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MUET listening test guide and tips

The MUET listening test focuses on evaluating your ability to understand spoken English and interpret ideas, opinions, ideas and arguments. We’re here to help you navigate through it with an in-depth guide to the test.

MUET listening test

The MUET listening test is sometimes considered the most challenging of the MUET exam sections. This is partly due to the format of the test and the fact that it evaluates your English comprehension abilities in different contexts at speed. While it is challenging, there are ways that you can prepare successfully for test day. We guide you through the MUET listening test format, structure, scoring, questions and top preparation techniques.  


What is the format of the MUET listening test?

What does the MUET listening test evaluate?

How is the MUET test scored?

How are the MUET listening test questions structured?

What are some examples of MUET listening test questions?

What are the top tips for the MUET listening test?


What is the format of the MUET listening test?

The MUET listening test will take you 50 minutes to complete and has five parts. You need to answer 30 multiple-choice questions, and you are marked out of a total mark of 90. The MUET listening test accounts for 25 per cent of your total MUET exam score and is weighted the same as the writing, reading, and speaking tests. 


It’s also worth noting that the listening test is the final portion of the exam that you will write on test day, after reading and writing. Don’t forget that the speaking component of the exam is done before the other three sections. Sometimes this can be from a few days to a few weeks beforehand. 


What does the MUET listening test evaluate?

The MUET listening test is about testing your understanding and comprehension of spoken English in different contexts. The test is designed to evaluate whether you have a level of English that would allow you to succeed at the university level, from attending lectures to socialising with others. Some of the key skills that the MUET listening test examines are:


  1. Comprehension of spoken English in different contexts

  2. Mastering different levels of language complexity and content

  3. Recognition of main ideas

  4. Recognition of supporting details

  5. Paraphrasing

  6. Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information

  7. Interpreting the speaker/speaker’s views, attitudes and intentions

  8. Understanding the difference between fact and opinion

  9. Summarising information

  10. Drawing conclusions


Each part of the test will test some or all of these skills. The MUET listening test is structured to provide a balance to test your abilities and get an overall picture of your language proficiency. 


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How is the MUET test scored?

All of the MUET tests that make up the MUET exam use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) evaluation scale. Previously The MUET test was scored using six bands, but updated in 2021 to align with the CEFR scale. You can get more familiar with the CEFR scale and ratings by consulting the table and video below.


Aggregated score Band CEFR User
331 - 360 5+ C1+ Proficient
294 - 330 5.0 C1
258 - 293 4.5 B2 Independent
211 - 257 4.0
164 - 210 3.5 B1
123 - 163 3.0
82 - 122 2.5 A2 Basic
36 - 81 2.0
1 - 35 1.0


Band 5.0 & 5+ (score of 294 -360) CEFR C1 & C1+: Proficient

  • Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning

  • Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions

  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

  • Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

Band 4.0 & 4.5 (score of 211 - 293) CEFR B2: Independent

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.

  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.

  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Band 3.0 & 3.5 (score of 123 - 210) CEFR B1: Independent

  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.

  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.

  • Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar, or of personal interest.

  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Band 1.0, 2.0 & 2.5 (score of 1 - 122) CEFR A2: Basic

  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).

  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.



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How are the MUET listening test questions structured?

You will answer 30 questions divided over five sections. For each of these questions. You will have between 15 and 30 seconds to read the questions before the recording or sound clip plays. You will be listening to either a dialogue (two people speaking in conversation) or a monologue (one person speaking). The distribution of the audio recordings you’ll hear are:


  • Section one - Dialogue

  • Section two - Monologue (a speech / description about an experience / description of an item)

  • Section three - Monologue (three short monologues)

  • Section four - Dialogue 

  • Section five - Dialogue 


Each of the speakers in the monologues and dialogues is identified. That way you understand who is speaking and when. Let’s turn our attention to the different sections, the number of questions each has and the CEFR level for each:


Part Audio type Questions CEFR level
Part 1 1 dialogue between 2 people 7 MCQs with 3 options each A2-B1
Part 2 1 monologue speech/lecture/briefing 7 MCQs with 3 options each B1-B2
Part 3 3 monologues from 3 people 3 questions with 5 options each B2
Part 4 1 dialogue 7 MCQs with 3 options each B2
Part 5 3 dialogues between 2 people 6 questions, 2 per dialogue B2-C1


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What are some examples of MUET listening test questions?

