Overview of the Listening Test

Content
The listening test will contain four tasks and a minimum of 25 items. For each task the test taker will hear the soundfile twice and answer a number of questions related to the file in the test booklet, usually between 6 and 8. The soundfiles will vary in terms of difficulty from intermediate to advanced and in terms of topic from general to specialized.

Types of listening behaviour
The test items target the test takers’ ability to:

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

Test Methods
In the test the following methods of testing listening may be used:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Note Form
  • Multiple 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.

Note Form
This 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 test taker should write the answer in the space provided using not more than 4 words. There is a sample note form task on the website.

Multiple 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 beginnings of sentences with the appropriate sentence endings. There is a sample multiple matching task on the website.

Time
The listening test will take about 45 minutes.

Scoring and Results
Each correct item will receive one point, irrespective of its level of difficulty. Mistakes of spelling, punctuation and grammar will not be penalized under the note form 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. However, the current MFA test will only target three of them:

  • 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 four 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/education/elp/elp-reg/Source/Key_reference/CEFR_EN.pdf