PTE Speaking – Superb Strategies For The Repeat Sentence Question

The Pearson speaking tests assesses a candidates basic communication skills in order to determine if they are ready to integrate into an English-speaking environment. This part of the test is combined with the writing section and consists of 8 different task types. Each of these question types comes with its own unique set of difficulties that need to be overcome in order for you to score well in them. In this article we will pay particular attention to the read aloud question.

Here is a detailed look at what you can expect:

Repeat Sentence Format

In this question candidates will have to repeat a sentence from an audio recording. The recordings last for about 3 to 9 seconds and there are usually about 10 to 12 questions of this type of present in the speaking section.

You will have 15 seconds to produce a word for word rendition of the sentence you have just heard.

This question seems too easy to be true. However, there are actually a number of skills that are assessed during this question. Two of the most obvious ones are pronunciation and the other is your memory skills.

This question tests your ability to understand and remember a sentence, and then repeat the sentence exactly as you hear it using correct pronunciation.

How Will This Question Be Displayed?

Instructions for this question will be the top of the screen, followed by two status boxes

The first status box is an audio box and the second is a recording status box.

The audio box status counts down from 3 seconds and thereafter a recording is played. Once this happens the audio box status changes to ‘playing’ and an audio progress bar will show you how much of the recording is left. When the recording finishes, the status will change to "Completed."

In the recording status box, the status will also count down at the same time as the audio status box while the recording is playing. Once the recording has finished you will have one second before the recording status box changes to ‘recording’ For this question type there is no beep before the microphone switches on. You will have 15 seconds to record your response

You have to start speaking before 3 seconds or else the microphone will automatically switch off. Make sure that you only start recording once the recording box status has changed.

Here is an example of how this question will appear on test day:

How Is This Question Scored?

How you answer this question affects both your speaking and listening score

  • Content: Your response should include all the words from the sentence and only these words. The number of correct word sequences in your response will be counted. If you have nothing from the recording in your response this will negatively affect your score. This means that if your answer is irrelevant to the recording you will receive zero points in total for the entire question, instead of just for the points awarded for content.
  • Oral fluency: Your response should demonstrate a smooth, effortless and natural rate of speech. Hesitations, repetitions and false starts will negatively affect your score.
  • Pronunciation: You should produce speech that is easily understood with correct intonation and stress. Responses should also be immediately understandable to a regular speaker of the language.

Here's how your scores will be calculated:


4. All words in the response from the prompt in the correct sequence

3. At least 50% of words in the response from the prompt in the correct sequence

2. Less then 50% of words in the response from the prompt in the correct sequence

1. Almost nothing from the prompt in the correct sequence


6. Native like 

5. Advanced

4. Good

3. Intermediate

2. Intrusive

1. Non-English

Oral Fluency:

6. Native like

5. Advanced

4. Good

3. Intermediate

2. Limited

1. Disfluent

Repeat Sentence Skills Tested

Memory skills

As a general rule, human beings are capable of storing up to 7 pieces on information in their short-term memory. Since most repeat sentence recordings consist of between 7 to 15 words, you might have to group words together to make up 7 slots of information for your mind to hold.

For example, the sentence ‘Her appointment for Tuesday afternoon was moved to the following week’ could be grouped in the following way:

‘(Her appointment) (for Tuesday afternoon) (was moved) (to the) (following week)’

This creates 5 pieces of information to remember instead of 11 individual words.

Pronunciation Skills

Since your answer will be graded by a computer AI and not a human examiner, its important to make sure that your speech is as clear as possible.

Most native speakers do speak at a much faster rate than second language speakers and they often blend together letters, words or even phrases.

For example ‘I want to go’ becomes ‘I wanna go

A human examiner might be able to understand this type of speech, but a computer algorithm will find it difficult to differentiate between blended words. Therefore, it is important for this task to enunciate your words very carefully and clearly in order to avoid confusion.

Your speech also has to have the correct levels of stress and intonation. If this is not one of your strong points you can try the following tip:

An easy way to score well in this area is to pay particular attention to the pronunciation and intonation of the speaker in the question. Try to mimic the basic pronunciation features of their speech

Tips for this question

  • Close your eyes and listen. This helps you to focus better and memorize the sentence.
  • Alternatively, you could note down the key words. This will help you remember the sentence better,
  • There is no beep at the end, so just start speaking after the clip ends.

Consider Getting An Outside Opinion.

It is very difficult for a second language learner to properly assess their own speaking or reading ability without any bias. This is where having an experienced PTE professional as a tutor can come in handy. they can easily identify weakness and errors that are holding you back from obtaining a higher score for this type of question. They will also be able to help you improve your answers so that they meet the specific set of criteria that the PTE algorithm will assess you on during your actual test.

Let’s look at the following sample question: