B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Listening

30 questions, 1 point per question.

30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer answers to an Answer Sheet.

25% of the exam.


There are 4 parts, 30 questions and it takes 30 minutes. You also have an extra ten minutes to transfer your answers onto the official answer sheet. You receive 1 point for each correct answer.

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.

Guide to the Listening part of the Exam – 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 a 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 listen 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 to read 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.

B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)

Listening Part One

The Task

You have to choose the correct answer from three sentences/pictures/diagrams/graphs. There are eight listenings, you will receive one point for each correct answer. You will hear each one twice, before the next question.

Introduction Length One minute.

This is the easiest part of the test because the information you hear is the shortest. The listening will probably talk about all of the three options, sometimes if you are lucky it will only talk about two.

You can download a sample of a complete Listening Test provided by Cambridge English here and the audio file for Part One here.


  • Read the question first! This is obvious but often students look at the pictures first. Don’t! You will lose time.

  • Underline or focus on the question word, this is what you need to know. Is it who, when, where? Underline the grammar words so you know the context. For example, is the question in the past present or future?

B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Listening Part One
  • During the first listen, listen and look at the pictures. Try to eliminate one incorrect option, and select a possible correct answer.
  • During the second listen, make a decision, or confirm your decision. You know the order they talk about each option because you have listened to it once already. Listen for negatives and synonyms of the words in the question. Often the last part of the listening confirms the answer – because you know when it is coming, be ready and focus on it.

B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)

Listening Part Two

The Task

In this part of the exam, you have to add ONE word, number or letter to some notes or a form. You will receive one point for each correct answer The notes/form is shown on the exam paper, you must complete it. The information is given in a conversation, you will hear it twice. The answers are in the same order as the questions.

Introduction length – about 45 seconds

You can download the audio file for Listening Part Two here.


  • You need to know your numbers and letters for this part because you need to understand and write them.

  • Check you know how we say 111, 1111, 11 1111, 111 111, 1 111 111 in English. You do not have to write the words for these, but you need to be able to hear and understand them. Use the guide in the article section of this website to help you.

  • Check you know the pronunciation of letters. This will be useful for the spelling of names or for reference numbers. Are there any letters which are pronounced differently to English in your language, G & J, for example?


• If you are a fast reader, read the context given in the instructions. This can help a little to prepare you for the listening, but it is not essential.

• Scan the notes/form. For each question try to understand what you are listening for; a number, an amount of money, a surname, a date, a telephone number.

• During the first listen, make an attempt to write something for each space. When the conversation moves to the next question, you should too. Write what you hear, if it isn’t exactly right or looks strange don’t worry. If you don’t understand anything for one part and can’t write anything, don’t panic, try to remember “where” it was in the listening and concentrate on the next question.

• During the second listen you have an advantage, you now know more or less where the answers are. Your job is to confirm or to correct your first answer. Did they say thirteen or thirty? Was the surname Benet or Bennet? If you missed an answer completely during the first listen, be ready for it this time, and write what you hear.


B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Listening Part Two

Now that you understand how to maximise your score for the B1 Preliminary Listening Part 1 & 2, you are now ready to start learning how to prepare to succeed in Part 3 & 4.

If you prefer to focus on improving your score in a different part of the B1 Preliminary exam, then go to Reading, Writing, or Speaking.