Are you taking the Cambridge CAE exam soon? Many students struggle with the Listening Module, particularly with Part 4 of the test. The following CAE Listening Part 4 tips will help our students prepare for this section of the test.

CAE Listening Part 4 Tips
I said, “Do you know how to master CAE Listening Part 4?”

Cambridge CAE Listening Part 4 Tips

Before reading the CAE Listening Part 4 Tips, let’s take a look at what Listening Module Part 4 is.

CAE Listening Part 4 Overview

Type of task: Multiple matching

Number of questions: 10

Length: 3-4 minutes

Format: Five short monologues (about 30 seconds each). These are labeled “Speaker 1, Speaker 2, etc.

There is a theme that connects all of the speakers. For example, everyone will be talking about where they were during a recent earthquake, or how they feel about technology, etc. In the example below (which is the official CAE sample test for 2017), the speakers are talking about changing jobs.

CAE Listening Part 4 Tips
From Cambridge ESOL. 

Students have two tasks: Task One and Task Two. In the example below, the tasks are:

  • Task One: choose the reason the speaker gives for changing jobs
  • Task Two: choose what each speaker feels about their new job

Students select the correct choice from a list of eight possible answers (listed A-H).

Scoring: Each correct answer earns the student 1 mark.

CAE Listening Part 4 Tips

Here are some important tips to remember for CAE Listening Part 4:

Find the theme

Remember that there is a theme with all of the recordings. The theme will be written on the top of the paper, so you will know the theme before the recording begins.

Use the time that the recording reads the instructions to think about the theme. Predict what language and ideas you could hear related to this theme. For example, in the theme above (changing jobs), what could some of the people talk about? You will probably hear some reasons for changing jobs: the company failed, the person got a better job, the person was unhappy with his or her boss, the speaker found a job that paid better . . . trying to predict themes will greatly help you improve your understanding of the recording.

Use your time wisely

Before the recording, read as much as you can of the answers (A-H). Remember that the speaker will probably NOT use the exact words, but will probably use a synonym. For example, “A” is “unfriendly colleagues.” The speaker will probably not use these words, but you might hear them describe a “rude coworker” or something similar.

Underline keywords

Underline keywords: words that will be associated with the recordings, words that might have synonyms, etc.

Know the format

Remember that you will hear the recording twice. Know what is required of you. Understand where to write your answers.

Actively listen and analyze

After each task, ask yourself what the speaker’s main idea, point, or feeling was.

Develop a strategy

For Part 4, here are two tasks, but you can begin with Task Two if you want. Try to take the test a few times using different strategies and see which one works best for you: there is no proven way that helps students score better. It all depends on your personal preferences.

Know what to expect from the speakers

The speech will be very informal. Expect to hear male and female speakers with various accents.

Become comfortable with “gist”

Part 4 of the Listening Module is focused on gist. Gist is the general meaning of something. Therefore, you do not have to understand every word . . . but you do have to understand the overall meaning of the speaker’s monologue. Ask yourself, “What was his/her point?”

Identify keywords that indicate change

Listen for keywords that will help you better understand the speaker. For example, conjunctions or linking phrases (such as “therefore,” “that’s why,” “for that reason,” “however”) will help you understand what the speaker is saying.

CAE Listening Part 4 Tips

How to Prepare for CAE Listening Part 4

Students often make the mistake of taking many practice tests to prepare for Listening Part 4. The truth is, the best practice is exposure to as many accents and dialects as possible. Listen to podcasts, watch TV shows, watch movies set in different parts of the world, etc. The more time you spend doing this, the better your listening skills will be. Here are some more CAE Listening Part 4 tips.

Listen to as many varied accents as possible.

Watch some movies that are set in the American South to learn some of this accent.

Movies such as “Fargo” are great for learning the Midwestern accent. This Crash Course in the Midwestern Accent is an excellent article; also check out How to Master the ‘Fargo’ Accent.

Shows like “The Wire” are great for the Boston accent.

The accents won’t always be from native English speakers. TED is a great website for students to find presentations made by non-native English speakers.

Understand how the test tries to trick you

Read the manuscript after taking practice tests and understand WHY each answer is the correct one.

Improve your English vocabulary and skills

A great way to improve your English vocabulary (and therefore your listening skills) is to improve your understanding of phrasal verbs: these are commonly used in Cambridge exams. Be sure to learn some useful idioms and expressions as well.

Do you need help on other parts of the test? Check out our tips for improving with the articles Cambridge CAE and FCE Listening Part 2 Practice + TED’s “Why Videos Go Viral” and California Facts + Cambridge Listening Part 2.

CISL has provided Cambridge ESOL instruction for over 25 years and is a proud testing centre. Visit our site to learn more about our intensive CAE and FCE classes, and watch the video below to hear how our former student, Diogo, benefited from the Cambridge Exam. 

CISL San Diego Cambridge Testimonial – Diogo from Converse International School on Vimeo.