Listening Skills for PTE: How to Excel in the Listening Section


Listening Skills

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

If you are reading this blog, you have likely heard of the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic. It is a test renowned for assessing the readiness of non-native English speakers to participate in a university-level English language instruction program.

Introduction: Why You Should Focus on the PTE Listening Section?

The PTE exam is divided into several sections, each evaluating specific language skills. The Listening section, in particular, stands out as a challenging but critical component. Importance of the Listening Section:

  • The Listening section of the PTE exam is pivotal in assessing an individual’s ability to comprehend spoken English.
  • It’s essential for understanding lectures, discussions, and instructions—everyday occurrences in educational and professional environments.
  • The PTE Listening section simulates these real-life situations, making it an essential part of the test.
  • Scoring well in the Listening section contributes significantly to your overall PTE score and enhances your readiness for academic and professional success in English-speaking countries.

Purpose of the Blog – Strategies to Enhance Listening Skills for PTE Success:

This blog aims to provide test-takers with valuable insights and practical strategies to improve their listening skills tailored explicitly for success in the PTE exam.

  • We will delve into various aspects of the Listening section, including question types, time management, and approaches to boost comprehension.
  • Following the strategies and tips outlined in this blog can bolster your listening abilities and perform optimally in the PTE Listening section.
Fluency and Pronunciation

The Significance of Listening Skills: Why Do You Require Them To Succeed?

Imagine sitting in a lecture, straining to catch every word and concept, and then realising you’ve missed vital details. A bit alarming, isn’t it?

The Significance of Listening Skills:

Strong listening skills are a cornerstone of effective communication and are vital in academic and professional contexts. Here’s a discussion of their significance in these settings:

  1. Academic Context:
  • In academic environments, strong listening skills are essential for students to engage with their instructors during lectures. Active listening helps students grasp complex subjects, understand course materials, and ask relevant questions.
  • Effective listening promotes active participation in classroom discussions and collaborative group projects. It enables students to build on each other’s ideas, contribute meaningfully to meetings, and work effectively in teams.
  1. Professional Context:
  • In professional settings, listening skills are crucial for understanding instructions, receiving feedback, and comprehending colleagues, superiors, and clients.
  • Effective listening supports clear and efficient communication, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings.
  • Active listening aids problem-solving by ensuring professionals fully understand the issues. It allows them to ask relevant questions, identify solutions, and make informed decisions.

Listening Skills in the PTE Listening Section:

The significance of solid listening skills extends to the PTE Listening section. Here’s how these skills impact performance in this specific section of the PTE exam:

  1. Question Types: The PTE Listening section includes various question types: multiple-choice, highlight correct summary, and fill in the blanks. To answer these questions accurately, you must listen carefully to the spoken content, including lectures, conversations, and interviews.
  2. Comprehension: Effective listening skills are vital to understanding the context, main ideas, and details presented in the audio recordings.

Types of Listening Tasks in PTE And Their Challenges

There are eight different listening tasks in the PTE exam:

  • Multiple Choice: You have to listen to a short audio recording and select the correct answer to a question.
  • Fill in the Blanks: This task requires you to listen to a short audio recording and fill in the blanks with the missing words.
  • Summarise Spoken Text: You are to listen to a short audio recording and write a summary of what you heard in 50-70 words.
  • Highlight Correct Summary: This task requires you to read four different summaries of an audio recording and select the correct summary.
  • Multiple Choice, Single Answer: This task is similar to the Multiple Choice task, but you can only choose one answer.
  • Select Missing Word: This task requires you to listen to a short audio recording and select the missing word from a list of four options.
  • Highlight Incorrect Words: You have to read a summary of an audio recording and highlight the incorrect words.
  • Write from Dictation: You are to listen to a short audio recording and write down what you hear.

Unique challenges associated with each task:

  • Multiple Choice: The main challenge with the Multiple Choice task is ensuring you understand the question and the answer choices. Listening carefully to the question and reading all the answer choices before selecting is essential.
  • Fill in the Blanks: Listening carefully to the audio recording and predicting the missing words based on the context is essential.
  • Summarise Spoken Text: The main challenge with the Summarize Spoken Text task is understanding the main ideas and supporting details of the audio recording and summarising them concisely and accurately.
  • Highlight Correct Summary: The main challenge is determining the most accurate and comprehensive summary.
  • Multiple Choice, Single Answer: The main challenge is choosing the correct answer from four options.
  • Select Missing Word: The main challenge is hearing the missing word correctly.
  • Highlight Incorrect Words: The main challenge is determining which words are incorrect.
  • Write from Dictation: The main challenge is hearing and writing the words quickly and accurately.
Improving Listening Skills

Strategies for Improving Listening Skills

Elevating your listening skills might seem daunting, but with the right tactics, it’s entirely achievable. Here are some strategies to consider:

Active Listening Techniques:

Active listening is an essential skill for success in the PTE Listening section. Here are practical strategies to enhance active listening:

  • Focus on the Speaker: Pay close attention to the speaker’s words and tone.
  • Paraphrase and Summarise: As you listen, practice paraphrasing and summarising the content in your mind. This exercise helps comprehension and prepares you for summarising spoken text questions.

