The Listening Exam

There are 4 passages and 40 questions. You need to concentrate in this exam. You need to prepare for this exam by developing an understanding of the different question types and also by developing strategies.

The situations in the test are usually related to aspects of student life in the UK. This could be a meeting in a student party or the first day at a university. There are sometimes short extracts from lectures or people talking about accommodation or a weekend trip to a museum. If you familiarize yourself with the topics you can build up related vocabulary.

Unlike many other listening exams, you only hear each extract once. This is because in real life you only have one chance to listen, one chance to catch the main ideas. If you are at a train station then they usually make an important announcement about delays once. If you are in a lecture or a seminar then people rarely repeat themselves. The listening exam is trying to assess your ability to deal with the reality of listening. Prepare and predict as much as you can before the tape starts. When you listen you are then listening for confirmation of most of the answers.

While you are listening do not try and write down everything – you could miss some important details if you do this. Try and listen out for the stressed words. Try and keep calm if you don’t recognise some words.

After all sections of the listening, you are given ten minutes to transfer your answers.  Remember to do this carefully and to check spelling and basic grammar as you transfer. It can be easy to make basic mistakes here and lose valuable points. If you are not sure then try and guess as you may get an extra point.

Read and follow the instructions: check the number of words allowed for the answer
Remember some simple things: spelling is important and so is basic grammar like verb agreements and plural forms
Predict what you will hear: look at the vocabulary in the question and think if related words and expressions. Consider opposites and the likelihood that the taped extract will try and catch you out by using some or all of the answers.
Underline key words and use them to help you keep up, as it is easy to miss something under exam pressure.
Identify what kind of information you need to listen for: look at the questions carefully. Look at pictures or multiple choice questions and find the similarities or differences. Look at any gapped texts and think about both the type of word missing and the meaning.

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