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Using details, examples and explanation

When completing the Re-tell Lecture and Descibe Image item types, you need to use details, examples and explanation to sufficiently express the content and make sure that retell all the important points. There are a number of ways that you can ensure that you select the relevant details, examples and explanation to use in your retelling.

Identifying supporting points or examples

You can often identify the main idea of a lecture by listening to the first sentences that the speaker says. Once you have identified the main idea, you can listen for supporting points which support this idea. To identify these, listen for information that helps you understand the main idea.

Supporting points can support the main idea in a number of ways. Look at these examples of supporting points:

  • Comparison and contrast
  • Description
  • Clarification
  • Illustration
  • Causality
  • Exemplification
  • Prioritising and ranking ideas

Download the Signposts handout at the end of this article for some more examples.

As you learnt in a previous step, it is not possible to take notes on every word in the lecture and you cannot retell all content as you only have 40 seconds. Therefore, it is important to be able to prioritise, rank ideas and choose those which are the most relevant to support the main idea. There are two types of details:

  • Major details These are essential for understanding the main ideas. It offers primary support for the main idea.

  • Minor details These help understand the major details. They offer support for the major details. In retelling a lecture in the speaking section of PTE Academic, you should use the major details as these are essential to understanding the main idea and some of the minor details.

Showing the connection between main ideas and supporting details

When you retell the lecture, you need to show the connections between the main ideas and supporting details. To do this, you need a range of signposts to specify the type of connection. These include:

Connection Examples
Comparison and contrast however, in contrast, similarly, this is different/similar to, on the one hand/on the other hand
Causality This is because, the reason for this, therefore, so, as a result, one consequence of this, one reason for this, this occurs when, this results in
Exemplification for example, for instance, one instance of this, an example of this

Download the Signposts handout at the end of this article for some more examples.

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This article is from the free online course:

Practise your PTE Academic Speaking Skills

Macquarie University