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10 tips for the Cambridge Listening Test

Monday, 1 June 2015, 09:01 PM by Mamta Bhatt

Here are the top 10 tips for the Cambridge listening test.


  • Before the recording starts, read the questions for each section carefully. This will help you to follow the recording and identify the answers.
  • Remember in PET, FCE and CAE you hear everything TWICE so don’t worry if you are not sure after the first time.
  • After completing a section, it is better to look ahead to the next section and read the questions, than to worry about the last section.
  • Be careful to note word limits. If there is an instruction: ‘Write no more than three words’, writing four words or more will mean you will receive no marks for your answer, even if some of the words are correct.
  • Try to listen for key words or synonyms (words that have the same or similar meaning as another word) from the question to help you identify the answer, particularly when people are expressing opinions or beliefs. For example, on the recording you might hear: “Maria doesn’t like going to the gym and usually just stays at home watching TV”. On your answer sheet, this could appear as “Maria isn’t a very active person.”
  • You are sometimes asked to write down words that have been spelled out in the recording. In order to do this well, you need to know the English alphabet and how each letter is pronounced (for example, the letter ‘I’ is pronounced ‘eye’, and the letter ‘W’ is pronounced as ‘double-u’).
  • Listen carefully for words that indicate which stage of the recording you are listening to, e.g. ‘firstly’, ‘after that’, ‘so finally’. These words will help you identify which question you have reached.
  • As you are listening to the recording, cross out options that you think don’t fit. This makes it easier for you to find the right answer.
  • If you are writing dates as an answer to any question, remember that there are several correct ways to write them (e.g. ‘11th May’, ‘11th of May’, ‘May 11’ and ‘11 May’ are all correct).
  • Even after the second listening, if there are questions you are not sure about, choose the best answer and move on. This will help you to stay calm and positive. You can go back to those questions at the end, if you have time.

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