Understanding PTE Part 1 Item type 5 – Retell a lecture

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What you have to do for this question type:

For this section of the PTE test, you will hear a lecture and will have to summarise what you heard. It is one of the most difficult PTE questions in the speaking test, so practice is essential to do well with this question type!

Task length and timing:

For this item, you may see an image on the screen and there will be a short delay (3 seconds) before the audio begins. The audio is an excerpt (a short piece) of a lecture, and will last up to 90 seconds. Then you are given 10 seconds to prepare your answer. Then the recording begins, and you have to summarise what you heard within 40 seconds.

More information:

For this section of the PTE test, you will definitely need to use your notepad.

The main point to remember is that you are being asked for a summary of what you heard, NOT a repetition. Although you can use some vocabulary and some key phrases from the lecture, you need to avoid simply repeating sentences that you heard.

The scoring for this question type:

Your score for this item is based on three aspects: content (have you accurately summarised the information given in the lecture? Are the relationships between the points you summarise clearly linked and not disjointed?), oral fluency (did you speak at a natural pace, with smooth phrasing and accurate stress?) and pronunciation (would the average person in an English speaking country understand you easily?).

The scores generated from this item affect your overall score for listening (as you hear the lecture), speaking (as you summarise the lecture), oral fluency and pronunciation.

Useful techniques:

Your summary needs to be up to 40 seconds long, and during that time you are likely to make a few mistakes – it’s important that you don’t waste time worrying about an error you have made or trying to repair it. More points are awarded for covering the main points raised in the lecture rather than being 100% accurate in your sentence structure, so make sure you cover these points even if a you make a few mistakes on the way.


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