PTE Retell Lecture overview

A summary of useful and effective practice tips
Jan 28, 202113 min read

In this task, you are required to re-tell the lecture in your own words after listening to or watching a lecture.

Nowadays, sometimes you will have an accompanying picture with the audio. Occasionally, there might be video lectures. In either case you have a visual beforehand to look at and understand what the lecture might be about. Don’t ignore video content but you still need to primarily focus on the audio!

What to expect

Once the audio starts, try to understand the theme and the main points. Take some notes. All you need is 2~3 good points to give a good response. Look out for words that refer to a person, place, thing, event, incident, etc. Words that indicate the beginning of an explanation, a relationship between different parts or an example are also important. Which are these words? Some of these are – because, therefore, however, but, for instance, for example, firstly, secondly, finally, etc.

Once the audio ends you will have 10 seconds to organize your response before speaking. Having a template in mind helps to quickly organize the response. If you already know how to begin the first sentence, how to end your response and how to include the main points in between, you will be able to deliver a well-structured response quickly.

As soon as the microphone opens, start speaking. Speak confidently! Focus on your pronunciation and fluency. Even if you have doubts about the content of your answer, don’t worry about it now. Deliver a complete structured response within the time given to you.

How you are scored

Number of questions:
3 ~ 4
Contributes to Listening and Speaking scores.
Negative marking:
Time to answer:
Lecture starts playing after 3 seconds. Once it ends, you will have 10 seconds to organize your response and then another 40 seconds to record your response

How to preapre PTE Retell Lecture for high score?

Try to speak around 35 seconds

In this section, you will hear a lecture. After listening to the lecture, in 10 seconds you need to speak into the microphone and retell the lecture in your own words. You will have 40 seconds to give your response.

The goal for you here is the same as in describe image, speak for 35 seconds, without long pauses and hesitations in grammatically correct English.

The strategy of taking notes

Make sure you take notes while listening to lectures. You may not get time to write down full sentences. If you can write incredibly fast, then that’s great. Most probably you are not going to be able to write entire sentences, so try writing down key points that can help you to recall the content. Try to include any facts, figures, numbers or dates given as these should be relatively easier to note down.

The lecture will be longer than the time allotted so you do not need to cover all points when you speak. So do not worry if you miss out on few things while taking notes.

You only have 10 seconds preparation time before you speak. You don’t want to be writing down notes ideally during these 10 seconds, but instead, you would want to quickly review your notes and get have an idea of what you are going to say.

If the speaker mentioned any terminology or name that you might not be familiar with, do not write the names but use alternative word to replace it. For example, if it's said "Dr Michael Alexandra", you just say a doctor said bla bla bla.

Maintain fluency

You only have 40 seconds to speak and make sure that you include all the main points of the lecture. If you repeat ideas, correct yourself or hesitate, you will use up valuable time and lose score points. So keep talking and ignore any mistakes that you make.

Correct smooth English weighs more than content

Correct smooth English, delivered at a natural rate, carries more marks than content here as well. You get fewer points if your content is correct and your English is bad. This doesn’t mean you talk about ‘life on mars’ if the topic is on ‘conserving nature’. Stay broadly to the topic all the way.

You will need to say some key point from lecture and in the middle you can insert sentences like “The lecture also mentioned that”, “According to the lecture,...” to maintain your fluency, if you pause or say aah, hhh, then you will lose points. Always remember to answer with clear pronunciation and always maintain fluency. If you pause in middle you will get bad score, and also keep in mind that after 3 seconds of pause the microphone stops recording.

Have a template in mind

You need to have a structure ready in your mind. Practice by using the template in conjunction with real exam question audio again and again until you can remember it by heart. In the exam if you spend time thinking too much about how to organize your response, how to begin, how to connect or how to conclude, it will adversely impact your spoken response, and your fluency will suffer as a result. Don’t let that happen!

Keep some filler statements ready

This goes hand in hand with the use of templates. Prepare a few generic statements to use in your Re-tell lecture responses. When you can’t think of anything else to say, you can use these statements. For example – “The lecture is primarily about ..... and provides very insightful information about ....”

Cover key points

Cover key points, show relationships between things and include implications and conclusions. If you miss out on the key points/main idea of the audio, you will lose marks in the content. In other words, you must understand the main ideas and key points are crucial parts in these audios, and you must cover them in order to get the desired listening score.

Deliver a structured response within given time

Always keep an eye on timer. If you see the time is running out, try to move to the conclusion just in case having your recording cut abruptly by the system at 40s mark. It is important to demonstrate that your ability to start and end a statement.

Make the best use of the picture

Sometimes a picture will come with the lecture, which reveals quite a lot information about the lecture. If you find that particular question (with picture) is very challenging, you can answer the question like how you would answer describe image and speak a few points based on the picture.

Don’t hesitate while speaking

Test-takers often get frustrated and end up using fillers like err, umm, uh in their speech. This usually happens when their preparation is not up to scratch. It is rightly said that by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. To be well prepared, you need to practice as many retell lecture questions as you can.

Don’t repeat same thing again and again

Make sure to have 2~3 good points noted down on your notepad and then speak about them properly in your response. You don’t need too many details. You should also not make the mistake of repeating the same content again and again. The only exception if when you don’t have anything else to talk about. In that case definitely repeat the point, but if possible, in different ways.

Sample Retell Lecture

With sufficient amount of practice, you will likely to improve in pronounciation, intonation and fluency, which are crucial for better speaking score. MYPTE has a huge a collection of PTE Retell Lecture questions for you to practice, each question comes with sample audio answers in different accent for you to mimic from.

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