Listening can be challenging, but don't worry

Listening can be challenging. However, with a little preparation you can achieve your best mark.

In this part of the exam it's as much about getting as far over the magical 50% mark as possible as showing off your skills. The Listening paper is marked out of 20, but this is scaled up to be worth 25% of your overall grade - so for example 10 out of 20 is 12.5% of your final grade.

Remember you don't get a dictionary as you would in Reading and Writing, or a teacher to prompt you as you would in Talking so it's to be expected that you might find Listening challenging, especially at the beginning of the course.

Don't worry though, there are plenty of things you can do to help you through this part of the exam.

The Exam Paper

Paper 2 – Listening

  • Listening is the only element in this exam.
  • The exam lasts 30 minutes.
  • You write answers in English.
  • The exam will be on the context not covered in Question paper 1 – Reading and Directed Writing. That means that if Reading was about technology (Society) and the two Directed Writing stimuli were about visiting a school (Learning) and going on holiday (Culture), then Listening would be related to Employability.

Reading the questions is important

You get a minute to read the questions before you hear the first item. Use this time to identify the key words in the questions and to look at the marks allocated to each question. Do you already know the Gaelic for these words? This will help you listen out for them as you listen to the passage.

Monologue and Dialogue

The listening paper has two parts.

Monologue (one person talking) 8 marks.

Dialogue (conversation between two people) 12 marks.

The first item you hear in the exam will be a monologue (that's one person talking). It is worth 8 marks.

You will hear the first item twice, with one minute between each playing. There will then be time before the second item. Use that time to write up your answers.

The second item will be introduced and you get a further minute to study the questions. You'll hear this item twice as well, with one minute between each playing.

The second item will be a dialogue (two people talking to each other). It is worth 12 marks. You'll get time at the end to write up your answers.

Listen, then get writing

This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but it is a listening exam, try and take your time, relax and listen.

First playing: just listen and work out what the passage is about but take a few notes if you would like to, writing down any words you recognise.

Second playing: on the second playing, continue to take notes, more thoroughly this time. If you are absolutely sure about an answer, write it in.

Use the time at the end of the passage to help you formulate your notes into answers. If you've taken good notes you should be able to give thorough answers to every question. Remember this is Higher, so one word answers are not usually enough, you will need to write a phrase or a sentence.

Fill in the blanks carefully, use your time carefully

Do not guess the answer, but try not to leave any blanks either. This may seem like a contradiction, but even if you have a gut instinct and think you recognise some of the words in the section of the item with which you are struggling, that is not a guess, put it down as a note. Then turn it into an answer when you have time, if it still makes sense within the context of the passage.

Use all the time you have. The exam doesn't finish when the second playing of the dialogue comes to an end - you have the full 30 minutes. Use it all until the invigilator calls the exam to an end.

And Relax. You did your best. If it has all gone well, you'll have achieved a good many of the marks which will help your overall grade.