||It has been widely accepted that among the four skills, our understanding of listening is particularly limited. Candlin, in his preface to Brown (1990) compared the amount of second language reading research with second language listening research and called listening 'a poor sister of work in Applied Linguistics'. If our understanding of listening is insufficient, our understanding of the testing of listening has to be scanty. Hong Kong students are under constant pressure from tests and examinations, including English examinations, the results of which may affect their future careers. The urgent need to look into the area of the testing of listening in English is reinforced by the reality of a very large candidature for public examinations such as the Hong Kong Certificate of Education HKCE examination, which includes a listening component. Those who have been involved in producing listening tests know that many of what have been treated as guidelines and principles of test item construction are in fact beliefs which lack much empirical support. The present study aims to examine some of these beliefs by looking at the effects of four factors which affect the level of difficulty in listening tests. They are: question type, text length, question position and answer location.