CAE Listening Online

CAE Listening Online Tips and Technique

The Listening section of the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) exam has 4 parts and lasts approximately 40 minutes. This 'CAE Listening online tips and technique' article should hopefully give you some useful advice to help you pass the 'listening' section of the CAE exam.

You hear various conversations and different people speaking. Each part of the listening section is played twice.

The listening exam contains 'distractors', which are words deliberately chosen to confuse listeners and make them choose incorrect answers. For example, if you have a multiple choice question, you may hear a word from option 'b' in the recording. This does not mean you should choose option 'b', another option may be better. You need to understand the speaker's overall meaning and purpose for each section.

CAE Listening Online

Part 1

In the 'Listening' section part 1 you listen to three different situations. These are normally two people having conversations in different contexts. You have to answer 2 multiple-choice questions (a,b,c) for each situation. So 6 questions in total.

Tips And Technique

  1. You have 15 seconds to look at the 2 questions for each extract before the recording starts. Read the 2 questions, don't look at the a,b,c options and underline the key words.

  2. The first time you listen think what the answer is for each question, still without looking at the options.

  3. Quickly look at the options and decide which one your thinking most closely matches. Mark that answer.

  4. On the second listening confirm your answer. This technique should also help you to avoid 'distractors'.

Part 2

In the 'Listening' section part 2, you listen to one person talking. You have one long passage and you have to fill in some gaps. 3 words is the maximum you need to use to fill the gap. This section tests your ability to locate specific information.

Tips And Technique

  1. You have 45 seconds to look at the passage before the track begins. Take a few seconds to get a quick understanding of the overall topic.

  2. Look at the gaps and think what type of word is needed – adjective, verb, noun etc. When preparing for this exam you should learn about sentence structures in English, word families and how to form certain word types. This article will be useful to begin with.

  3. It might be possible to guess the exact words you need. Watch out for common expressions, phrases and collocations.

  4. This section tests your ability to recognise specific words and expressions. Even though the words surrounding the gap might not be the same in the listening, you should write the words you hear.

  5. Try to get the answer the first time you listen. The second time you listen try to follow the context and ideas more generally. As you go through, check what you have written answers the question. If you do this, it will help you avoid 'distractors'.

  6. Finally, check what you have written is grammatically correct and watch your spelling!

Part 3

In part 3 of the Listening section you have six multiple choice (a,b,c,d) questions. This is normally an interview or a conversation between 2 different people. There are 6 questions in total. You do not need to listen for specific words in this section, like in part 2. However, you do need to try and understand opinions and the most important points in what people say.

Tips and Technique

  1. You have 70 seconds to read all the questions. I would read the question and underline the key words.

  2. Some of the options (a-d) may have similar ideas. So, read the four options at the beginning and think what makes 'a' different from 'b' or 'c' etc.

  3. Put a mark next to the option you think is correct after the first listening. Confirm this the second time you listen.

Part 4

In part 4 you listen to five different people talking. They all talk about the same theme. You have 10 questions to complete (21-30). For questions 21-25 you normally have to choose a reason why someone does something. There are 8 options (A-H) to choose from but you only need to select 5 of them. For questions 26-30 you have 8 options (A-H) again to choose from and answer five questions. Questions 26-30 usually need you to listen for more specific information. Questions 21 and 26 apply for the first person who speaks. Questions 22 and 27 apply for the second speaker etc.

Tips and Technique

  1. You have 45 seconds to look at the questions before the recording starts. Use this time to read all the options (A-H) and underline the most important words. Think of words related to the words they use and write them next to the options (A-H). They might help you locate the information you need. This should also help you remember the main ideas for each option.

  2. The first time you listen, try to write you answers next to the questions for both sets of questions. You may have more than one potential answer, so write them both next to the box.

  3. The second time you listen confirm your answer and select one answer if you have two next to a question. Check if you have written 'A' and 'E' next to question 27, have you also written 'A' or 'E' next to another question. If you also have 'E' and no other letter written next to question 30, the answer for 27 will probably be 'A'.


Perhaps the most important tip to help you pass this section of the exam is to join my CAE listening online lessons. Book your first lesson free to practise ?

 For tips and techniques for the CAE speaking test, click here.

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