The PTE-A test assesses the English language of the test-takers to help them study or immigrate abroad. The questions are based on real-life situations that the test taker can relate to easily and give appropriate responses. This assessment includes speaking, reading, writing and listening skills of the candidate. This test is broadly divided into 3 different sections- Speaking and Writing (combined), Reading, and Listening.
The questions in the third section- the Listening Section mostly require the candidate to listen to the instructions, understand the questions and deliver the correct responses. In the time period of 45-57 minutes, there are a variety of questions in this section.
1. Summarize Spoken Text- In this question type, an audio recording of about 60-90 seconds is played. The candidate needs to listen to this audio carefully and take notes of the important words or ideas, if possible. After the recording is complete, the candidate should write a short summary of the audio using 50 to 70 words. The recording is played only once, hence it is extremely important to be alert while listening and understanding what is spoken in the audio. One can expect around 2-3 such questions in the test.
2. Multiple choice, Multiple answer (MCMA)- In this question type, there is one audio recording, and there are questions based on this recording. The questions have many options, out of which, only a few are correct. The time taken to solve this question type is approximately 40-90 seconds. Like all the other question types, the recording is only played once. There are around 1-2 such questions in the test.
Just like in Reading MCMA, there is negative marking for incorrect responses in this question type as well. For every incorrect answer you choose, 1 point will be deducted. However, the lowest score possible in one question is 0. For example, if you choose 2 correct and 3 incorrect options for a MCMA question, you will be awarded +2 points for the correct responses and -3 for the incorrect responses. But the final score for that question will be 0 (not -1).
3. Fill in the blanks- A transcript of the recording that is about to be played is displayed on the screen. This transcript has many blanks. The candidate needs to listen to this recording and fill in the blanks with the appropriate words from the recording. The candidate is assessed on the capacity to listen to transcripts which may vary in accents and identify and spell the missing words accurately. There will be around 2-3 such questions in the test.
4. Highlight correct summary- In this question type, an audio recording of 30-90 seconds is played which the candidate needs to listen to. Then the candidate is required to choose the correct summary of the recording out of many options. The recording is played only once, so it is important to pay attention to each and every word of the audio. The incorrect options of the question often use the same words as the audio to confuse and trick the test taker. Hence, understanding the meaning of the recording is better than focusing on key points. There are around 2-3 such questions in the test.
5. Multiple choice, single answer (MCSA)- Similar to the MCSA in the Reading section, there are questions based on an audio recording. These questions have multiple options, out of which only one is correct. The candidate is required to listen to the recording properly and choose the correct answer. One can expect around 1-2 such questions in the test.
6. Select missing word- The recording in this question type focuses on explaining a topic or an object. However, it is an incomplete recording where the last couple of words are replaced with a beep sound. There is a list of options shown on the screen, out of which the candidate needs to select the correct ones to complete the recording. There are 2-3 such questions in the test.
7. Highlight incorrect words- A transcript of the audio recording that is about to be played, appears on the screen. However, this transcript includes some incorrect words. After listening to the recording, the candidate needs to highlight these incorrect words by clicking on them. The skills examined in this question type are listening and reading. This question type is subject to negative marking in case the candidate highlights a correct word. There are 1-2 such questions.
8. Write from dictation- As the candidate listens to the audio recording, she or he is required to type out the sentence spoken in the recording as it is in the text box on the screen. Content is scored by counting the number of correct words in the test taker’s response. If all the words are right and spelt correctly, maximum score points are granted for this question type. If one or more words is incorrect, partial credit scoring applies.
The listening section can be a little more challenging than the rest when it comes to the question types. Whereas in the reading section, the passage can be seen multiple times, in the listening section, the audio recordings can only be listened to, once. A quick note-making ability and a good memory to remember the keywords and the tone of the recording are important skills to score well in this section.