Tips for listening comprehension tests

You can find below some tips on how to tackle listening comprehension tests:

Tips during the exam:

  1. Make good use of the time you’re given before listening to:
    • read and understand the questions and possible answers
    • highlight, circle…keywords
  2. Use the time you’re given between first and second listen (1 min):
    • re-read questions/answers
    • concentrate again on keywords
    • cross out wrong options/use brackets for headings you are not going to use

You may be faced with different types of tasks:

A. Match extracts to headings: you will listen to different short clips that you will have to match to a suitable heading. You are likely to be given more headings than needed. The headings might be either summarising the gist of the clip or rephrasing one specific part of the clip. 

B. Multiple choice questions: you will be asked to choose the best possible answer.

  • Choose the best answer- it may not necessarily be the only one: choose the most complete, the most accurate
  • Beware of distractors
  • Eliminate the options you know for sure are wrong- decide on the best
  • Take quick notes on the side to help you remember

C. Fill in the gaps:

  • Before you listen: try to anticipate the kind of information you’re going to need (noun, adjective, verb…)
  • By and large, you’re expected to give the exact word (s) you heard or a synonym. 
  • Sometimes, some word-building will be required. For example, if you hear  ‘I feel happy’, in your answer you will have to write:  The speaker talks about the happiness he’s experiencing.   
  • partial points may be awarded if the answer is not 100% correct, but somehow does provide some of the information. 

For most exams, the final tip would be to give an answer to every question, as no points are usually deduced for wrong answers. Check with your exam specifications, anyway. 

More resources for listening comprehension:

Last-minute resources for B2-C1 tests:

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