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Session 1

Are you working towards an important exam? We're here to help with a series of videos that pick out some top tips for studying and taking exams.

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Exam skills: 4 tips to help with your listening exams

Be prepared to listen!

As with other exams, preparation is important.  One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a listening exam is to listen to as much spoken English as possible, as often as you can.  

Watch this video to find out four top tips to help you prepare for your listening exam. Then test your understanding in our quiz.

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For all exams, preparation is important.  And one of the best ways to prepare yourself for a listening exam is to listen to as much spoken English as possible, as often as you can.  That's what this student does…

I think that one of the best things is watching TV because even if you don’t understand it, you can understand it from the picture, but your listening skills are improved. But even better, I think, it’s radio, listening to the radio, because you have to concentrate only on sounds, not on the picture.

So TV or radio are great places to listen to authentic English. Don’t forget that you can also practise your listening skills by watching movies and listening to music. If you listen to something that you find interesting, you are more likely to enjoy the experience and as a result improve your listening.

Also, get hold of some practice tests on CD or as mp3 files and listen to them often. As well as giving you further practice in listening, these tests allow you to become familiar with the format of the exam and let you know how many times you’ll hear the listening text in the real test.

There’s no need to be in a quiet room to do the practice tests. In fact, it’s often better if you’re not – this forces you to focus on the key speakers, with background noise and distractors going on. Language teacher Margaret John says this will help…

Language teacher, Margaret John
Some examinations deliberately put distractors, such as noisy environments like Tube stations and bus stations and airports, behind the speakers. If you’ve been practising listening that way, you will be in a much better position in exam conditions to be able to handle this problem.

When you're finally in the real exam, make sure you can hear properly. If you have a problem, tell the examiner right at the beginning - after the exam is too late!

These tips will hopefully get you going in your listening exam. Good luck!


Did you like that? Why not try these?

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Here's a summary of our tips to help you prepare for your listening exam:

  1. Watch English TV and movies / Listen to English radio and music
  2. Do some practice tests 
  3. Practise in a noisy environment
  4. In the exam, make sure you can hear properly

To do

So what did you discover? Find out by taking our test…

How can you be prepared for your listening exam?

4 Questions

Answer these 4 questions

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y


This BBC webpage has some general advice about listening and speaking. 

Why not check out the rest of our Exam Skills series on our You Tube channel.

Have you got any tips about learning strategies and exam preparation that you can share with us? Please email them to us at learningenglish@bbc.co.uk with 'Exam Skills' in the subject line. We will post our favourites here and on our Facebook page. Please note that we can’t reply to individual emails, but we do read all of them.

End of Session 1

Next, join us for News Review, where we'll bring you key words and phrases from the latest stories and show you how to use it in your everyday English.

Session Vocabulary

  • authentic
    accurate; real

    a person, thing or noise that stops you concentrating on something

    [here] design, layout or structure