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Predicting Content

Learn more about predicting content and selecting missing word questions.
JOHN SMITH: One of the methods you will need to develop in order to be successful in the listening section of the test is predicting. Before you listen is important to make guesses and predictions about what you will hear. Making predictions helps you to anticipate vocabulary and develop ideas about the context and topic.
SPEAKER: Being able to predict content will help in retail lecture tasks. Because the image in the question prompt will give you an idea about the general context of the upcoming listening. Look at this example of a question prompt for retail lecture. There are several strategies you can use here when predicting the content of the listening. Firstly, you should study the image to determine the topic. This will help you predict the type of information that will be given in the lecture. For example, if the topic is space travel and exploration, the lecture could be about launching a rocket, the pros and cons of space travel, or the space race between different countries.
Next, think about what words and vocabulary items you would likely hear. For example, rocket, launch, sky, space, travel, exploration. Doing this before listening not only helps you to be an active listener, but also will improve your comprehension of the lecture. Another strategy you should use in listening test items is recognising and identifying signposts, or signal language. These are words and phrases speakers use to signal what they’re about to say next. In the listening section of the PTE test, you will hear lectures, presentations and talks, where the speakers use signposting phrases and signal language to indicate structure, link arguments and signal key ideas.
These phrases are like road signs that help listeners to understand where the speaker is going with their talk, and what is going to happen next. If you can recognize these signals, it can help you focus your listening, follow the content of the listening passage and understand the main points. Understanding signal language is a key sub skill that will help you answer the summarize spoken text, highlight correct summary and multiple choice question test items. Look in the content section below the video for some examples of signposting language that are commonly used in talks, presentations, and lectures.
JOHN SMITH: Remember, you can listen more effectively by thinking about the topic and content or the recordings before listening. You can also use signposting language to understand the logical development of ideas while you listen. Mastering these listening skills will help your general language proficiency and improve your overall performance in the test.

Predicting Content

The listening method in the video for predicting content will also help during Select Missing Word questions, as the topic of the text you listen to is given in the instructions.

From a set of options you have to predict what words the speaker will say based on contextual clues in a recording.

Here’s an example:

Predict the content by reading the topic and skimming the options quickly to gain an idea of the aspect of the topic the speaker might talk about. Next, think about what words you expect to hear.

Now listen to the audio in the Select Missing Word task and select the correct option to complete the recording.

Remember, thinking about the recording before you hear it spoken is an important strategy for many PTE items in Part 3 of the test as it helps you listen more effectively.


In the video, John also introduced signposting. These are the words and phrases speakers use to signal what they are about to say next. Identifying and understanding signal language helps to indicate structure, link arguments and signal key ideas.

Here are some examples of signposting language that are commonly used in talks, presentations and lectures.

Function Signposting words and phrases
Introducing the first topic or argument: let’s start by talking about, to begin with, first of all, it is well-known that, it’s significant that, in the first instance
Paraphrasing, clarifying and reformulating ideas in other words, in a manner of speaking, io put it simply / another way, as can be seen, generally speaking, to sum up
Explaining, giving examples for example, for instance, to illustrate, case in point
Contrasting instead, conversely, on the contrary, but, nevertheless, on the one hand, on the other hand, alternatively, however, yet, although, unlike
Cause, reason, result, consequence accordingly, as a consequence, as a result, consequently, in light of this/that, therefore, hence, because, because of, due to, on account of, owing to
Timing afterwards, meantime, in the meantime, meanwhile, eventually, subsequently, then, after, that

For the Listening: Summarize Spoken Text item type you hear an audio recording and need to write a 50-70 word summary on what you heard. You need to use signal language to determine how the parts of the lecture relate to each other and to identify the most important information to include in a summary.

Your summary should contain the main idea and most important supporting details but should not contain specific facts, statistics, a lot of details, examples or opinion.

To identify the main idea and key supporting details, listen for signposting language for introducing the main ideas. The main idea will be repeated throughout the talk so the speaker may use signposts to signal paraphrasing, clarifying and reformulating the argument. You should also listen for the signals that show the relationship between ideas. Note down these key points on your erasable noteboard. If you hear signal language for introducing an example you don’t need to note it down as it should not be included in your summary.

Your task

Listen to an example of Summarize Spoken Text and listen for the signposting language. Take notes on the main points and supporting details.

Summarize Spoken Text Recording

From your notes, you can then summarise the main point and refer briefly to the essential supporting points, which will gain you good marks for content. Post your summary in the Comments.

For more information on how Summarize Spoken Text is scored, watch the video tutorial in the SEE ALSO section.


Pearson. (2019). Score Guide (Version 11). Retrieved from here

Disclaimer: The question prompts are for practice purposes only and are not official PTE Test materials.

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PTE Success: The Skills You Need

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