Overview of the PTE Academic Listening Section

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Listening section of the PTE Academic assessment features a number of tasks designed to test candidates' listening comprehension abilities. Read on for more information on the format and structure of this part of the test.

PTE Academic Listening

The Listening section is the third part of the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic exam. This section tests candidates in a number of subskills, such as inferring unknown words, summarizing information, and identifying a speaker's purpose. This portion of the test takes 45-57 minutes to complete.

Listening Section Format

The Listening component of the PTE Academic test features several different audio recordings or video clips for candidates to hear. This section includes a variety of tasks to test a candidate's understanding, and include the following:

  • Summarizing Spoken Text: Candidates will listen to an audio recording that is between 60-90 seconds long, and then they will write a 50-70 word summary of the content contained in the clip.
  • Fill in the Blanks: Candidates will see a transcript of a text that has multiple key words removed. They will then listen to a 1-2 minute recording of the same text being read aloud in its entirety, and candidates will need to use the recording to fill in the blanks in the text.
  • Multiple Choice: Candidates will be asked questions about specific information contained in recordings that are 30-90 seconds long. Candidates will be presented with several choices and must select the answer that best answers the question. Multiple choice questions may contain only a single correct response, or candidates may need to select more than one answer.
  • Highlight Correct Summary: Candidates will listen to a 30-90 second recording and then read several passages that summarize the recording. Candidates will then select the summary that most accurately encapsulates the content of the recording.
  • Select Missing Word: Candidates will listen to a 20-70 second sentence or paragraph that has a key word omitted and select the word that best completes the text.
  • Write from Dictation: Candidates will listen to a recording and then type out a word-for-word transcript of what was spoken. Each prompt for this question type is 3-5 seconds long.
  • Highlight Incorrect Words: Candidates will read an excerpt of text and then listen to a recording of the same text being read aloud. The spoken version, however, will contain several changes. Candidates will need to listen closely and identify any words that have been altered between the two variations. Each prompt for this task type is 15-50 seconds long.


The PTE Academic test is graded using the Global Scale of English, a scaling system that resembles a thermometer and is calculated to match up with other common English language assessments like the IELTS and TOEFL. Candidates will receive an overall score between 10 (worst) and 90 (best).

Candidates are awarded points for correct answers on the Listening section, with accommodations being made for different question types. Simple questions with a right or wrong answer (such as multiple choice, single answer or fill in the blanks) will have candidates earning one point for a correct response and zero for an incorrect response.

For multiple choice, multiple answer questions and highlighting incorrect words, candidates will receive one point for each correct answer, and one point will be deducted for each incorrect answer.

The summarizing spoken text tasks contain a more detailed scoring system. Candidates will be graded on their adherence to form (responses must reach the target length) and content (how accurately a candidate can respond to a prompt.) Candidates are also scored on their more fundamental language skills such as grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.

Preparing for the PTE Academic

If you're looking for support as you prepare for the Listening component and the rest of the PTE Academic exam, Study.com has several tools to help you get ready.

This PTE Academic Test: Practice & Study Guide contains plenty of helpful lessons and interactive assignments that will keep you engaged and leave you feeling confident and comfortable on test day. This Grammar Resources course provides a solid review of the fundamental grammatical concepts that you'll need to understand in order to pass the test.

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