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General tips to improve your listening skills


  • Accept the fact that you are not going to se this awesome English level test everything.
  • Keep cool when you do not understand – even if you continue to not understand for a long time.
  • Do not translate into your native language
  • Listen for the general idea of the conversation. Don’t concentrate on detail until you have understood the main ideas.


Tip no. 1: Beware of paraphrased words!

Remember that the relevant words used will be most likely paraphrased. What does this mean? It is some kind of a change in grammar, style, or the choice of vocabulary, while maintaining the original sense. This tells the examiners that the examinee is capable of understanding the content even in harder situations.

[paraphased words example]

Tip np. 2: Practice official listening tests!

Don’t forget that the practice is the foundation of your success. If you are not familiar with the content, and if you fail to repeatedly complete familiar with the task, there’s no a slightest chance you will feel comfortable and at ease and produce an answer that is at least satisfactory.


Tip no. 3: Don’t forget about different accents.

Remember that you will hear different people, who have different mannerisms and styles of speaking. It’s possible you got used to a particular accent and enjoy listening to it more than to others. That’s completely fine, as long as you simply know to recognize and understand different ones.

Tip # 4: Improve your skills by listening for pleasure


While it is true that practising with FCE past papers is useful, you should practise your overall listening skills by listening to things you enjoy in real life, such as music, films, radio or even podcasts. In that way, not only will you improve your listening skills, but you will also expand your vocabulary and grammar in areas you are interested in.

[podcasts list]


The introduction to your essay serves several different purposes. It presents the topic/question to the reader and puts it in context, introduces the topic points you are going to discuss and creates interest and anticipation in the reader.
All of this sounds like an awful lot of stuff to include, but with a little bit of practice you’ll find out that it is a fairly repeatable process. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll produce one great introduction after another without having to think about it too much.


After you finish your introduction, you can turn your attention towards the main topic paragraphs. These are called ‘the body’ of you essay. I always compare it to a hamburger where the introduction and the conclusion are the bread bun while the patty, lettuce, tomatoes and sauce are the body. You want to make your essay tasty so make sure that the body is just as great as your intro.
A couple of characteristics that are useful and important for every topic paragraph are the following:

Start with a topic sentence that makes it clear what the paragraph is about.
Always support your arguments with reasons and/or examples.
Avoid being too personal unless you give your own opinion at the end of the paragraph.


Finally, the conclusion of your essay is there to summarise and to give your opinion on the topic as well as to answer the question in the task (Which facilities should receive money from local authorities?). Your opinion can be nuanced and doesn’t have to be simply black or white as long as you can justify what you say.


Semi-formal to formal. Be objective and not too emotional. Avoid too expressive words (amazing, magnificent, disgusting).

Use various structures and vocabulary with more set phrases and idioms. Pay special attention to appropriate linking devices.

Better prepare than worry

There are some challenges which can make this examination a scary perspective. But there is also good news: the better you prepare, the more confident you will feel. Plus, you will have the knowledge needed, so… why worry?