C1 Business Higher (BEC Higher) Listening
30 questions, 1 point per question.
30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer answers to an Answer Sheet.
25% of the exam.
Listening and understanding in English are not always easy but this is the easiest skill to practice. You can watch TV, listen to the radio or use the resources recommended here.
You can prepare for this exam paper by understanding the tasks. Students usually feel that listening tests are difficult because there is nothing concrete, nothing physical to help you. Well, I disagree, let me show you what I mean.
The answer is in the question!
The single most important thing you can do to improve your score in this test is to read as well as listen. I always tell my students if you read the question you can hear the answer better, At first they think I am mad and tell me they don’t have enough time. However, after I make them practice the test three or four times, they “find” the extra time. Why? How? I’ll explain.
The first time I do practice test, my hardworking serious students listen carefully to the instructions, the rest stare out of the window or write a “to do” list for after the lesson. The second time, only one or two listen, the rest are not even looking at the question paper anymore and are possibly thinking about lunch. By the third practice test and especially when they have had bad results in the first two tests, students know the task and they do not listening and they read, they read and analyse the questions instead.
The test recordings explain the task, they actually do an example question and they also pause to give you some reading time before each question. That gives you plenty of time to read before the listening starts. My students learn to use this valuable time, and they have a real advantage.
For the four parts of the test, I will recommend what and how to read but is essential that you use the introduction time to read, highlight, predict, and to make notes. The procedures I will share with you are based on you already knowing the task required.
Be careful. This test is well designed. You will probably hear all or most of the information shown in the pictures, graphs or sentences. The examiners are trying to distract you away from the right answer here. You need to listen carefully for negatives, for tenses and the specific information.
C1 Business Higher (BEC Higher)
Listening Part One. Twelve points.
You are given twelve sentences or twelve notes each with some information. You will hear a monologue lasting between two to three minutes. The task is to complete the sentences or notes with the missing information. You will need to use up to three words or a number. The answers are in the same order as you hear them in the listening.
Introduction to task. 1 minute and 20 seconds. 20 seconds checking time at the end.
You can download an example of a complete Listening test provided by Cambridge English here. The audio file for Part One is available here.
Read the sentences or notes and identify what you are listening for. Is it a place, a product, an object, a name (of a course, a department, programme), an amount of money/time.
Highlight the keywords which are relevant to the missing information. The keywords can be just before or after the space for the missing information but also can be at the beginning of the sentence or be the verb. They could also be articles or prepositions.
During the first listen, focus on hearing the subject of each space as a minimum. Listen for the keywords as they will be used in the same form or there will be a synonym of them used.
Write what you hear in relation to each space. Pay close attention to the use of plurals and negatives.
When the listening moves on, you should do the same.
During the second listen, you should know “where” the answer is in the monologue so be ready.
Correct, change or add any information to what you wrote during the first listen.
Check it corresponds with the keywords immediately before and after the space. Again pay close attention to plurals and negatives.
C1 Business Higher (BEC Higher)
Listening Part Two. Ten points.
There are two tasks based on 5 short recordings. You have to match each short recording with one of eight possible answers in two different categories at the same time. You will hear the recording twice.
Introduction to task – One minute and ten seconds.
Part Two in the B2 Business Vantage exam is difficult enough but here you have to listen for two things at the same time!
So let’s start with the good news. In general, the order of topics the listening is the same as the order of the tasks. This means you can listen and identify possible answers from task one, then move on to the possible answers in part two. However, the bad news is that this means that one of the answers in each task is either quite short or not explicitly mentioned in the monologue and therefore difficult to hear.
You can download the audio file for Part Two here.
Read the context and the two tasks.
Read the A-H options for task one.
Write any vocabulary you think is related to the option. If you only write one word that is actually good. This could be a synonym of a word in option or a verb/nouns often used in this context.
Identify any answers which look similar and think about the difference between them. For example, English teacher and Language trainer look very similar but an English teacher could work in a secondary school and a language trainer could work for companies and might not even teach English.
If you don’t understand vocabulary in one of the options, then don’t panic. Focus on the words you know.
You should be able to read all of the different options before the real listening starts. It might be difficult to do this the first couple of times but with practice it is possible.
When you listen look at the eight options in task one and your notes. Write the number of the question next to any of the options you hear discussed.
When you think the monologue moves on to Task two, or when you have two possible answers for Task One, focus on the eight options in Task Two and write the question number next to possible answers.
When each short monologue is finished there is a pause before the next one starts. Use the pause to reduce your choices to two of the A-H options if possible. For example, you may have chosen an option which subsequently was rejected by the speaker. It is better to keep an open mind and choose two options because the next monologue comes immediately and you do not have a lot of time to make a definite decision.
During the second listen decide which of the options you chose is correct. Try to focus on which one is wrong because there are often “distractors”, in each listening text. These are words or phrases which sound similar to one answer but have small differences making them incorrect.
When you listen the second time you show know “where” in the listening, the information is, so you can listen to the specific detail to decide if the option you chose is correct. Sometimes this can be small as a negative in the sentence which is difficult to hear when you first listen.
Focus also on listening for the option in the Task which is talked about the least as this is the most difficult to hear.
When deciding, choose the option that is the best overall answer, the answer that is closest to what you heard. The listening will not always have clear and concrete information which gives you the answer 100%.