FCE (First Certificate in English) is an exam by the University of Cambridge, among other sets of examinations for students. The exam falls in the category of B2 Upper Intermediate Level Exam. FCE listening is among the different parts of FCE, including Reading, Writing, Use of English, and Speaking.

The FCE listening paper makes many students worry, but with the proper preparation, it is easy to sail through this exam. The listening paper comes in four parts. Students will have to listen to different excerpts, which come in dialogues or monologues. All the parts are different, and the way you are required to answer it also differs.

Overview of the B2 First (FCE) Listening Section

The first part of the FCE listening test has eight different short excerpts. This part comes with multiple-choice questions with three options each.  Students are expected to choose the correct option.

The second part is very different from the first part because it just contains one long recording. They place gaps in between the sentences which you have to fill. The gaps are up to 10; all you need to do is complete the sentences.

The third part comes with five short clips with the voice of different speakers and eight options to choose from. Students will be expected to match the right option with the speaker.

The final part is a dialogue which is most likely to be an interview between two people. This is usually the most challenging part because, at this point, students are already tired. You will be looking out for the opinions of the speaker. The fourth part of the listening section usually lasts for about three minutes.

To sail through this test, students must read the questions carefully and ensure they have an idea of what information they are expected to look for. Some of the words in the questions usually differ from what you may hear in the short clips, so you have to know the synonyms associated with those words.

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Tips on How to Do Well on the B2 First (FCE) Listening Section

The FCE exams are particularly for upper-intermediate English learners who want to use them for their work or study in universities. It is a recognized English qualification exam like IELTS and TOEFL worldwide.

It is not always easy when facing the FCE Listening test because not everyone can pay attention. You must develop your listening ability to improve your chances of sailing through the listening exam. If you live in an English-speaking country, you are exposed to the language, and it would not be difficult to improve your listening ability.

Here are some essential tips to remember to help you through the FCE Listening exam.

Tip 1: Pay Attention To Paraphrased Words

The words used in the questions usually differ from what you would hear. The relevant words will most likely be paraphrased. This means they are saying the same thing using different grammar, vocabulary, and words.

Tip 2: Be Cautious Of Distractors

While listening for the correct answer to the question, you should be aware that there are distractors in the recorded clips. These distractors are put in place to make you listen attentively and not just jump at any option as the right answer. You will need to focus on the recording, identify the paraphrased words, and identify the correct answer.

Tip 3: Enjoy Listening

The objective of the FCE Listening test is to help you improve your grammar but apart from this. It also improves your listening skills. If you want to develop this skill, you will need to enjoy listening just like you would when listening to music, watching a movie, or even a football game. You could understand something you enjoy listening to, and it would not seem difficult. You can develop your listening skills by listening to podcasts on various subjects. You can find podcasts online that are suited for people with different levels of the English language.

Tip 4: Identify Different Accents

There are many accents when it comes to the English language. Some accents are easier to understand than others. However, it is essential to learn how to understand all accents. When you get used to a particular accent, you may have difficulty understanding when you hear an unfamiliar accent.

There are some words you may know, but you would not be able to identify them when it is spoken in another accent. If you want to avoid this problem, you should take the time to understand the differences and types of accents.

It takes a lot of work and time to become an excellent listener. If you want to develop this skill, you must put in a lot of practice time. It is easier if you live in a country where English is spoken and study in an English-speaking country. If you do not live in an English-speaking country, you will have to do a lot of studying and learning before you can get a passing score on the FCE Listening test.

Also, note that the listening part is just one part of the Cambridge FCE exam. You will need to prepare for all the parts of the exam to scale through.

FCE Listening is one part that worries a lot of students. You must read all the questions and instructions carefully before picking answers. The tricky part about the test is the synonyms used to distract you. Take time to understand the meaning of the words before choosing any option. Also, remember that practice makes perfect. Work hard and practice a lot so you can succeed in the exams. Good luck with your exams.


Hopefully, this article on FCE’s listening test was of help to you. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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