CAE Listening will be the last of four written sections of your CAE exam. It consists of four parts, 30 questions in total and it lasts for about 40 minutes. We will take a look at each type of task in detail with examples.
Know the CAE Listening structure already? Go ahead and try some free CAE Listening Practice Tests!
CAE Listening main peculiarity is that you listen to each track two times. This provides you with a number of approaches to dealing with the tasks and allows you to listen closely to the parts you’ve had difficulties before.
The listening segments present a number of different characters, situations and accents. The last is especially important as some accents tend to be more challenging to get used to — Australian pronunciation seems to be especially challenging.
You will listen to three short independent extracts. There are two questions for each extracts for a total of six questions. You have to choose the right answer out of three given options. Example:
Your first and most powerful tool in CAE Listening is keywords. Question 1 keywords are “man’s opinion” and “second album“.
The man begins his speech by talking about the first album. He says that he liked very much. But we must remember that we need his opinion on the second album. He says that the second album is released too soon and the author might be “running out of steam” — this all means that the author didn’t put enough effort in it and it came out worse that the first one. So the only answer that fits here is C.
The second question keywords are “two speakers agree“. This question is more difficult. You may want to exclude the options that do not fit — you will have enough time to do that as you will be listening to the recording twice. Option A doesn’t fit — Meg says nothing about freshness of the music. Option C doesn’t fit either — only Meg mentions the calming effect of the music. Option B fits better — Meg mentions how the music is “bland” and John doesn’t say anything against this opinion — he agrees with Meg.
You will listen to one long extract — a monologue. You should fill the gaps with appropriate word from the recording. A gap may contain up to two words. Note that you shouldn’t change the words you hear. See below for clarification.
The sample recording below is shortened down to four questions. Normally you have to answer eight questions. I have shortened the preparatory time accordingly (from 40 to 15 seconds)
As before you have to underline the keywords. This time however you should concentrate on understanding what part of speech the missing word or words belong to. Look at gap 3 — judging by the sentence it has to be a noun. It is crucial to keep that in mind when looking for the right word in the recording.
Anyway, the keyphrase here is “most important aspect“. In the recording the speaker says: “Forward planning is actually the key to my work”. Forward planning then is the words you should put in the gap. Next question is pretty similar.
Question 5 is a bit more difficult. Note how there is an adjective “right” before the gap. The word that you should use as the answer has another adjective before it. Do not use the adjective from the recording as you already have one.
CAE Listening Part 3 is slightly different from part one as this time you listen to one long recording instead of three short ones. The recording is a conversation of two or more people.
As with the previous task, this sample recording is reduced to three questions. Normally you would answer six questions. The preparation time is shortened as well (15 seconds from the usual 40)
You start by underlining keywords. For Question 7 they are “difficult“, “writing” and “book“. The recording mentions three of four answers in one way or another, all of them related to the question but the only right answer is B. Answer A is the reason she started writing — she wanted to spend more time with her daughter. Answer C has the same reason as A. Answer D is not mentioned.
Answer B fits because the author mentions “missing the applause and the laughter” — the immediate response as opposed to writing a book and having to wait for the book to be judged by the public.
Question 8 keywords are “why“, “critics“, “disliked” and “novel“. Answer A isn’t mentioned in the recording — the critics do not say whether the book was funny or not. Answer B is wrong too — nothing was said of the success of the book or journalists opinion about it. Answer C doesn’t fit — even though male comedians’ books are mentioned the critics do not compare them in any way. The right answer is D — it is in the last sentence, expressing their dissatisfaction with taking up two activities — writing and performing.
Now try and answer question 9 without any guidance!
CAE Listening Part 4 is by far the most difficult of all. You have to listen to five short monologues and answer 10 questions. You have to select ten correct options out of available sixteen.
You have to answer 2 questions for each monologue. The task is to determine the speaker’s profession (Task 1) and their expressed idea (Task 2). Note that there are extra options in each task so you won’t use all of them.
The main challenge is that the speakers never clearly state their profession, you have to figure it out from the context — what they do, their responsibilities, likes and dislikes. Let’s take speaker one as an example:
Judging from the recording, he is “supposed to be the fittest person around”. He “opens up for the early birds at seven for them to flex their muscles”. This must mean that he is either owns a gym or works there. So the answer is B – a fitness instructor.
Task 2 is harder — the options are not as obvious as in Task 1. I usually scan-read all of the options and keep them in my head while listening to the monologues. That way it is easier to match them to the context of each monologue and see if they fit. For speaker one the answer is C — he enjoys his daily routine, judging by the quote “the day just rolls on with more of the same” and then “I like the predictability of it”.