You need to prepare for both familiar and unfamiliar topics to come up in the MUET listening test. For example, you may hear information on applying to university or studying, or you could listen to audio that discusses cosmetic surgery or animals. Some potential topics that may come up in the text include:


  • Environment 

  • Education

  • Personal and professional skills 

  • Tourism

  • Health

  • Careers

  • Sport

  • Family and relationships 


There are also various genres in which the audio may be structured. These can include:


  • Lecture

  • Briefing

  • Discussion

  • Interview

  • Telephone conversation

  • Announcement

  • Advertisement

  • News

  • Meeting

  • Documentary

  • Instructions


Examples of the style of questions you can be asked about in the MUET listening test audio dialogues and monologues include:


  1. Listen to the conversation between a radio DJ and a doctor. 

  2. Listen to this speech given by a businessman on how to build a successful career. 

  3. Listen to the advice given by a guidance counsellor on writing a good resume.


Let’s look at a specific example from part three of the MUET listening test. The instruction for the question is:


  1. Listen to the conversation between Amir, Alia and Molly about their class project. 


You are then asked to answer MCQ questions based on the conversation, such as:


  1. The students were keen to…

    1. Register of the project 

    2. Begin on time

    3. Help the homeless

  2. The students’ objective is to help the target group…

    1. Start a clothing shop 

    2. Get reading materials 

    3. Secure a job

  3. The package deal for the target group helps to…

    1. Improve their image 

    2. Change their appearance 

    3. Provide them with free clothes

  4. Reading helps the target group…

    1. Be more learned 

    2. Raise awareness 

    3. Get information about jobs 

  5. Amir’s uncle may be described as…

    1. Generous 

    2. Resourceful 

    3. Hardworking 

  6. The person in charge of designing the proposal is…

    1. Amir 

    2. Alia 

    3. Molly


You will also hear more formal language in the case of speeches or lectures and informal language in conversations or interviews. Be prepared for both. For each part of the test, you get a certain amount of time to read the questions and possible answers before the audio is played. These are listed below:


Section Reading time
Part 1 30 seconds
Part 2 30 seconds
Part 3 15 seconds
Part 4 30 seconds
Part 5 15 seconds each dialogue


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What are the top tips for the MUET listening test?

Getting ready for the MUET listening test can seem like a very difficult task. However, if you apply and practice some key techniques, your experience on test day will be much more rewarding. You need to consider the three distinct phases of the test that apply to all parts and sections. These are:


  • Pre-listening 

    • Read the questions

    • Identify topics

    • Highlight the key phrases and ideas

  • First listening

    • Listen to key details 

    • Write down important information 

    • Practice active listening 

  • Second listening 

    • Verify and confirm the information 

    • Check for the information you missed 

    • Answer the questions 

    • Check your answers


Let’s take a closer look at some of the skills and techniques that can help in more detail. 


Practice active listening

Firstly, you must practice your English listening skills. But, this should not be passive. You must listen for ideas, opinions, arguments, main points and positions. This is known as active listening. You must understand the main point made. Remember that with the MUET test, you get an idea of what you will hear by reading the question, which is half the job done. 


Take notes when listening

Writing down what you hear will help you commit words and vocabulary to memory so that it becomes more familiar to you over time. Listen for keywords and phrases. Highlight these in the questions and answers of the paper. Actively writing will also assist you with the MUET writing test. 


Pay attention to the detail

When listening pay attention to both what is said and how it is said. You can tell a lot from tone and emphasis, as well as the words used. It can give you a clue as to whether someone agrees or disagrees with a point, or is happy or sad. Listen carefully to the content as it relates to the overall topic, it’ll give you a clue as to the ideas proposed. Use what you already understand and know about the topic to inform your answers. 


Read up on topics

We know this is the listening test, but being informed about many topics and ideas is important. It’ll give you a better context for understanding and helps to build your English language knowledge. In addition, it’ll allow you to become familiar with ideas you may not have thought of that could be part of the test. 


Test techniques

On test day, you can adopt some simple steps to make it easier to answer questions. Read over the questions you will need to answer. Identify key themes, topics, ideas and words. Make sure to highlight these. Take your time when listening to the audio. If you can’t hear it properly, ensure you alert the examiner or supervisor. Check your answers carefully, and don’t rush. You’ll have enough time to finish. 



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