October 8, 2020

Band Score Breakdown: Listening

For our next post in this series, we will take an in-depth look at what CAEL band scores mean, by discussing each of the four components of the test. Our previous posts focused on reading scores and writing scores. Today’s post will focus on listening scores.

Reporting Scale: Listening

Band Score

Performance Summary


Expert – Fluent

Comprehends lectures as well as an experienced academic listener.



Understands lectures with apparent ease.



Understand information regarding both main ideas and supporting details. May lack some flexibility and miss some information.


High Intermediate

Processes most of the lecture for general ideas but may miss or misinterpret details. Overall understanding is still somewhat restricted.



Identifies the meaning of some unfamiliar terms but overall understanding is restricted and uneven.


High Beginner

Makes some sense sections of lectures by guessing but overall understanding is limited.


Low Beginner

Takes some meaning from individual words but overall understanding is sketchy and random.

As you can see from the chart above, there are key differences between each score level, especially when it comes to issues such as vocabulary, grammar, and structure. In order to improve your scores, and earn a higher score for each test component, we suggest adopting a comprehensive preparation strategy that includes the following:

Improving Your Scores

  • Create a daily study routine. As we outline in our Study Tips videos, taking even 5 minutes each day to focus on improving your English language skills can make an impact in your score. We have a comprehensive list of strategies for each test component, take some time to review these suggestions.
  • Take a free online practice test. This free test will give you a good idea of your current score level, and will allow you to focus on areas that you need to improve upon.
  • Attend a free online course. For each test component, we have hours of free online courses and webinars, hosted by a CAEL expert. These online courses are available live and on our YouTube channel.
  • Purchase additional CAEL study materials. We have created a wide range of study materials to help you prepare for your CAEL test, from additional practice tests, to Accelerate, our self-directed online study program, to CAEL Practice Test Plus, a complete practice test that includes sample responses and analyses.
  • Enroll in a CAEL preparation program. Contact your local test centre to see what preparation programs are available in your area and online.


  • Familiarizing yourself with the reporting scales for each test component will help you determine how to improve your scores, and what is required to achieve a higher score.
  • For information about the reporting scales for each test component, visit our results and scoring page
  • Improving your score will take preparation and a study routine. Learn more about study tips, preparation materials, and more to help you craft a successful study routine.
I appreciated the availability of test dates for CAEL, and found it convenient and inexpensive compared to other English proficiency tests.
- Aashima, CAEL - Test Taker
What I liked most about the CAEL was that you can do the test on the computer, it uses Canadian English, and the results are released quickly!
- Alinsson, CAEL - Test Taker
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