18 Jan 2021

About A2 Key (for Schools) Listening Part 1

In this post, I’m going to analyse A2 Key (and A2 Key for Schools) Listening Part 1.

You can find the A2 Key for Schools Exam Preparation Digital Poster, with so many useful links here:  https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/supporting-teachers/

Let’s start with the breakdown of this Part which appears in the A2 Key for Schools Handbook.  The handbook is available to download from the Cambridge Assessment English website, under Resources for Teachers.

As we can see, there are five questions and each question is worth one mark.

The questions are independent, unrelated. 

Candidates have to choose between three pictures, according to what they hear.

They are being tested on their ability to understand specific information.  No opinions or attitudes.

They will listen to ten different speakers (two speakers in each of the five conversations).

Some speakers will be easier to understand.  Some speakers will be more difficult.  The same as in real life!

This should be an easy part of the Listening Test.

As will all the Parts of the Listening Test, they will hear the audio twice for Part 1.   They should be able to do well in this part.  They don’t need to understand every word.

Let’s look at an example – Question 1 from A2 Key Sample Paper (which you can also download from https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/resources-for-teachers/) .

The pictures

The three pictures are related by topic.  Here, we can see three places.  (a museum, hairdresser’s, café).  

In the other questions, we have time, dates, weather and prices.  


Numbers (including times, prices, dates) are usually tested in A2 Key Listening Part 1, so give your students lots of practice with these.

Students should expect to hear all three pictures (places) mentioned in the audio.

The pictures might be referred to in any order, so students should not choose the first or the last picture they hear.  (I’ve seen this happen a lot in test situations!)

The question

Students must read the question carefully.  They must choose the picture that answers that question.  

(In this case:  Where will Claire meet Alex.).  *Some students may well choose the café picture because that’s where Claire is now!

Let’s have a look at the tapescript for this question.

The audio

As you can see, the first place that Claire mentions is the café, which is where she is now.

Alex is at the museum.  He suggests that Claire should meet him ‘here’ (at the museum).

And Claire is going to go to the museum, but only for an hour because she is going to the hairdresser’s at 2.

All three places are mentioned, but students have to remember the question.


When checking answers, ask students to suggest questions for the other pictures.

e.g.  Where is Claire now?  (the café – picture C)

Where is Claire going at 2 o’clock? (the hairdresser’s – picture B)

The answer sheet

While candidates are listening, they record their answers on the question paper.

After they have listened to all five parts, they have six minutes to transfer their answers to the answer sheet.

For this Part, they have to shade the circle below the correct letter (for the correct picture).  As with all parts, it is extremely important to give students practice in transferring their answers (and checking they have done this correctly).

Don’t forget to download the 2 Key for Schools Exam Preparation Digital Poster:  https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/supporting-teachers/.

And on that same page, I thoroughly recommend the Lesson Plans for Online Teaching.

In my next post, I’ll share some activities for engaging students with this part of the A2 Key (and A2 Key for Schools) Listening Test.

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