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Listening for opinions in Part C

The importance of opinions

Part of the testing focus in Listening Part C is to check your understanding of opinions. In your work day, you will hear many different opinions from both colleagues and patients. Often the presentation of one opinion will lead to a response with a second opinion which may agree or disagree with the original opinion. To interact confidently in the English-speaking healthcare environment, you will therefore need to be able to identify when an opinion is being given and what the opinion is.

There are clues in the questions which require you to focus on an opinion. These can be quite obvious clues such as:

  •  In Dr Gibbens’ opinion,…

Or, the clues can be slightly less obvious e.g.:

  • How does Dr Gibbens feel about…?

Other words used in questions which give clues that an opinion is the focus are:

  • believe, think, view, impressed

When listening for the answer to the question, listening out for the person’s name can be useful although the answer may not be said right after the name. Additionally, if it’s a presentation and the opinion you are listening for is provided by the main speaker, then they won’t say their name at all. You will also need to listen for synonyms of other important words in the question and answer options.

Example question

Look at this example question from Listening Sample Test 1:

Dr Robson thinks the short-term priority in the fight against Chagas is to

 increase efforts to eliminate the insects which carry the parasite. 

 produce medication in a form that is suitable for children. 

 design and manufacture a viable vaccine.

Here is the script for this question:

Plenty. Researchers are working on improved drugs to treat it, and a vaccine, none currently exists, but it takes at least ten years to supply a new drug. Another idea is to develop the existing drugs in tablets of different sizes. That could and should be done almost overnight. What’s currently available is designed for adults, even though infants often have the disease. There are also some very important programmes using insecticides and other methods to wipe out the bugs that transfer Chagas to humans, but initiatives like those take decades rather than years.

'Short-term' is a really important word in the question. In the text we can see ‘at least ten years’ ‘almost overnight’ and ‘decades rather than years’. Only one of these—‘almost overnight’—is a good synonym for short-term.

The three different ideas (answer options) are:

  • working on improved drugs and a vaccine – takes at least 10 years [this is answer option C];
  • develop existing drugs in different size tablets – almost overnight; [see below]
  • wipe out the bugs that transfer Chagas to humans – take decades [this is answer option A].


Answer B is correct. We can recognise this by the information before and after the words relating to short-term. The speaker says existing drugs 'could and should' be made in different sizes 'almost overnight'. This is because what’s currently available is designed for adults, even though infants often have the disease.