Read in less than 4 minutes (excluding listening tasks)


In Advanced Listening Part 2, there are eight sentences about a recording, each with a gap. The sentences focus on specific information mentioned in the recording. You’ve got to complete the gap with an appropriate word or short phrase from the recording (writing down the EXACT words you hear). The good news is that the questions follow the order of information in the recording. The bad news is that spelling matters. If you get the right word, but the wrong spelling, then you get 0 marks. This part of the test is generally known to be a bit of a beast, but don’t despair! With the right strategy, it’s possible to do well in it.



Have you ever heard the story of St. George who killed the dragon? There are many different versions of the myth, but basically, according to folklore, St George rescued a princess who was about to be eaten by a very scary dragon. It’s said he slayed the dragon by cutting off its head.

The verb ‘to slay’ has two meanings in English. 1) It means ‘to kill something’, e.g. St George slayed the terrible beast. 2) It also means to be very good or impressive, e.g. With our help, you’re going to slay the examiners with your language skills. The latter meaning is informal.

In case it isn’t obvious, in this analogy – you’re St. George and Listening Part 2 is the dragon! To help you in your quest, you’ll need to key skills: PREDICTION and DICTATION.

Let’s look at an example:


St. George was a very ______ man!


To predict this answer, is to guess what kind of word could go in the gap. (It’s going to be adjective and it’s probably something like ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’.) To dictate the answer, is to hear which word is used in the recording, and write it down it correctly. To ace Listening Part 2, you have to be good at both.



As you prepare for Listening Part 2, try to get used to predicting answers before you listen. In the exam, you’ll have 45 seconds BEFORE you listen to the recording. The idea is that you use this time to read each question, underline the key words, and try to think what the most likely answer is.You don’t have much time to do this so just write down what comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or not – it’s just that predicting the answer helps you get ready for the recording and the kind of thing you should listen out for.


Look at this question from a Listening task. Write down three words that could complete the sentence.

Molly stopped at the top of the hill to have some ______ and look around.


Now listen to the recording:


Did you guess correctly? That’s right, she mentioned ‘a swig (= sip) of water‘.


Look at another question from a Listening task. Which of the following options could fit in the gap: a. noun   b. gerund   c. verb   d. adjective

Pollution, coastal developments and _________ are the conventional threats to marine life.


Now listen to the recording:


Did you guess the correct part of speech? It’s a trick question! It could be a noun or a gerund, but in this case it was a gerund (i.e. a noun in -ing form). He said that overfishing was a threat to marine life.


Let’s try an exam-style task which will test your powers of prediction!


 TASK ONE: Listen to Conrad talking about a new scanner at the airport.

Before you listen, try to predict what the answers could be.


  • The body scanner will be able to tell if someone has (1) ______ a weapon on their body.

  • The scanner will be able to (2) ______ private parts of the body.

  • The technology was first invented to help pilots flying in (3) ______.

  • The scanner will show if someone has a (4) ______ fitted in their heart.

  • Operators of the machines will be carefully checked to ensure they are not being (5) ______.

  • Air passengers will no longer need to be physically checked by (6) ______.

  • The scanner can see through all (7) ______.

  • The scanner has enabled officials to see (8) ______ that have been hidden in lorries at ports.


Have a look at my predictions. Are they similar to yours?

1. hidden / 2. block / 3. bad weather / 4. special device / 5. creepy / 6.officials / 7. materials / 8. drugs or people


Now listen twice and write down the words or short phrases that you hear. (Answers at the end of the post.)





Like with most things in life, practice makes perfect!  To practise writing from dictation is a great way to improve your English generally and prepare specifically for Listening Part 2. You can get a lot by listening to the spoken version of a text as you’ll hear natural pronunciation and intonation, as well as some bonus vocabulary items, phrasal verbs and idioms. I personally think dictations are extremely useful, but not everyone agrees. So, let’s try it out and you can decide for yourself whether it could help you to improve your listening and spelling skills.


 TASK TWO: Listen to Nicolle talking about her trip to a Colombian coffee plantation. 

Listen twice and dictate the short phrases that you hear. (Answers at the end of the post.)

“I thought my days in Colombia’s coffee region would begin with a (1) ____ ____ ____ and perhaps a maize cake and some (2) ____ ____ while I gazed at the mist rising in the valleys. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We were up at the (3) ____ ____ ____ and marching up the mountain before I was really awake. Once we’d reach a (4) ____ ____ ____ the instructors from the nearby town, attached a wire to the cable above me in a (5) ____ ____ as I wondered how safe the clips were. They assured me that everything was fine and before I knew it I was speeding across the coffee plantations, held on only by the aforementioned, (6) ____ ____ and ____. Of course, they were right and I had the ride of my life and remained (7) ____ ____ ____.”



TASK THREEListen to Bianca’s opinions on childhood. 

Listen twice and dictate the nouns that you hear. Please note that these words are designed to challenge your dictation skills. Don’t worry about their meaning. Focus instead on their spelling! (Answers at the end of the post.)

“Well, according to a recent newspaper report, childhood is dying. So those cheeky little (1) _____ I saw challenging each other to throw their school bags on top of a bus-stop must have been a (2) _____ of my imagination. Or perhaps they were making a political stand against the (3) _____ of the formal (4) _____ . Who knows? Apparently a group of adults do. Academics and professionals have put their (5) _____ to a letter, subsequently championed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper and the Tory Party, articulating the fall of childhood innocence. My heart is with the (6) _____ of this campaign, but I worry that it loses sight of practical wisdom.”



Let’s try another exam-style task, this time testing your powers of dictation!


TASK FOUR: Listen to Graphic Designer Alec Zaki talking about his job. 

Listen twice and write down the words or short phrases that fit best according to what you hear. (Answers at the end of the post.)

  • Although Alec has worked for other companies, he likes being (1) _______.

  • To maximise his possibility of success, Alec became an expert in a variety of (2) _______.

  • There have been some corporate jobs that Alec has done (3) _______ for.

  • Alec created 3D virtual sets for a show that featured (4) _______ computer game releases.

  • The TV show took place on (5) _______ that resembled a game controller.

  • Unlike most (6) _______ Alec entered the field by way of television.

  • Alec wanted to stand out in college because he was (7) _______ than the other students.

  • Alec is now a freelancer because of (8) _______.



Are you up for a challenge? A final battle against the dragon?


If you accept the challenge, then listen to the recording (as often as you’d like) and write down as many nouns as you can hear. Put your answers in the comment section below and we’ll see which of our viewers can come up with the most correct answers. Do you think it could be you? Good luck!




Task one

  1. concealed
  2. screen out
  3. fog
  4. pacemaker
  5. voyeuristic
  6. security guards
  7. natural materials
  8. illegal immigrants

Task two

  1. freshly ground coffee
  2. scrambled eggs
  3. crack of dawn
  4. fair way up
  5. casual manner
  6. dubious clips & cables
  7. in one piece

Task three 

  1. scamps
  2. figment
  3. formalities
  4. curriculum
  5. signatures
  6. sentiment

Task four

  1. self-employed / his own boss
  2. multimedia skills
  3. animations
  4. new and upcoming
  5. a spaceship
  6. 3D animators / people in animation
  7. (a bit) older
  8. the (lousy) economy