyed several hundred cardiac patients about their damage.' We would be left wondering about what sort of damage is being researched


This response is incorrect. Heart Failure is mentioned in the first part of the talk. However the speaker changes the focus of the discussion from physical aspects to the mental well being of patients. Nothing is mentioned about the patients having any sort of psychological failure


This response is incorrect. Although cardiac patients have problems with their heart, and this is discussed at the beginning of the recording, the speaker changes the focus of the discussion from physical aspects to the mental well being of patients. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the speaker would have mentioned a physical aspect like blood.   condition.