Expanding Vocabulary:

A robust vocabulary is crucial for understanding spoken English. To enhance your language, consider these strategies:

  • Word Lists and Flashcards: Create word lists or flashcards of words you encounter in listening materials. Review them regularly to reinforce your memory.
  • Contextual Learning: Attention to how words are used in different contexts. It helps you grasp their meanings and usage better.

Note-Taking Strategies:

Taking practical notes during the PTE Listening section is crucial for answering questions accurately. Here’s how to improve your note-taking:

  • Abbreviations and Symbols: Develop a system of abbreviations and symbols to save time while taking notes. For example, use arrows to indicate relationships or sequences.
  • Focus on Key Information: Identify and note the most critical information, such as names, numbers, dates, and key concepts.

Familiarisation with Diverse Accents:

The PTE Listening section features a variety of English accents, including British, American, Australian, and more. To become accustomed to diverse accents, try these strategies:

  • Audio Resources: Listen to podcasts, interviews, or speeches by speakers with different accents. This exposure will help you adapt to various linguistic nuances.

Practice with Sample Tests:

Regular practice is the cornerstone of improving your listening skills. Use sample PTE Listening tests and incorporate the following strategies:

  • Simulate Test Conditions: Create a test-like environment when practicing, including the time limits.
  • Review Mistakes: After each practice test, review your answers and identify areas where you made mistakes or struggled. Focus your subsequent practice on these weaknesses.
  • Timed Practice: Time yourself when practising with sample tests. It will help you develop practical time management skills.

The Role of Context in Listening: How To Understand Context Clues With Exclusive Tips

In language, context refers to the surrounding information that helps determine the meaning of words, phrases, or sentences. In the PTE Listening section, this can include the content of the audio recording, the speaker’s tone, the setting, and the topic of discussion. Understanding and utilising context clues can aid comprehension in the following ways:

  1. Word and Phrase Meaning: Context helps clarify the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases. For example, hearing “green” in an environmental discussion will likely refer to sustainability or ecology.
  2. Inference: Context allows you to make educated guesses about the meaning of words or phrases that are not explicitly defined.
  3. Identification of Main Ideas: Context helps you identify a conversation or lecture’s central theme or topic.
  4. Recognition of Tone and Intent: Understanding the context enables you to discern the speaker’s tone, whether formal, informal, persuasive, or informative.

Tips for Recognising Context in Different Listening Tasks:

  1. Preview Questions: Before you listen to the audio, take a moment to read the questions related to the audio content. It can help you anticipate the information you must focus on while listening.
  2. Listen Actively: Pay close attention to the audio content and the context. Note critical information, such as names, dates, and locations, as this information often provides valuable context.
  3. Note-Taking: During the PTE Listening section, you can take notes. These notes can serve as quick references when answering questions.
  4. Identify Speaker’s Intent: Try to determine the purpose of the speaker. Is it a persuasive speech, an informative lecture, or a casual conversation? Understanding the intent helps you interpret the context correctly.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice: Regularly practice with sample PTE Listening questions to develop contextual comprehension skills. The more you practice, the better you’ll recognise context clues.

Overcoming Common Listening Challenges With Tested Tips

Let’s face it; we’ve all been thrown off by a speaker’s rapid speech or unfamiliar vocabulary. But don’t fret! You can surmount these hurdles by familiarising yourself with the tried and tested techniques of Edulyte’s PTE instructors.

1. Challenge: Fast Speech

  • Solution: Active Listening
    • Develop active listening skills by focusing on the audio content. Train your ears to catch keywords, phrases, and the main idea.
    • Use practice materials with varying speech speeds to gradually acclimate to different speech rates.

2. Challenge: Unfamiliar Vocabulary

  • Solution: Vocabulary Building
    • Expand your vocabulary through regular reading, listening, and vocabulary exercises.
    • Practice using context clues. When you encounter unfamiliar words, use the surrounding information to guess their meanings.

3. Challenge: Complex Sentence Structures

  • Solution: Break It Down
    • Focus on understanding the main message of a sentence before delving into the details.
    • Pay attention to the structure of the sentence and its components: subject, verb, object, and modifiers.

4. Challenge: Accents and Pronunciation

  • Solution: Exposure and Adaptation
    • Listen to audio materials with different accents, such as British, American, Australian, and others.
    • Take accent-specific listening practice to target areas where you struggle the most.

5. Challenge: Note-Taking under Time Pressure

  • Solution: Effective Note-Taking Strategies
    • Develop a system of symbols and abbreviations to take concise notes.
    • Prioritise noting critical information like names, dates, numbers, and main ideas.

6. Challenge: Handling Unfamiliar Topics

  • Solution: General Knowledge and Exposure
    • Broaden your general knowledge by reading and listening to diverse topics and subjects.
    • Familiarise yourself with the common themes or topics frequently appearing on the PTE test, such as technology, environment, health, and education.

Time Management Strategies

Know the Task Breakdown: The first step to managing your time effectively is understanding the tasks you’ll face. Familiarise yourself with the structure of the Listening section: how many tasks there are, the number of questions in each task, and the approximate time each task might take.

