How to Answer Listening Comprehension

Listening Comprehension Tips and Tricks

Listening Comprehension tests are a kind of standardized evaluations that have a spoken passage or conversation, followed by multiple-choice questions from the passage.

These tests are commonly used for 2 purposes:

Learning a Second Language (EFL / ESL), because is a great way to assess student’s language ability.  See ESL EFL Tests –  TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS  

Assess the level of comprehension high school students have over their own language.  See High School Tests

Assess language ability for purposes such as citizenship, such as the CELPIP Canadian Citizenship Test and for College and University such as the CAEL

Listening comprehension tests are important in the development of student’s learning process, because they center on a big part of the human life: the capability of effectively communicate thoughts and understand others’ ideas.

What’s evaluated on a Listening Comprehension Exam?

There are specifics areas that these tests assess:• The student’s ability to apply their knowledge of the language, often in everyday settings• The creation of mental representations of meaning;• Student’s grasp of the language

Tips to get through a Listening Comprehension Exam

These tests represent challenges very different from other kinds of test.On one hand, you can’t read the question over and over and think about it. On the other hand, when you listening to the audio, you have no idea of what you will be asked, so you may feel forced to memorize every single word you’re hearing t be ready for any question.These aspects are considered troubles for most students, but they aren’t really that problematic, you just have to learn how to use these aspects in your advantage.


Here are some tips to face a Listening Comprehension test and live to tell it:

1. Fight anxiety
When it comes to tests, anxiety is your greatest enemy. You need a calm mind to reflect on the questions. This is especially important in listening comprehension exams, where you have only one or two chances to listen to the text, so you must fully concentrate on what you’re hearing. Anxiety makes it harder to concentrate in the task you have in hands.To fight anxiety you need to be calm and confident of your own knowledge. Don’t concentrate on the difficulties, focus on your strengths and think about your future success.  More on test anxiety

2. Prepare yourself
This is a must in every kind of test: you have to study and prepare! That’s the only way to get a good grade. Set up a good studying routine, that includes a quiet place and the resources you’ll need to study comfortably, as well as a study plan.  How to make a study plan    Setting up a productive study space

The study routine for a listening comprehension test is a bit different, because you need to center your preparation on you listening abilities, which means that you will have to listen a lot of texts to practice. Listen to English TV, radio, online videos or whatever you can find. After listening to a short passage, think of questions that could be asked and answer them.

Another exercise is to take notes from an audio passage and try to identify the main idea.  Listening Comprehension Practice

3. Know your weaknesses
Everybody has areas where they have difficulties, this is normal. The thing is that you shouldn’t leave these areas as blank spaces – take note and fight them!For example, if you have difficulties understanding the accent, practice by playing an audio while reading the content, this gives you the opportunity to note the words with difficult pronunciation.The main thing isn’t identifying the problems, focus on finding the solution to those problems.

4. Focus on the meaning
Most people believe that the questions of a listening comprehension test are literary questions about the text. Some types of questions, such as those on the CELPIP, do ask for specific facts from the text. However, most questions are meant to assess whether the you are capable of understanding ideas and draw conclusions about what they heard.

This means that memorizing the text while listening is useless; if the test uses the tale of Sleeping Beauty, for example, no one is going to ask about how many pillows she used, the questions will be related to the context of the story and the ideas that it communicates, like for example, what is the real reason the evil fairy bewitched Aurora.So, forget about using your concentration to memorize every detail, instead concentrate on fully understanding the content of the text and its context.

Learning English?   See our Listening and Speaking English Workbook

Written by: Brian Stocker MA, Complete Test Preparation Inc.
Modified: October 28th, 2018 October 28th, 2018
Published: September 12th, 2018

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