Listening Proficiency Descriptors

Pre–Level 1
(1–41)
Although students scoring at Pre-Level 1 may have some limited listening skills in English, they have provided insufficient evidence that they possess the skills typical of Level 1 students.
Level 1
(42–66)
The understanding of students at Level 1 typically is limited to simple common words and learned phrases related to immediate needs (e.g., greetings). They have little ability to comprehend even short utterances.

Sample Question

Level 2
(67–81)
Students at Level 2 typically have the ability to understand brief questions and answers relating to personal information, the immediate setting, or predictable areas of everyday need.

They understand short conversations supported by context, but usually require careful or slowed speech, repetitions or rephrasing. Comprehension of main idea and details is still incomplete.

They can distinguish common time forms, some question forms (wh-, yes/no, tag questions), most common word-order patterns, and most simple contractions but may have difficulty with tense shifts and more complex sentence structures.

Sample Question

Level 3
(82–91)
Students at Level 3 typically are able to understand most discourse about personal situations and other everyday experiences, including conversations with basic academic and/or occupational subject matter.

Students at Level 3 typically can understand most exchanges which occur at a near-normal to normal conversational rate; main ideas and details are generally grasped, although comprehension is sometimes affected by length, topic familiarity, or cultural knowledge.

Level 3 students are able to understand different time frames and usually understand utterances using the perfect tenses, conditionals, modals, passives; they are aware of cohesive devices but may be unable to utilize them to enhance comprehension.

Colloquial speech may cause difficulty. The student is able to detect emotional overtones but cannot interpret mood, tone, or intent reliably.

Sample Question

Level 4
(92–99)
Students at Level 4 are able to understand linguistically complex discussions, including academic lectures and factual reports.

Though there may be occasional trouble with colloquialisms, idiomatic language, or rapid native speech, they are able to use context clues to aid comprehension and have acquired an understanding of most discourse markers.

They have acquired the ability to comprehend implications, inferences, emotional overtones, differences in style, and shifts in register.

Level 4 students understand almost all reductions, elisions, and blends in the spoken language.

Sample Question