Overview of the Listening Test

Content
The listening test booklet consists of four tasks. For each task, the test taker will listen to an authentic sound file and answer between 6 and 10 items. Each sound file will be played twice. The sound files will vary in terms of difficulty from intermediate to advanced and cover a wide range of general topics. There will be a minimum of 27 and a maximum of 32 items per test.

Task Types and Length
The listening test targets the test takers’ ability to:

  • identify the gist
  • identify specific information and important details
  • understand main ideas and supporting details
  • infer propositional meaning

The following methods of testing listening are used:

  • multiple choice
  • short answers
  • matching

Multiple Choice
In this test method test takers are required to complete a number of questions or statements based on the sound file. Test takers are provided with four possible solutions (A, B, C, or D) for each question or statement.

Short Answers
This test method requires the test taker to answer a number of questions or to complete a number of sentences based on the sound file. In both cases the answer should be written in the space provided using not more than 4 words.

Matching
In this test method there are a number of statements about the sound file. Each statement has been split into two parts. The test taker has to match the sentence beginnings with the appropriate sentence endings.

As the multiple choice test method is very familiar, the samples tasks and justifications wil lfocus on the less familiar methods of testing: short answers and matching. 

Link to sample listening tasks

Time
The listening test will take about 45 minutes.

Scoring and Results 
Each correct item will receive one point.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes will not be penalized under the short answer method. 
The total number of points a test taker achieves will then be converted to a result expressed in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) proficiency scale. 
What does this mean? The CEFR describes six levels of language proficiency from basic users to independent and proficient users.  The knowledge, competencies and skills of an independent or proficient user are relevant to government officials wishing to undertake practical training or academic courses where English is the medium of instruction. Therefore the DIFA TES focuses on the following three CEFR levels:

  • B1, or Independent User: Intermediate
  • B2, or Independent User: Upper-Intermediate
  • C1, or Proficient User: Advanced

Thus each test-taker will receive one of these six possible results:

  • Below B1
  • B1
  • B1+
  • B2
  • B2+
  • C1

Why use the CEFR? The CEFR is an internationally recognised framework of language descriptors that makes it easy to understand what level a test taker is at in terms of their reading, listening, writing and speaking abilities. 
You can find out more about the CEFR by following these links:

http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/CADRE1_EN.asp
http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/eduaction/elp-reg/Source/Key_reference/CEFR_EN.pdf

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