B2 Business Vantage (BEC Vantage) 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.
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 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.
B2 Business Vantage (BEC Vantage)
Listening Part One – Twelve points.
You have three notes/forms with missing information. You listen to three telephone conversations or messages. The task is to complete the three forms with the information from the listening. You will hear each conversation or message twice before you hear the next question.
Introduction Length – Almost one minute.
You can download an example of a complete Listening test provided by Cambridge English here. The audio file for Part One is available here.
You need to know how we say letters, numbers, and dates in part one. This is not the only information you will need to write, but it is the part you can really prepare for.
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?
Check you know how to write dates, I mean in words of course. The rules are fairly easy, 1st 2nd 3rd then 4th onwards until 21st 22nd 23rd 24th and so on until 31st.
Read the context. This is usually in line two for each conversation. In this task, it is important to understand the context of what you will hear.
Scan the notes/form. For each question try to understand what you are listening for; a reference number, a surname, a date, a day, a telephone number, an amount, an object, a place, a name, a department.
Highlight the keywords. The keywords will be names, adjectives or prepositions which will either show you what you are listening for, for example, Please call Mrs Smith on ………. means you need to write a date or which will help you find the answer in the listening, for example, He said the old………needs to be replaced. Old is the keyword which describes the answer in the listening.
During the first listening, listen for the keywords or synonyms of the keywords and write down any information you hear related to them. Remember that the answer might come before you hear the keyword.
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. You should try to reduce the information you have to the specific one or two words which make the answer.
You can use part of the ten minutes allowed at the end of the test to help you with this reducing the words in part one, it is more important to write what you hear.
B2 Business Vantage (BEC Vantage)
Listening Part Two. Ten points.
There are two sections. In each section, you listen to 5 short recordings. You have one general question, for example, decide what the speaker’s profession is or decide what difficulty the speaker is having. There are 8 possible answers. The task is to listen and chose the answer that is related to each listening. You will hear each section twice.
Introduction length for Task and Section one – 1 minute 5 seconds. Introduction Length Section two – 50 Seconds.
The audio file for Part Two is available here.
Guide to the Task
I won’t lie to you. This is definitely the most difficult part of the test. It is short and quick.
The task looks like you have to read and listen and make decisions all at the same time, and once it is finished you have to do it all again. Plus you have to avoid choosing one of the three answers which are completely wrong.
The (only) good news is that each section is introduced separately so you have some “extra” reading time and will be able to read each section individually.
Read the context and the task.
Read the A-H options.
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 listening starts. It might be difficult to do this the first couple of times but with practice it is possible.
When you listen don’t read. Listen to try and understand the context and listen for the words you wrote. When the short monologue is finished there is a pause of about 5 seconds before the next one starts. Use the pause to choose one or two of the A-H options. It is better to keep an open mind and choose two options because the next monologue comes immediately.
During the second listen, confirm which of your two choices are correct.