Prioritise: Some tasks, like ‘Multiple Choice’, might be quicker to get through, while functions like ‘Summarise Spoken Text’ will demand more time due to the need for both listening and writing. By knowing which tasks take longer, you can allocate time appropriately.

Set Personal Benchmarks: Through practice, establish personal time benchmarks for each task. For instance, decide that you won’t spend more than a certain amount of minutes on ‘Fill in the Blanks’.

Use a Physical Timer: While the computer-based test will have a timer, having a wristwatch or a clock in your vision field can be a constant reminder to stay on track.

Limit Review Time: While reviewing answers is crucial, don’t let it eat into the time allocated for other tasks. Set aside the last few minutes exclusively for review and stick to that.

Practice and Mock Tests

As with any skill, mastery in the PTE Listening section comes with rigorous and consistent practice. But how does one ensure this practice is effective?

  • Replicate Real Exam Conditions: When you practise, simulate actual exam conditions. It means timing yourself, ensuring you’re in a quiet environment, and using only the materials you’ll have on test day.
  • Regular Mock Tests: These are your best bet for gauging where you stand. Not only do they familiarise you with the exam format, but they also help identify areas of improvement. Aim to take a mock test at regular intervals before your exam date.
  • Use Authentic Materials: There’s no shortage of PTE preparation materials online, but not all are created equal. Stick to reputable sources. The official PTE website offers a range of preparation resources, from sample questions to full-length mock tests. We provide high-quality AI-scored mock tests to boost your exam preparation.
  • Feedback Loop: After each mock test, spend time reviewing your answers. Understand where you went wrong and work on those areas.
  • Join Study Groups or Forums: Engaging with fellow PTE aspirants can provide valuable insights. You’ll find recommendations for resources, strategies that worked for others, and moral support when the going gets tough.

Test-Taking Tips for the Listening Section

You’ve done the preparation, studied extensively, and practised diligently. Now, it’s the day of reckoning – the day of the PTE exam. The Listening section, in particular, can feel a bit overwhelming. But worry not; here are some tried-and-tested tips to help you navigate through it smoothly:

  1. Stay Calm and Composed: Feeling a flurry of emotions on test day is natural. But remember, panic is the arch-nemesis of concentration. Before the listening tasks begin, take a few deep breaths. Remember, even if you miss a word or two, it’s not the end of the world. Try to grasp the general idea and move forward.
  1. Manage Your Time Wisely: The PTE is a race against time. While paying close attention to the audio is essential, don’t get so engrossed that you lose track of time. Some tasks, like ‘Summarise Spoken Text’, will naturally take longer than others. Hence, be informed about how much time you allocate to each question.
  1. Review, But Don’t Overthink: Once you’ve answered a question, it’s tempting to dwell on it, second-guessing your choice. While reviewing your answers if time permits is an excellent strategy, don’t obsess. More often than not, your initial instinct is correct.
  1. Familiarise Yourself with the Test Format: This might sound obvious, but many students falter simply because they’re unfamiliar with the exam’s structure. Make sure you know the sequence of tasks and how much time you need for each, and have a general game plan in mind.


Achieving excellence in the PTE Listening section is no small feat, but with determination and the right strategies, it’s well within reach. Take the insights shared here to heart, practice diligently, and you’ll be on your way to PTE success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Effective listening is crucial for PTE success.
  • The PTE Listening section encompasses diverse tasks, each with its challenges.
  • Employ strategies like active listening, vocabulary expansion, and diverse accent familiarisation.
  • Understand the context, manage time, and practice with mock tests.
  • Stay calm and review answers on the test day.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any time management strategies for the PTE Listening section?

Absolutely! Familiarising yourself with the structure of the Listening section, prioritising tasks, setting personal benchmarks, and timing your mock tests can significantly help manage your time during the actual test.

Can you suggest ways to stay focused during the PTE Listening section, especially with long audio clips?

Staying focused, especially with longer clips, demands practice. Active listening can be beneficial, where you’re genuinely engaged and not just passively hearing. Additionally, taking brief notes as you listen can help maintain your concentration.

Are there specific techniques for taking practical notes during the listening tasks?

Certainly! Use symbols or abbreviations to save time. Note down key terms, dates, and names. You can also develop a system: for instance, a star for main ideas, an exclamation mark for surprises or important revelations, etc.

What are the common challenges test-takers face in the PTE Listening section?

Test-takers often cite issues like unfamiliar accents, rapid speech, complex vocabulary, and managing time efficiently as challenges. However, these can be effectively tackled with the right strategies and consistent practice.

Is it possible to get a 90 in the PTE Exam?

Of course! With the proper prep, you can score 90 in your PTE. Proper guidance, regular practice and dedication make it a possible score. 

How to start PTE preparation at home?

You can prepare for PTE from the comfort of your home. We recommend that you follow our tips while preparing for PTE at home:

Join PTE prep online classes
Set your score goal
Be thorough with the test format
Figure out your weak areas
Set a schedule and follow it religiously
Use good study materials

How many times is the PTE exam conducted in a year?

The PTE test is conducted throughout the year. Check the Pearson website to find out the test dates in your region.

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