Memory is divided into short-term memory and long-term memory. While taking PTE Academic, both Write from Dictation and Retell Lecture require PTE test takers to have a good short-term memory. The quality of memory is related to inborn talent, but it can be developed by training as well. Today, Sydney PTE Academy will introduce three steps to help you improve your short-term memory, and some recommendations for Write from Dictation.
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- Organise information into manageable "chunks" + Relate the new information to the information you already have stored in your memory
There are characteristic restrictions to short-term memory. Our short-term memory can just hold around 7 discrete pieces of information and can only do so for around 30 seconds. A chemical process causes the memory to dissolve after 30 seconds, but it can be "renewed" by thinking about it again. Besides, to get around the limitation of 7 pieces of information, we need to take the large set of information and find ways to group it into less than seven items. Sometimes people accomplish this chunking by using mnemonics.
- Repeatedly think about (use) the information
repetition is the key to storing information accessible for long-term use. Once we put information into long term memory it is distributed across a network of brain cells called neurons. Repeatedly thinking about or using that information excites the neuron and causes tentacle-like projections to grow out of the neuron. These are called dendrites. Their job is to receive information. The neuron has another projection called an axon that transmits information. When the axon of one neuron is in proximity to a dendrite of another neuron, they can exchange information and form a network. It becomes easier to recall information when there are plenty of neural connections by which to obtain it. Also, once there is a dendrite-axon connection, repeatedly using it causes the contact site between the two to grow, allowing a faster exchange of the information.
In PTE Academic Listening section, the scoring criteria requires test takers to have a good use both of listening and writing skills, which means if candidates prepare more on dictation, it will help them improve the marks in Listening. There are some suggestions in order to help students improve Write from Dictation during self-preparation.
- Understand the meaning of the sentences, do not write down whole words
While doing Write from Dictation, capture the whole meaning of the sentences. Also, if there are some long words, PTE test takers can use abbreviations and complete them after recording is finished. For instance, instead of "There are new innovations in the field of digital architecture", PTE test candidates can write "There r new innov in the field of digt arki". Test takers can create their own abbreviations to use.
- Use basic singular and plural rules to determine which state to use + Make sure there are no spelling errors
If you miss some information while listening the recording, such as "s" which may often be not clear enough during Write from Dictation, the relevant knowledge of grammar can be used to check the accuracy of singular and plural as well as tense. Furthermore, the scoring criteria in Write from Dictation is based on the correct umber and sequence of spelling. Hence, before you click "Next" to answer the following questions, make sure there are no low-level spelling errors in the current answer.
- Some practice website
- Online Dictation - www.englishclub.com/listening/dictation.htm
The website provides dictation materials with three different levels, Sydney PTE Academy suggests test takers choose the level of intermediate and advanced. In addition, the website provides slow playback version of the speech material for users to compare the differences between normal speed and slower one. However, do not use those slow playback as dictation materials directly. Moreover, the website has input box for users to type their answers, which is close to PTE Academic conditions. After dictation, users can click "show answer" to check the accuracy.
2. Dictationsonline - www.dictationsonline.com
The main feature of this website is that every listening material has its analysis of key points for users to practice. The website provides materials with five difficulty levels, Sydney PTE Academy recommend candidates choose level of intermediate and above. The materials on the website are quite interesting, most of which are related to novels or articles that has huge amount of vocabulary. However, some sentences may be too long, users should use pause option in the website to punctuate.