The Pearson Test of English (PTE) is an English proficiency exam recognized worldwide by academic and official institutions. It assesses your English language skills and covers Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. The latter is the second-largest part of the test, takes up to an hour, and evaluates a number of abilities. In this article, we will be looking at some PTE Listening tips.

PTE Listening tests your ability to understand spoken English and communicate what you have heard, as well as process the information received. You will have to summarise texts, pick correct answers from multiple-choice lists, and write from dictation.

Audio and video clips play automatically during the test, and they are only available once so you need to be quick to process the information. You are allowed to take notes throughout to help retain what you hear.

Tips for the PTE Listening Test, by Type of Question

Tip 1: Summarising Spoken Text

  • As you listen, make notes of the main and supporting points quickly so you can refer to them when drafting your answer
  • In your answer, ensure you include all the information and be careful to use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Tip 2: Multiple-choice Questions

  • Take notes while you listen – capture the main points and the supporting details
  • Listen for meaning and tone, not just for content
  • When picking your answers, don’t just look for the words you heard
  • When only a single answer is possible, focus on the kind of information you need – often, the question tells you exactly what to listen for
  • Before the recording begins, skim the answers as they will give you an idea of what the text is about

Tip 3: Fill in the Blanks

  • You will have 7 seconds before the recording starts so quickly skim through the text so you get an understanding of what you will be listening for
  • Write down the words you plan to fill in the blanks with; this way you can review your answers before you fill them in

Tip 4: Highlight Correct Summary

  • Take notes as you listen, and focus fully on the recording rather than the answers on screen as they can distract you
  • Match the notes you have taken to the answers afterward

Tip 5: Select Missing Word

  • Listen carefully and make your selection right as the recording stops; then, take a few seconds to re-read the options and make your final decision. The next recording will not start until you click ‘Next’ so take your time

Tip 6: Highlight Incorrect Words

  • Read the on-screen transcript quickly in the 10 seconds before the recording begins, in order to familiarise yourself with the topic
  • Once you have an idea of the topic, you’ll already be able to pick out words that don’t fit the context
  • Follow the text with your mouse cursor as you listen; click on the words that sound different from what is written; you can de-select the word you’ve chosen if you change your mind

Tip 7: Write from Dictation

  • Write down as many words as you can remember in the correct order
  • Use your knowledge of grammar to determine where a word should go in the sentence if you can’t remember the exact order.

General Tips for PTE Listening

  • Make sure you know the test format, timings, and how questions will be presented
  • Learn the scoring system by checking each question type on the official website
  • Familiarise yourself with what to expect on test day, by checking the summary on the PTE official website which lays out what happens on arrival and during the test
  • Practice with the online material and any other resources available a few times before you take the test
  • Familiarise yourself with the type of computer that will be used during the test: a QWERTY keyboard especially if you do not currently use one
  • Allow time before you arrive at the test center, at least 30 minutes to check in and pass security.

Coverage of PTE Listening Test

  • Summarising a 60-90 second clip in 10 minutes (50-70 words)
  • Multiple-choice questions following a 40-90 second clip; these either have several right answers or one right answer only and can address content as well as tone
  • Filling in the blanks in a transcript of a 30-60 second recording
  • Highlighting the correct summary of a clip
  • Selecting the missing word or phrase after listening to a recording where these have been replaced with a beep
  • Highlighting incorrect words in the transcript of a clip, displayed on-screen
  • Writing from dictation following a 3-5 second recording

There are many resources to study for the PTE in general and the Listening section in particular, and you must go through all official information regarding the test even if you are fluent in English, as even the best speakers may be taken aback by the format of the questions, time constraints, etc.

The official website has online practice tests which will help familiarise you with the format and content of the PTE Listening Section. These are scored and timed in the same way as the actual test, so they will give you a great idea of where you would score when you take the test yourself. Several kits are available to purchase online, and even an offline practice test is available to download free of charge.

Additionally, you can purchase official coursebooks to understand the test format and practice all the sections. These come with practice CDs so you can also prepare for the PTE Listening section with actual recordings.

Moreover, an app is available to download, with a study planner, practice activities, and useful information.

Finally, there is the option of a course in a group or one-to-one setting. You can either seek a private language school or tutor specializing in PTE or take online courses with E2Language, Pearson’s online test preparation partner.


We hope that this article on the PTE Listening test was helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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