Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Tips and FAQS for the Listening paper of the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam

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Here are some tips and answers to questions we often receive on the Listening paper of the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam.


  • Listen to and read the instructions throughout the test. Make sure you understand what you are listening for and what you have to do.
  • Use the preparation time before each recording is played to read through the question and think about the context.
  • Use the information on the page to help you follow the text.
  • Look carefully at what is printed before and after the gap in Part 2 and think about the kind of information that you are listening for.
  • Write only the missing information on the answer sheet. (Part 2)
  • Write your answers as clearly as possible.
  • Check your answers from the first listening when the recording is played a second time.
  • Answer all the questions – even if you’re not sure.
  • Make sure you have transferred your answers accurately to the answer sheet.
  • Don’t rephrase what you hear in Part 2; write down the exact word(s) or figure(s) that you hear on the recording.
  • Don’t complicate your answer by writing extra, irrelevant information. (Part 2)
  • Don’t spend too much time on a question you are having difficulty with as you may miss the next question.
  • Don’t rush to choose an answer just because you hear one word or phrase – concentrate on the overall meaning. (Parts 1, 3 and 4)
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What aspects of listening are tested in the Cambridge English: First for Schools Listening test?
You will be tested on your understanding of:

  • gist (meaning)
  • main points
  • detail
  • specific information
  • your ability to deduce meaning.

You will listen to monologues and interacting speakers from a variety of sources.

How many times will I hear each recording?
You will hear each recording twice.

How do I record my answers?
You must write all your answers on a separate answer sheet. You may write on the question paper as you listen, but you must transfer your answers afterwards. You have 5 minutes at the end of the test to do this.

How many marks is the Cambridge English: First for Schools Listening test worth?
Reading, Writing, Listening, Use of English and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam.

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

May 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

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