The PTE Listening - Summarize Spoken Text question is quite similar to the PTE Writing - Summarize Written Text question. However, you will have to summarize an audio instead of a text, and you can write more than one sentence in your summary.

Many candidates fail to score well in this particular question, mainly because they lack the necessary skills and strategies to tackle this advanced type of question. In this article we will take a closer look at the The PTE Listening - Summarize Spoken Text question

Here is a detailed look at what you will find in this article:

Summarise Spoken Text Format

This question tests both your listening and writing skills. It is considered In this question candidates are required to write a short summary based on the contents of an audio recording. You will have 12 seconds to read the instructions before the recording automatically plays. The recording lasts for between 60 to 90 seconds. The recording will play only once.

There are two to three Summarize spoken text items in PTE Academic, depending on the combination of items in a given test. They are presented together in a single block. You will then be required to type out your summary into a small text box below the recording. Your summary should be between 50 to 70 words and should only include the important points of the lecture.

It helps to take notes while the recording is playing. Use these notes as a guide when deciding on the important features to include in your summary. You should spend about 3 to 4 minutes on this question.

How Will This Question Be Displayed?

You will find the instructions at the top of the screen. This will tell you whether you will hear a lecture or an interview.

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 12 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.

A response box is present below the audio status box, in which you will type your answers. You can also easily edit your answer by selecting the text and using the Cut," "Copy" and "Paste" buttons to edit your response .There is also another box which displays your word count as you type.

This item type is individually timed and a timer will continue to countdown on the top right hand corner of the screen. The total length of this question is ten minutes. However, you will have 8 to 9  minutes to answer, depending on the length of the recording. Once this time is up the test will automatically move on to the next item.

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.

This question affects both your listening and writing scores. Your response for Summarize spoken text will be judged on the quality of your writing and on how well you describe the key features of the lecture. Your score is based on five factors:

For Summarise Written Text Questions the following criteria are taken into consideration:

  • Content (0, 1 or 2 points)
  • Vocabulary (0, 1 or 2 points)
  • Form (0, 1 or 2 points)
  • Spelling  (0, 1 or 2 points)
  • Grammar (0, 1 or 2 points)

Let’s take a more detailed look at these criteria and what you need to do in order to score well in these areas.  


Your summary should address all key points mentioned within the lecture. All aspects of your summary have to be topic related. The best responses clearly summarize the main points and condense essential supporting points. Your summary should be to the point and should not include unnecessary details like supporting points and examples.

If you have misunderstood the main feature or topic of the lecture and your summary consists only of irrelevant material, you will receive a score of zero for the entire summary.


This refers to the candidates ability to write a formal summary within the specified word count, between of between 50 and 70 words. Summaries that above or below these targets will decrease your score. If your summary is less than 40 words, you will receive a score of zero for the entire question


Vocabulary refers to the words and phrases you use in your summary. Vocabulary is scored according to its relevance to the lecture and its appropriateness in an academic environment. You should use these words correctly and appropriately. You should also use paraphrases and synonyms where possible. Avoid just repeating the same words from the lecture.

You must also be able to spell these words correctly. Do not switch between British and American spellings, choose one type and stick with it throughout your summary


This refers to your ability to use a range of grammatical structures and to use them accurately. In order to maximise your score in this particular area you must be able to produce complex and error free sentences. Remember to use the same form and tense used in the text.

The best responses use concise sentences that clearly communicate the intended meaning.

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 ideas
  • summarizing the main idea
  • identifying supporting points or examples
  • identifying a speaker's purpose, style, tone or attitude
  • understanding academic vocabulary
  • inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words
  • comprehending explicit and implicit information
  • comprehending concrete and abstract information
  • classifying and categorizing information
  • following an oral sequencing of information 
  • comprehending explicit and implicit information
  • comprehending variations in tone, speed, accent

writing skills

  • writing a summary
  • writing under timed conditions
  • taking notes while listening to a recording
  • communicating the main points of a lecture in writing
  • organizing sentences and paragraphs in a logical way
  • using words and phrases appropriate to the context
  • using correct grammar
  • using correct spelling
  • using correct mechanics

Strategies For Answering This Question

Make sure that you focus when listening to the lecture. 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 keywords and phrases. Your notes should only serve to reinforce what you are listening to, so make sure that you focus on listening and not on note taking

Once the recording is over review your notes and plan your summary. Your summary should include an overview sentence, which gives a general idea about the main theme or topic of the lecture.

Make sure that your summary focuses on the main ideas of the lectures, you can also include essential supporting details. You should use complex sentences, but always make sure that you are aware of how to use these structures properly.

