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PTE Tips: Summarize Written Text

Don’t understand the Summarize Written Text item type? Need to improve your writing skills? Have no idea where to start? Take a look at these tips!

About the task type

In short, in the Summarize a written text item type for Pearson PTE Academic, you must summarize a written text (of up to 300 words) in just one sentence.


It is very similar to the Summarize spoken text item type but with some very important differences. To avoid confusing them, make sure you:

  1. Only write one sentence

  2. Do not write less than 5, or more than 75 words

If you do either of the above, you will receive an automatic zero for this task, so don’t forget!

How to complete the task

1. Identify the overall topic

First, skim through the text and identify the overall topic. Ask yourself: what is this text all about? What is the point of this text? This will be the base of your summary.

2. Identify the main ideas

Then, identify the main idea of each paragraph. Sometimes there are 1-2 paragraphs, sometimes 5! Usually, though, you can identify the main idea of each paragraph. This is normally, though not always, stated in the topic sentence (the first sentence) of each paragraph.

3. Paraphrase

Rephrase the main points in your own words. One of the most common mistakes students make is copying the words from the text and putting them directly into their summary. This is a major error. To achieve a high score, you must use your own words. To do this, you need to know synonyms (words that have the same or a similar meaning e.g. fast and quick). When you study, learn synonyms for words by looking them up in a thesaurus.


A key skill for the Summarise written text item type is writing complex sentences. To write a complex sentence, you need to know how to create subordinate clauses using subordinate conjunctions and relative pronouns.

Here is a list of subordinate conjunctions:

Here are your relative pronouns:


Correct use of commas is also vital to the Summarize written text item type, so it is important to know when to use them! Follow these rules to ensure you are using commas correctly. Similarly, students benefit greatly from knowing how to use a semicolon ( ; ). This can often be used instead of a full stop to join two sentences together – but it still counts as one sentence!

Don’t forget to proofread!

As with everything you write, you must proofread what you’ve written! Leave a minute at the end of your summary to go back and reread it. Check for spelling, punctuation and grammar and correct any mistakes.

Put it to practice

The most important thing now is to practice. You can practice using the materials we provide you with at English Key, or using any kind of written text, such as newspaper or magazine articles. To get the very best, however, join one of our PTE preparation courses in Melbourne and attend a writing class. When you join a PTE training course, you can also email us your summaries (and essays) and receive personalized feedback from one of our highly experienced teachers.

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