Guidance for teachers preparing candidates for Part 4 of the Listening paper of the Cambridge Proficiency Exam, with a worksheet taken from Mark Harrison's New Proficiency Testbuilder.

The task type

This is a listening comprehension task involving two multiple-matching tasks, both of which the candidate must complete. Candidates must listen to five speakers, and match each speaker with two options. These two options focus on different aspects of what the speakers say (for example identifying the main idea, interpreting attitudes).

In this part of the paper, candidates must complete the two tasks simultaneously. For each task, candidates must select the correct answer from a list of eight possible options. The options are usually short phrases, and there are three extra options that are not used.

The aim of the task is to test candidates’ understanding of the gist of several short related texts by identifying main options and interpreting context.

Text types

There are five recordings in this part, each recording lasts about 35 seconds. The recordings are monologues, and the speakers all talk about the same theme, e.g. their attitude to sport or a job they have done. The monologues are usually examples of spontaneous speech and will feature speakers with a range of ages and accents.

The focus of questions

In this part of the paper, candidates have to focus on two sets of questions simultaneously. This means they need to answer two questions for each speaker. The questions will focus on different aspects of what the speaker says. Understanding the main idea of what a speaker says is a key skill in this part of the exam, and candidates can expect to encounter the following types of questions:

A gist question focuses on the general idea that is communicated, rather than on specific detail.

main idea
A main idea question focuses on a speaker’s main point, rather than secondary or less important points.

A feeling question focuses on the feeling expressed by a speaker.

An attitude question focuses on the stated or implied way the speaker regards someone or something.

An opinion question focuses on a speaker’s stated or implied opinion.

Preparing candidates for the task

The key skill here is to listen for the main idea and eliminate any distractors. There is likely to be a distractor for each answer, so students need to listen closely to identify the meaning of what is said.

When preparing candidates for the task, you need to get them to listen to a range of ages, accents, and sexes.

Some tips you can share with students to prepare them for the task are as follows:

  • Remind students they will listen to five speakers, all talking about a similar topic. Look at the worksheet and read through the rubric. Ask students what ideas and topics they might expect to hear people discussing when it comes to summer jobs.
  • Ask students to underline the key words in options A–H. Then play the recording once and ask students to make notes of the main points each speaker made. Ask them to paraphrase these points. Do their paraphrases match any of the words they underlined in A–H?
  • Point out that if students hear the same word in the recording as in the list of possible answers, this does not necessarily mean the answer is correct. Explain that there are distractors in the script which will try to ‘trip them up’. They need to choose the answer with the same meaning, not just the same word.
  • Point out that the recording is played all the way through once, and then is played again. They can choose how to approach the multiple-matching task: They could focus on the more difficult questions the first time round, then complete the easier questions on the second listening. Or, they could try to complete both sets of questions on the first listening and confirm their answers on the second listening. There is no one correct way of approaching this task.



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