PTE Listening Select Missing Word Questions

The PTE listening select missing word task is one of the most unusual parts of this exam and indeed of all English exams. It is a listening exercise (obviously!) but it is also a vocabulary and grammar challenge because you do not actually get to hear the right answer.

In this article, I am going to explain what this test is all about and – more importantly – how you can prepare for it so that you have a great chance of success.

What is the PTE select missing word task?

This is a really interesting task from the PTE listening exam that requires candidates to listen to a short audio passage (these range from between twenty to seventy seconds in length) and then choose the correct answer from a list of possible options that replace a gap in the speech.

This basically means that you will hear an audio recording and that part of it will be “bleeped out.” You will be given various options that might be single words or short groups of words and you will need to pick the most likely option to fill in the blank part of the audio.

Does this sound easy? Well, some of them can be pretty simple but others are a bit of a headache. Let’s look into it further.

How can you “guess” the right word or phrase?

First of all, let’s talk about the actual process of getting the right answer. Imagine you were given this sentence (and please note that this is not a real exam example – it is just a hypothetical sentence to demonstrate):

  • They have decided to ___ to the cinema on Friday.

What would logically fill the gap here?

Well, there are some words that fit because of their meaning but they cannot grammatically be used. For example, we could “visit the cinema” but we could not “visit to the cinema.” There are other words like “drive” or “travel,” but these are a little less likely. The only word that fits logically and grammatically is “go.”

Certainly, you would not be presented with such an easy question for the real PTE exam! However, I wanted to show you that you can logically intuit the correct word or phrase if you understand the rest of the sentence.

Is this a listening or vocabulary test?

This is definitely a listening test, but it clearly involves some element of vocabulary and grammar, as we have seen in the above details. You need to have a good knowledge of vocabulary and grammar in order to get the correct answer, but without good listening skills, you would not be in any position to guess.

PTE Practice

The key, then, is listening carefully and understanding what has been said so that you can make a logical and reasonable guess at the correct answer. Even if you have only understood the audio recording in the most general sense, it would be enough to allow you to answer the question correctly through grammatical and lexical awareness.

To reiterate, you do not have to understand what has been said perfectly. You primarily need to focus upon the general meaning and then use your logical and linguistic skills to pick the right answer. As with other questions, you can make this process easier by eliminating highly unlikely answers. For example, anything that does not make grammatical sense cannot be the correct answer, so you might be able to rule out a few wrong ones to increase your chances of guessing the right answer.

How to prepare for this sort of question

Possibly the best way to prepare for listening select missing word questions is to use Edubenchmark’s PTE listening select missing word practice with answers resources, which are the best available resources for boosting your PTE listening score.

Apart from that, to get better at select missing word PTE listening questions, you can play some podcasts at home and then pause the audio periodically. Once it stops, you can ask yourself logically what would follow. Of course, this is much harder than the question in the exam because for PTE you are given some options to choose from. However, by doing a more open-ended and difficult question type in your practice attempts, you can ensure that the real PTE listening questions do not seem so challenging.

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