What Are Keywords

You should focus on meaningful words and not grammar words like articles, prepositions or pronouns. These words are just the glue that binds sentences together.

The meaningful words are the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. These are the words you should focus on.

When these words are grouped together, we get key concepts. The most common key concepts are formed using nouns and verbs.

For example:

‘scientists believe global warming’ noun + verb

‘whales swim slowly’ verb + adverb

I don’t recommend using a fixed template to answer, since as mentioned before the algorithm will penalise you for providing irrelevant content. However, you can use a basic structure and build upon it.

Summarise Spoken Text Structure

The (speaker)  discussed (the main topic)

He/she mentioned keyword/ concept 1

He/ she talked about keyword/ concept 2

He/ she discussed keyword/ concept 3

He/ she described keyword/ concept 4

He/ she suggested that keyword/ concept 5

Make sure that you use the past tense, since you will be summarising lecture a that has already 

The above-mentioned structure is a very basic structure that will not give an excellent score. You can improve your summary by adding cohesive devices to demonstrate a chronological order.

For example:

Summarise Spoken Text Advanced Structure 

The (speaker)  started off by discussing (the main topic)

He/she then mentioned keyword/ concept 1

He/ she talked about keyword/ concept 2

In addition to this, he/ she also discussed keyword/ concept 3

He/ she also described keyword/ concept 4

Finally He/ she suggested that keyword/ concept 5

This will help make your sentences sound more natural and complex.

can use your own verbs to make the summary sound more complex. For example, the speaker highlighted the importance of or emphasized

Once you are done writing, you should thoroughly recheck your work. It should contain only key information and be within the specified word count. Check grammar, spelling and punctuation, and make corrections where necessary.

Tips for this question.

The time remaining for each question does not carry off to the next question. Since this is one of the longer and more challenging question types, I recommend using every second of your allotted 10 minutes wisely, instead of skipping to the next question. Make sure to thoroughly recheck your work.

Practice Question

You will hear a short report. Write a summary for a fellow student was not at the report. You should write 50 to 70 words
You have 10 minutes to finish this task. Your response will be judged on the quality of your writing and how well your response presents the key points presented in the report


Interviewer: International expansion is also something that you've emphasised as CEO, and one interesting aspect of that has been a focus on locally-produced content. I wonder if you could talk about the ways in which, in a globalised world, in a global economy, locally-produced content is important for an iconic company like Disney.

Jger: Well, first of all, global growth is imperative for us. We are not only a very durable brand worldwide, but we are a very well-known brand, so I think we have the ability to not just succeed, but to grow and to thrive in many markets around the country for years to come. But in order to do so, it's not just about putting our product there, meaning taking something that's been made for another market, putting a local language track on it, and distributing it locally. It's about being locally relevant, and that means operating locally, meaning moving our people to markets so that they understand the markets, the culture, the interests. It's also about being creative locally: there's a lot of talent and a lot of creativity in many, many places around the world, and we have to tap into that content.

Sample Answers and Comments:

In an interview with the CEO of Disney, started off by discussing the importance of locally produced content. He then mentioned that there is a global growth imperative, even with companies as well-established as Disney, to sell products in the language of a particular region, He also added that Disney has to make products that are locally relevant. Finally, he suggested that by operating locally, companies can use local creativity and interests to enhance the relevancy of their products to their customers in that location.

The content of this response is excellent. The response is an accurate and detailed summary of the main point and several supporting points discussed in the lecture. The grammar follows standard conventions. The vocabulary used is appropriate for the context. All words are spelled correctly. This response is 70 words long.

As doing business in globalized world, Disney is trying to extend markets by targetting global grosses. This includes applying brand and non brand products. It is not just that strategy, the more important thing is by being locally relevant, moving people to market. By doing this, Disney is able to being creative loccally. This means that Disney can pull them to its market by using their culture to attract them.

The content of this response is good. The main point has been discussed and supporting points are included. This response demonstrates limited grammatical control. Several errors on choice of word hinder understanding. (grosses, able to being, can pull them)  There are two spelling errors. (targetting and loccally) This response is 70 words long.

With the global ecnomic increasing sharply, we have to strong ourselves. I think we have ability to enter the global world and we will have a position. I believe the most important thing for us is how to send our production, our culture ana the belief to the global market, and how should we do to make these things accepted by the world and people lived in other contries. I have the strong belief that we will win.

The content of this response is weak. While the response contains information related to the lecture, the test taker misrepresents the main point. This response demonstrates weak grammatical control, which hinders understanding. The vocabulary is basic and imprecise. There are several spelling errors. This response is 79 words long, which is over the maximum length of 70 words.