So you’re taking the Cambridge C1 Advanced exam? If so, you’ll know that you have four sections to prepare for: speaking, reading and use of English, writing and listening.

Some people find the listening section tricky, as there are a number of different accents and expressions used.

We want to help you feel more confident and prepared for this part of the exam. In this post, we’re going to show you how to get the best score possible in the listening section of the C1 Advanced.

Let’s get stuck in!


What is the C1 Advanced listening test like?


There are four parts in the Cambridge C1 Advanced listening test. In total it will take about 40 minutes to complete. You will always hear each recording twice and these could be on an array of everyday topics, such as travel, culture, sports and entertainment.

Read on to find out what you need to do in each part of the C1 listening test.


Part 1: Multiple Choice


The C1 Advanced Listening Part 1, also known as multiple choice, calls for you to listen to three different extracts and answer two questions for each. There are a total of six questions and each is worth one mark.

This part of the exam tests your ability to listen to short dialogues and show understanding of gist, detail, function, agreement, and courses of action. It also looks at your ability to pick up a speaker’s purpose, feelings, attitudes and opinions.

You will be given 15 seconds before each extract to read through the questions. You will hear each of the extracts twice.

Let’s look at an example of a Part 1 question below.

Cambridge C1 Advanced Listening Part 1 |  How to get top marks: Cambridge C1 Advanced English Listening Test | Oxford House Barcelona

Cambridge English C1 Advanced Sample Paper 1 (zip)


Tips for C1 Listening Part 1


1. Read the questions and answers very carefully before you listen. Underline any key words or phrases to help you pick out important information when listening.

2. Start thinking about possible synonyms of the key words before you listen.

3. Listen to the whole recording before making a decision – often it will contain distractor words that can throw you off.


Part 2: Sentence Completion


Known as sentence completion, C1 Listening Part 2 calls for you to fill in gaps with missing information. You will hear a monologue (which may be introduced by a presenter). You then have to complete 8 sentences with information heard on the recording – this could be either one word or a short phrase.

While the missing words should be exactly what you hear on the recording, the rest of the sentence is paraphrased.

Here is an example of a Part 2 question.

Cambridge C1 Advanced Listening Part 2 |  How to get top marks: Cambridge C1 Advanced English Listening Test | Oxford House Barcelona

Cambridge English C1 Advanced Sample Paper 1 (zip)


Tips for C1 Listening Part 2


1. Again, take advantage of the time before the listening begins to read through the questions and underline any key information.

2. Look at the parts of the sentence around the gap and think about the type of word you may need to listen out for e.g. a noun or adjective.

3. Write exactly the same word or phrase as you hear from the audio.

4. Watch your spelling – you will lose a point for any misspelt words in this section.


Part 3: Multiple Choice


Also known as multiple choice, for this part of the test, you will hear a conversation (usually an interview) between two or more speakers. You then have to answer 6 multiple choice questions – each with four options A, B, C and D – which test your understanding of the speakers’ attitudes and opinions.

Here is an example of a Part 3 question below.

Cambridge C1 Advanced Listening Part 3 | How to get top marks: Cambridge C1 Advanced English Listening Test | Oxford House Barcelona

Cambridge English C1 Advanced Sample Paper 1 (zip)


Tips for C1 Listening Part 3


1. Before the listening begins, read the questions carefully (not the answers yet) and underline the most important information – the recording will answer the questions in order, so it is important that you know when each question is being discussed.

2. Now skim read the answers and underline any key words.

3. As you listen, identify the question you are waiting to answer and the part of the conversation that contains the information you need.

4. Mark your answers as you hear the recording for the first time and listen closely to the relevant sections to confirm your answers during the second time.


Part 4: Multiple Matching


Called multiple matching, in the C1 Listening Part 4 you will hear five extracts from five different speakers. They will be talking about an everyday theme such as holidays, work and entertainment.

For each speaker there are two tasks, but eight possible answers. So after matching each speaker to the best option, you will have three unused answers left over.

The recordings each last for up to one minute and contain key words from several of the answers. Therefore, it’s vital that you listen carefully and wait until the end of each speaker before choosing an option.

Let’s take a look at a Part 4 question.

Cambridge C1 Advanced Listening Part 4 |  How to get top marks: Cambridge C1 Advanced English Listening Test | Oxford House Barcelona

Cambridge English C1 Advanced Sample Paper 1 (zip)


Tips for C1 Listening Part 4


1. Quickly read each task and options before the listening starts. Underline the important expressions in the headings for tasks one and two.

2. As you read through the possible answers, listen out for synonyms. It is highly unlikely that you will hear the exact words that are written on the question sheet in the recording.

3. You may hear information that leads you to several options, but pay attention to what you’re asked in the tasks. Do you need to identify a reason or feeling? The rest of the information could be there to distract you!

4. Don’t be afraid to choose more than one possible answer as you listen for the first time. Decide between them as you listen again.


Looking for further support?


If you’re interested in preparing for the C1 Advanced exam but don’t know where to start, get in touch with us today! We offer specific courses that are designed especially to help you get ready for the exam. Sign up now!

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Get stuck in (exp): start doing something with enthusiasm or determination.

Array (n): a range or variety of things.

Worth (adj): the value of something.

Pick up (pv): obtain, acquire, or learn something in an informal way.

Pick out (pv): select.

Throw off (pv): confuse or mislead someone.

Listen out for (pv): to pay attention to something.

Left over (exp): something that remains unused.


exp = expression

n = noun

adj = adjective

pv = phrasal verb

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