Structure of the CAE Listening Section

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Listening section on the Cambridge English: Advanced test features several different recordings and question types. Keep reading for more information on the structure and scoring system for this part of the test.

CAE Listening Section

The Listening paper on the Cambridge English: Advanced test (CAE) is a 40-minute section that measures a candidate's ability to comprehend spoken audio recordings. This part of the test contains 30 questions, which are spread across four parts.


The Listening paper primarily uses real-world excerpts as source material, with possible recordings including monologues, lectures, conversations, and radio broadcasts. Candidates will hear the recordings twice.

Part 1 of the paper requires candidates to listen to three brief excerpts of conversation and then answer two questions about each of the recordings. Part 2 features a 3-minute monologue, with candidates being required to complete a number of sentence-completion problems using information gleaned from the recording.

Part 3 involves a 4-minute recording of a conversation featuring multiple speakers. Candidates will be required to answer questions about both the information discussed in the conversation and the speakers themselves (attitude, tone, opinion, etc.). The section concludes with Part 4, which consists of a series of five, 30-second monologues all discussing a central theme. Two tasks are associated with this part.

Question formats on the Listening paper are diverse. In addition to the sentence completion tasks, candidates will also encounter multiple-choice and matching problems. Parts 1 and 3 contain six questions, Part 2 contains 8 questions, and Part 4 has 10 questions.


Candidates' performances are awarded marks based on a number of skills, such as the ability to listen for specific information as well as more abstract concepts such as identifying the attitude and opinion of a speaker.

Candidates will receive one mark for every correct answer. The number of marks is then converted to a number on the Cambridge English Scale. Your final score on the CAE is the average of the scores you received on each of the four test sections. Candidates who score at least 180 will meet the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) proficiency level and will be awarded a grade ranging from A (highest) to C (lowest). Candidates who score at least 160 will receive a B2 designation, which means that candidates did not meet CEFR requirements but will still receive a certificate.

Candidates who use the computer-based testing method will receive their scores about two or three weeks after the test, while those who opted for paper-based testing will have to wait four to six weeks.

CAE administrators will issue certificates to all those who complete the preceding scoring requirements. Certificates are sent to your exam center, which then forwards the certificate on to successful candidates. Should you pass the CAE, you should receive your certificate about three weeks after the release of your test results.

Studying for the CAE Exam

Candidates looking to succeed on both the Listening section and the rest of the CAE exam should consult the many courses available through's online catalog.

This CAE Test Prep & Study Guide is a good starting point, as it contains thorough reviews of each section of the test (including the Listening component) and includes engaging content such as self-checking quizzes and videos. also has these English Grammar Rules and Grammar Resources for ELL Students courses that reinforce your knowledge of important grammatical concepts that are essential to improving your English skills.

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