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Tips on preparing for the listening section of the UNIcert II Exam

To improve your listening skills you should try and listen to as many types of English as possible, not just one. For example:

  • films
  • television comedies
  • documentaries
  • songs and pop radio programmes
  • news headlines

...are all good sources of REAL English, especially if it is what you like to listen to. However, you should also plan some of your study time for listening regularly to sources of English of the type usually found in the HS exam.

These include commentary and discussion programmes or news programmes, where often more than one person is speaking,  and where there is comment or interview at a rather complex level.

BBC Radio is one good  source for these, in particular at Radio 4 or World Service. To listen to past programmes, go to "Listen again" in the case of Radio 4, or in the case of World Service, go to Find a Programme.

For more intensive vocabulary and pronunciation practice go to BBC Learning English. If you click on "Words In The News" you can read the story and listen to it at the same time. Difficult vocabulary will be repeated and explained seperately. The listening texts here are, however, slightly easier than the more authentic texts found in the exam.

On the  BBC  you will hear many accents but obviously mostly British. For practice listening to American sources, you may like to listen to NPR Radio. For example, you can browse there "NPR Worldwide" archive, in particular, "All things considered".

In the UNIcert II exam (formerly "HS-Exam") you may hear American OR British speakers, or even a combination of the two., or peakers from other English speaking parts of the world. Therefore, practice listening to different accents.