In this part of the exam we have four parts. Don’t panic, it is not as difficult as it seems! It lasts 40 minutes.
- The first one is multiple choice. In this part you will hear one or two people talking for about 30 seconds in eight different situations. You will be given 3 possible answers for each question. And, for each question you choose from answers A, B or C. Keep calm! Listen and circle!
- The second part is sentence completion. This part is not as easy as the first one but don’t panic, you are here, so you are able to do this part perfectly! In this second part you will hear one person talking for about three minutes. Here you have ten questions. For each question, you complete sentences by writing a word or short phrase.
- The third part is multiple matching. You are almost done! Come on! Stay strong! In this part of the exam you will hear five different extracts, of about 30 seconds each, with a common theme. For each one you have to choose from a list of eight possible answers.
- At last but not least you have the multiple choice! In this part you will hear one or two people talkinf for about three minutes. Here you have seven questions and for each question, you have to choose from answers A, B or C.
Most of you always think that you are not able to pass this FCE exam due to the listening test; you think that it is impossible but it isn’t. Here you have some general pieces of advice.
- First of all, you need to READ CAREFULLY the questions before listening it.
- Secondly, you have to improve some auditory skills.
- Pay attention to accents! They are really important! Here you have some webpages that you could visit. It will be very useful!
- Intonation: It is very important because you could know if they are asking a question or answering it. Or maybe you could hear their voices so you could know their moods.
- Words link. Pay attention to those words, which are linked when people speak quickly. For example if they wanted to say, “play it” you are not going to listen “plei it” you will listen “pleit”. Here you have some examples.
- Vocabulary: You need to learn as much vocabulary as possible! Idioms are also very important for you! In this webpage you could listen to different podcasts, they are very important too. You also have the App TED.
- Listen to English! There are a lot of free videos, presentations, radio shows, podcasts, etc, that you can listen to.
- Be careful with ages. The speakers will range from teenagers to the elderly, so again, make sure you are listening to a variety of types of people. So don’t only listen to men, or only women.
- Practice listening and writing at the same time! Many of students complain that they cannot listen and write at the same time. But you can, you just need to practice twice!
- Earn from your mistakes. If you take some practice tests do not just say ‘I got 23 out of 40’. You have to focus on the ones you got wrong and try to work out why you got them wrong. Read the transcripts. Listen again and again until you understand why the answer is the answer and why your answer is the wrong answer.
Here you have a useful video about some tips for your FCE exam!
Listening Part 1
This part of the exam lasts about 40 minutes. Relax and take it easy. If you get stressed you will not think right and might make silly mistakes. The text types are monologues (answerphone messages, information lines, commentaries, radio documentaries and features, instructions, lectures, news, public announcements, advertisements, reports, speeches, stories and anecdotes, talks) and interacting speakers (conversations, discussions, interviews, quizzes, radio plays, transactions). Each correct answer receives one mark.
In Listening Part 1 you will hear people talking in eight different situations and you have to choose the best answer. You are given 3 answers to choose from (A, B or C). You have about a minute to read the questions before you start listening to the recording. During this minute, you should analyse the questions and the answers. A good way to do so, is underlining essential information in the questions. You have to make sure you understand the question. Most candidates make mistakes because they haven’t understood the question properly.
Another mistake candidates make is to expect to hear the exact words that appear in the exam. You should always try and look out for synonyms and also antonyms. For example, let’s say the question is:
“You hear a girl phoning her older cousin. Why is she phoning?”
- To tell him some good news.
- To ask him a favour.
- To complain about something.
+ WHY is the key Word. This is the question you have to answer.
Don’t expect to hear the exact vocabulary that appears in the choices. So, while you read the questions, you can always think of vocabulary related to the question. For example, to pick letter A you should be looking for a happy situation, whereas for B you should be looking for words like “please, Can I, could you?” and C you should be listening for negative adjectives. If you think about this, it will be much easier for you to choose the correct answer. Sometimes you don’t have to understand every word they say. You have to listen to the tone of voice.
Here you will find a website where you type the word and it looks for synonyms and antonyms of the word. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/list
It can always be difficult to practise listenings outside the class. Many students only spend class time practising listenings because they don’t have any material at home. Thankfully, on the Internet, there are many websites that can be used to improve listening skills.
If you visit www.fluentu.com there are many fun and interesting clips where you can pick up new language.
It is always good to watch clips and films in English. This will help you understand different accents which is always helpful as in the exam speakers have different nationalities. A good way to improve your English listening skills is watching DISNEY films, as they are made for children and the language used is very clear. My favourite one is The Lion King!
If you enjoy listening to music www.lyricstraining.com is the website for you! In this “game” you have to choose the correct word you heard in the song. This is a very good way to practice this part of the exam.
