Cambridge have a sample CAE listening test which you can take right now, for free! How nice of them.
You need to have Firefox or Chrome as your browser. If you use Internet Explorer or Safari, the first step is to download one of those. Just type 'Chrome download' into google - it will only take a few minutes.
The rest of this article will be a guide to the computer-based listening test (the one in the free test). It'll show you what all the buttons do and how to complete the test. If you just want to take the test, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click the 'Take a Free CAE Listening Test' button.
The first screen you see is this:
If you do the computer-based CAE exam, this screen will have your personal details on it. If it has someone else's name, put your hand up! But for this test it doesn't matter so just click 'My details are correct'.
Now check you can hear the sound. It says to use headphones, but if you are at home you can use your computer speakers. (It might be a good idea to take the test in exam conditions, though. Use headphones if you can.) When the sound is the right volume, click continue. (If you can't hear anything it might be because you aren't using Firefox or Chrome.)
You see this screen next. In the real exam you have to wait for the people from Cambridge to tell you to start. But today we can begin whenever we want. Freedom! Whoop!
The first two questions look like this. On the top right you can see that there's a timer. Good to know, I guess. (That's much more useful in the computer-based reading and writing tests.) You can't change the order the recordings are played in, and you can't control what gets repeated. (Everything is played twice.) But you can take a look around at the other questions. Use the bar at the bottom of the screen. Here I'm looking at question 21 even though the audio from question 2 is playing. Scandal!
At the bottom left you see a button called Review. This is like putting a question mark on paper-based tests. When you are doing a question and you aren't sure of the answer, click review.
That changes the shape around the numbers from squares to circles. In the following image you can see that I have answered questions 1 and 2, not answered 3, and marked 4 as 'come back later'.
In part 2 of the test you have to complete sentences. Click on the space and type in your answer. So this:
... becomes this...
Just a little joke there. That can't be the answer for several reasons (see my complete guide to the listening section for more help).
The last thing to mention is part 4. The questions and answers are in a grid like this:
You have to click on the right cell. So if you think speaker 1 was talking about 'lacking a sense of purpose' you'll click the third cell in speaker 1's column. The last thing you click gets highlighted in blue. Like so:
That's it! Of course, those aren't the real answers so don't copy! (Actually they might be the real answers but only by accident. I didn't listen to part 4...)
Now over to you.
(Update May 2016 - the test stopped working in Google Chrome, but still works in Firefox.)
>>>>> I've put the answers on this page. Don't look yet! <<<<<