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PTE listening: strategies for answering multiple-choice, single answer questions

The PTE Listening section assesses your ability to understand spoken English in various contexts. One question type you will encounter is Multiple-Choice, Single Answer, where you need to select the one correct answer from a set of options. This blog post aims to provide you with effective strategies to approach and excel in answering Multiple-Choice, Single Answer questions in the PTE Listening section.

Focus on Keyword Recognition:

Listen attentively for keywords or key phrases in both the question prompt and the audio recording. These keywords often provide clues to the correct answer. Pay attention to specific nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs that are relevant to the question. Training your ear to identify these keywords will help you narrow down the options and choose the most appropriate answer.

Predict the Answer:

Before the options are provided, try to predict the answer based on your understanding of the audio recording. This prediction can serve as a mental guide when reviewing the options. By anticipating the answer, you can eliminate distractors more efficiently and focus on the choice that aligns with your prediction.

Listen for Synonyms or Paraphrases:

The answer choices may not appear exactly as they were mentioned in the audio recording. Instead, they may be paraphrased or presented using synonyms. Train yourself to recognize synonyms or words with similar meanings. This skill will enable you to identify the correct answer even if the wording is slightly different from what you heard.

Analyze Context and Purpose:

Consider the context and purpose of the audio recording to help you identify the correct answer. Ask yourself: What is the main idea or theme being discussed? What is the speaker's objective? Understanding the broader context will assist you in selecting the answer that aligns with the overall message or purpose of the recording.

Be Aware of Traps and Distractors:

Be cautious of traps and distractors within the answer choices. The test creators often include options that may sound plausible but are ultimately incorrect. Carefully evaluate each option and eliminate choices that do not directly address the question or deviate from the main idea of the recording. Pay attention to details and nuances to avoid falling into these traps.

Use Process of Elimination:

If you are unsure of the correct answer, use the process of elimination to narrow down the options. Identify any choices that clearly do not match the information presented in the audio recording and eliminate them. This strategy increases your chances of selecting the correct answer even if you are not entirely certain.

Avoid Overthinking:

While it's important to analyze the options and make an informed decision, avoid overthinking and second-guessing yourself. Trust your initial instincts and the information you gathered from listening to the recording. Overthinking can lead to confusion and potentially choosing the wrong answer. Maintain a balance between thorough analysis and timely decision-making.

Practice with Sample Questions:

To enhance your proficiency in answering Multiple-Choice, Single Answer questions, practice regularly with sample questions. Utilize official PTE practice materials or reliable resources that provide similar question types. The more you expose yourself to these questions and practice applying the strategies mentioned above, the more comfortable and confident you will become in tackling them.


Mastering the skill of answering Multiple-Choice, Single Answer questions in the PTE Listening section requires focused listening, keyword recognition, prediction, and careful analysis of context and options. By employing these strategies and practicing regularly, you can improve your accuracy and efficiency in selecting the correct answer. Remember to stay attentive, trust your instincts, and avoid common traps and distractors. With consistent practice and a strategic approach, you can excel in answering Multiple-Choice, Single Answer questions and achieve success in the PTE Listening section.