This post is aimed at giving you a little bit of help with the B2 Cambridge Assessment English exam.
I will basically give you all of the inside knowledge as an examiner about how to pass the exam. This information is essential to pass the Cambridge exam and show you have a B2 level in English.
As the exam is fairly long and there is a lot of information to process, this post will be divided into 5 sections.
- Use of English
What is obvious is that you need to do more than just mock exams to be able to pass the listening part of the exam. Candidates need to have an intermediate level of English and then learn the exam technique to get the best possible grade. You should watch TV in English, listen to music and listen to podcasts in English. Your listening skills take time to develop, so begin as soon as you can to listen every day. You must learn how to listen and take notes at the same time, this is why dictations and note taking exercises are so important.
Have a look at this advice and put them into practice with our exam preparation material.
The listening section of the exam is worth 20% of the final grade and it consists of 4 parts. The listening usually lasts for 35-40 minutes and has different types of questions to answer. Find out more about the exam HERE.
The first exercise in the listening is a multiple choice task. You will listen to 8 short audios and answer a question about each audio with an option (A, B, C). The audios are normally between 50 seconds and 1.15 long and the tasks encourages you to listen for detail and be able to infer meaning. The best way to do this task is to try to discard the incorrect answers instead of looking for the correct one. In the audios there are distractors and all 3 options, but you will be able to hear a reason why two of the options do not answer the question.
An example of a distractor in part 1:
What does the man like doing best at weekends?
a. watch tv
b. do exercise
c. sit around the house
Well, on weekends I tend to do a bit of everything, I enjoy spending time at home because I spend a lot of time at the office during the week, but I never just laze around. I sometimes watch TV though I think it is a bit of a waste of time so I spend my time doing other things like DIY or gardening, but what I am most fond of is working out in my home gym.
The answer is b. because the other two answers can be discarded (marked in red). The correct answer is also highlighted (green).
Part two of the listening is a gaps fill exercise in which you need to listen to a long audio (2-4 minutes) and fill in the gaps with a short phrase (1,2 or 3 words). It can be difficult to follow the audio because it is long and you are only listening for specific information. The key to this exercise is to prepare it well. You will be given a short text to fill in, read the text and predict the types of words (noun, adjective, name, date, place) that could be missing. You have about 30 seconds to do this.
When you have prepared the text, you need to listen to the audio and write down all of the possible answers. For example, if you are listening for a place, write down all of the place names that you hear. The answers in the audio appear in order so you should just about know when they are going to appear.
When you have listened once, you should have various options, the second time you listen, you just need to choose the correct answer. never leave anything in blank, just have a guess if you are not sure.
Part three of the listening is called “which person?” and it involves listening to 5 people talking about the same topic and there are 8 options to choose from. What you need to do is read the task and it will tell you what you are listening for (a reason, advice etc). You should listen to the 5 audios and take notes, then the second time you listen, you need to compare your notes to the options (A-H) and choose one. There are 5 audios and 8 options, so 3 options are extra and don’t need to be used. The letters cannot be repeated.
part 4 is an interview. there will be 2 people talking, one (the interviewer) asking questions and the other (the interviewee) answering the questions A, B or C. What you need to do is prepare well, but be careful, there is quite a lot to read. Read the questions and the options. You need to highlight or underline the key words. Then you listen to the audio. The answers to the questions appear in order in the audio and it is easy to follow because there will be 7 questions asked in the audio and you have 7 on the paper. Every time the interviewer asks a new question, you know that you need to move on to the next question on the paper. What you need to do is discard the incorrect answers and stay with the correct answer.
To pass the total points are 30 and you will need to get to the 60% pass rate with 18 correct answers.
Good luck in your exam and happy learning!
For some extra tips on how to improving your listening, see the following posts:
THE BEST WAY TO LEARN A LANGUAGE IS BY LISTENING TO IT
5 TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR LISTENING
LISTENING SKILLS: The best way to learn a language is by ear with example dialogues
Want to improve your listening? Don´t just do exam practice!