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Listening FCE (B2 First) Test - Tips And Technique
There are 4 parts in the Listening section of the Cambridge English: First (FCE) exam. This whole section takes approximately 40 minutes.
FCE listening tests your understanding of different conversations in different contexts. You hear each part of the listening section twice.
For this section of the exam, it is important to understand the purpose or overall idea of what each speaker says. This is because this section of the exam contains 'distractors'. 'Distractors' are words used to distract your attention from the real answer. For example, in part 1 (multiple choice a,b,c) there may be a word in the listening which also appears in option 'b'. However, this may be deliberate and the real answer may actually be 'a' or 'c'.
In part 1 of the FCE Listening section you hear 8 different people talking in different situations. There are 8 multiple choice (a,b,c) questions, one question for each different person.
Tips And Technique
Before the recording starts you have time to quickly read through all the questions. Use this time to read through the question, but ignore the a,b,c options.
Underline the key words in the question. Ignore the a,b,c options still. Then you know the information to listen for.
To avoid 'distractors' (see above), I suggest covering at the a,b,c options until you have listened to the passage. Then, after listening and still not looking at the options, decide what you think might be the answer to the question. Then look at the a,b,c options and see if one option is similar to what you thought.
In part 2 of the FCE Listening section you hear one person talking. There is a long passage with some gaps in which you need to fill. You will not need more than 3 words to complete the gap.
Tips And Technique
You should read through the passage quickly before the recording starts. Think what type of information is needed to fill the gap. Also, think what type of words you need. If the word before the gap is an adjective, you might need to write a noun. This article will be useful for deciding what type of word you need.
You might be able to make a more specific guess what words you need to write. For example, you might need a number, e.g. 1000.
Write the same words that you hear in the recording.
When you have filled in a gap, read the whole sentence again to make sure what you have written answers the question.
In part 3 of the FCE Listening section you hear five different people speaking. You have 8 sentences (A-H) and you have to decide which sentence best fits what each speaker says. There are 3 extra sentences which you do not need to use.
Tips and Technique
You have 30 seconds to read through sentences (A-H) before the listening begins. Underline the most important words.
When you are practising this part of the Listening section, think about the main idea of each sentence (A-H). Then think about words and vocabulary that relate to this idea. Try to do this in the exam before the listening starts.
The first time you listen write every letter you think might be correct for the speaker. You can check the second time you listen. After the second time you listen, you might realise you have written 'A/C' next to speaker 1 and just 'A' next to speaker 2. If you have not written 'C' next to any other speaker, it would make sense to choose 'C' for speaker 1.
In part 4 of the FCE listening section, you hear one or more people speaking. You have 7 multiple choice questions (A-C) to answer.
Tips and Technique
Look at Part 1 above and follow the same tips and techniques.
Make sure you answer the question. It may be that all the answers are correct, but only one answer actually matches the meaning of the question.
If you need more help with the listening or other parts of the exam you can:
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For help with the writing section of the exam you can see previous FCE writing examples with corrections and feedback. You can also send us your own writing and if we have time we will correct it and give you feedback.
Here are a couple of the lessons from the 'Listening' video course...