Summarize Written Text

The PTE summarize written text section of the exam is designed to test both your writing and your reading skills. You will be reading a piece of text that is between 150 and 200 words in length. This is typically broken down into a few shorter paragraphs.

Once you read the text you will be required to summarize it into a single sentence. That sentence must be grammatically correct including vocabulary and punctuation. It must make sense to the reader. It also must summarize all of the most important content from the text so someone would know what it was about without reading it.

What to Do:

  • Do not add anything that isn’t in the text, even examples.
  • Use proper grammar, especially the basic grammar.
  • Focus on the last line of each paragraph and the end of the text for the most important information.
  • Summarize each paragraph separately and then as a single text.
  • Write at least 30 but no more than 50 words.
  • Use words that you know how to use.
  • Write a single sentence with punctuation, not multiple sentences.
  • Use transition or connecting words.
  • Practice summarizing content in a short sentence.

Common Summarize Written Text Exams

There are several written text exams that have been used again and again. You may come across one of these paragraphs or pieces of text when you are taking your own exam. Even though these texts appear frequently, that does not mean that you should memorize the sample answers to give as your own.

Sample answers should only be used to help you create your own response to the text or to know what kind of information to focus on.

Sample Text 1:

When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola during his first transatlantic voyage in the year A.D. 1492, the island had already been settled by Native Americans for about 5,000 years.
The occupants in Columbus’s time were a group of Arawak Indians called Tainos who lived by farming, were organized into five chiefdoms, and numbered around half a million (the estimates range from 100,000 to 2,000,000). Columbus initially found them peaceful and friendly, until he and his Spaniards began mistreating them. Unfortunately for the Tainos, they had gold, which the Spanish coveted but didn’t want to go to the work of mining themselves. Hence the conquerors divided up the island and its Indian population among individual Spaniards, who put the Indians to work as virtual slaves, accidentally infected them with Eurasian diseases and murdered them. By the year 1519, 27 years after Columbus’s arrival, that original population of half a million had been reduced to about 11,000, most of whom died that year of smallpox to bring the population down to 3,000.

PTE Practice

Sample Text 2:

For decades, space experts have worried that a speeding bit of orbital debris might one day smash a large spacecraft into hundreds of pieces and start a chain reaction, a slow cascade of collisions that would expand for centuries, spreading chaos through the heavens.
In the last decade or so, as scientists came to agree that the number of objects in orbit had surpassed a critical mass — or, in their terms, the critical spatial density, the point at which a chain reaction becomes inevitable — they grew more anxious.
Early this year, after a half-century of growth, the federal list of detectable objects (four inches wide or larger) reached 10,000, including dead satellites, spent rocket stages, a camera, a hand tool and junkyards of whirling debris left over from chance explosions and destructive tests. So our billion dollars of satellites are at risk.

Sample Text 3:

Most of the time when I embark on such an investigation, it quickly becomes clear that matters are much more complicated and ambiguous — several shades greyer — than I thought to go in. Not this time. The deeper I delved into the confused and confusing thicket of nutritional science, sorting through the long-running fats versus carb wars, the fiber skirmishes and the raging dietary supplement debates, the simpler the picture gradually became. I learned that in fact science knows a lot less about nutrition than you would expect – that in fact nutrition science is, to put it charitably, a very young science. It’s still trying to figure out exactly what happens in your body when you sip a soda, or what is going on deep in the soul of a carrot to make it so good for you, or why in the world you have so many neurons – brain cells! – in your stomach, of all places. It’s a fascinating subject, and someday the field may produce definitive answers to the nutritional questions that concern us, but — as nutritionists themselves will tell you — they’re not there yet. Not even close. Nutrition science, which after all only got started less than two hundred years ago, is today approximately where surgery was in the year 1650 – very promising, and very interesting to watch, but are you ready to let them operate on you? I think I’ll wait for a while.

Take a look at each of these texts and create a single summary sentence of approximately 40 words for each. You can practice with the same text multiple times by creating a slightly different sentence each time. This will help you prepare and find more of the important points in the text.

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