Listening Part 2
In this part of the listening you have to make sure you understand everything the speaker is saying. You will find a text in which you have to complete the information about what the speaker says. Don’t panic, stay calm.
Always listen twice. You will have a few seconds before the recording starts playing to look through the questions. It is highly recommended to think about which type of word is needed in each gap. If it’s a noun, a verb, an adjective.. This always helps to decide which word is the correct option and guarantee you get the maximum marks, that’s your aim, right?
Let’s study this example together:
As you can see, there is a total of 10 gaps which you have to fill, that’s a piece of cake! Before listening to the recording, observe the information needed in each gap.
Let’s take number 9 for example. Which word do you think can fit this gap?
“Helena’s working day consists of ________ shifts” . Here we could be looking for a number of shifts or an adjective.
It’s also a good idea to write down what you hear first and then check the second time and make any changes you consider necessary.
If we take number 10, we are looking for a noun. Therefore, make sure you listen for nouns and it fits the context correctly. Do you have a pencil? Give it a try!
Don’t worry if you make a spelling mistake, you will still get points. It’s a good idea to practise at home. Do you have a favourite song in English which you enjoy listening to? It’s easy. Go on youtube, look for the latest hits and pick a song.
Then, look for the lyrics and randomly delete some words or short phrases (10 would be ideal!). Then, after a while, listen to the song again with the piece of paper and complete the song with the correct words. You can then autocorrect your song looking at the full lyrics of the song.
Who knows? You might even learn the lyrics to your new favourite song and show off in front of your friends! Isn’t it great?
Don’t forget to increase your vocabulary. If there is a word you don’t understand always look it up in the dictionary and write it down. This may seem silly but it really does help. Also, don’t be lazy! Write the whole definition down. You will notice it. Sometimes a KEY word is what makes you get a point, and if you don’t understand it, you will lose a mark that can be the mark that makes a difference.
Listening Part 3
You are almost done! In this part you will hear five speakers, each speaker talks about a related topic. Don’t forget to read the questions carefully before you listen. Don’t worry! You will listen to the audio twice. You will score ONE point for each question. Keep calm! You will have enough time! The more English you listen to the better you will do! You could listen to the radio, English language, TV, podcasts… It will be very useful for you!
Sometimes the speaker will try to confuse you! So try to listen carefully to the whole speech before you get your answer!
Now we are going to analyse this part in deepth.
The introduction of the listening parts are always the same, and you should pay attention to two thingsm. Here we have an example of part 3:
In this example, the topic is a visit to a city, which probably means vocabulary about travel and cities. You have to say what the speaker liked most about the city. Without looking at the options, you should specualte in order to be easier for you to listen to what the speaker is sayingl. What would you expect to see on the list? The food, the weather, the architecture, the people?
Then you have to eliminate the 3 wrong answers and decide which speaker said what. Before playing the listening, your finished paper might look like this:
What skills does part 3 test?
In this part of the exam you have to understand attitudes and opinions, plus your ability to work out the overall meaning of what someone is saying.
For example, if you hear five people talking about their holidays, you have to think about if their holidays were expensive or cheap, if it eas stressful or fun…
You need to understand if the speaker was happy with his holidays BUT, he will NEVER use the exact word “HAPPY”
- MISTAKE 1 : A lot of students fall into is hearing specific words on the audio and matching them with words in the options. If you hear the exact word it is NOT THE ANSWER!
- MISTAKE 2:They listen to the CD for ten seconds and write their answer. That is a really big mistake because the answer can be in the middle or the end of each speech. And it is a DOUBLE mistake because if you write ‘B’ as the answer for question 1, but B is really the answer for question 4, then you will get two questions wrong, for sure. As it is a listening test. you have to listen the WHOLE speech. You will hear it twice, so you have the opportunity to check your answers.
- MISTAKE 3 : If you are given time to read the questions before the listening test starts, use it! Read carrefully the questiosn so that you could have an idea about what you have to listen to. You need to underilne key words too! Don’t think that this time is a waste of time, use it!
Here you have some sentences that you could hear in the audio so that you find it easier to associate the letter with the speaker!
Asking for opinions: what do you think about…? Do you see what I’m getting at? Do you know/see what I mean? Do you agree with me? Would you go along with that? Would you agree with me that … ? What are your thoughts on that? Don’t you think (that) … ?
Disagreeing with an opinion: I do not agree… I refuse… I’m sorry but… You may be right but… that might be true, but…
Correcting some details: accurate, exact, precise, true, right-minded, proper, rectify…
Asking for advice: What do you think I should do? What do you suggest? What would you do?