A2 Key (KET) Listening
The five parts of the A2 Key Listening Section explained
There are five parts in the listening section of the Cambridge English A2 Key exam. You will have 30 minutes to complete this section. In each part, you must read and listen to some instructions, listen to the recording(s), and answer the questions. You will hear each recording twice. Here is a description of each part:
Part 1: Five short dialogues with five multiple-choice questions with pictures.
There is one question for each conversation. In each question, there are three pictures. You must choose the correct picture.
Part 2: Monologue with fill-in gaps.
There is an announcement or short speech. Only one person speaks. You must fill in five gaps with some missing information. One word or one number goes in each gap.
Part 3: One longer conversation with five multiple-choice questions.
There are three options for each question. You must choose the correct option.
Part 4: Five short dialogues or monologues with five multiple-choice questions.
There is one question for each dialogue or monologue. There are three choices for each question. It’s similar to part one but without pictures.
Part 5: One longer conversation with five matching questions.
There are five questions and eight different options. You must match each question to one of the options.
How to prepare for the exam
Listen to some English regularly
If you listen to ten minutes a day of English over a long time, you will see that understanding spoken English becomes easier and more automatic.
Use the right resources
Choose listening materials that are right for your level and –very importantly– that you like. For example, if your level is A2, you can search for A2-level resources: audiobooks, student’s book audio tracks, songs, YouTube videos, etc.
Read and listen, and listen
There are lots of resources where you have written text and audio. If you find understanding English very difficult, read and listen to a text at the same time, work on the vocabulary, and when you understand everything, then listen again but this time without the written text. This will help you learn to recognize English sounds, use context to guess the meaning of new words and expand your vocabulary.
Test your listening
Before taking the exam, practice exam tasks with our listening tests for some time. You will become more confident and will have better strategies when answering multiple-choice and gap-filling questions.
During the exam
Read the instructions and questions carefully
Use all the time you have to read the instructions and questions carefully. Make sure you understand the questions because they will tell you what the recording is about.
Don’t get nervous
Being calm is very important in a listening test. Some students panic because they think they don’t understand anything, and their stress makes the situation much more difficult.
Don’t worry; nobody in a listening exam understands everything. You don’t need to understand everything to answer the questions correctly. As you will see in my next tip, you may guess the correct answer only with a few words.
Be careful about the distractors
Most of the questions in the listening section are multiple-choice. You may hear that they mention more than one option in the recording, but you must pay close attention because only one option is correct; the other options are distractors. For example, check the following question:
Transcription: “We wanted to take a taxi, but we couldn’t find one, and the underground was closed, so we finally took the bus.”
Question: How did they go back home?
- a. Underground
- b. Bus
- c. Taxi
As you can see in the example, they mention the three options in the recording, but only one is correct. You should pay attention and try to guess which options are distractors. Of course, you will not understand everything from the recording, but just with a few words, you can know which option is correct. Take a look:
- Underground: if you can understand the words “underground” and “closed”, that’s enough. You know that this option is not correct.
- Bus: if you can understand the words “finally” and “bus” in the recording, that should make you think that this is probably the correct option.
- Taxi: If you hear “taxi” and then you hear “but”, it probably means that they didn’t take a taxi.
If you practice exam tasks before the exam, you will learn to distinguish the correct answer from the distractors.
Answer all the questions
Don’t leave any questions blank. If you don’t know which option is correct, answer the question anyway. Your answer may be right.
In Part 2 of the listening, don’t worry about the spelling. If you don’t know how to spell a word, write it the way it sounds.