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IELTS Listening Test Tips and Advice

There is no difference in the content, format or level of difficulty and scoring between IELTS General Training and Academic examination. The Listening Test remains the same for both the versions.

Test duration: 30 minutes

What is the IELTS Listening Test Format?

You will have to listen to four recordings (conversations and monologues) and then answer the questions asked. The recordings are of native English speakers and a variety of accents are used. Remember, you can hear each recording only once.

  • Recording 1: You will listen to a dialogue placed in daily life and context.
  • Recording 2: You will listen to a monologue about everyday life or social context. For instance, a talk on the condition of streets in an area.
  • Recording 3: You will listen to a conversation between more than two people placed in a training or educational context. For instance, a teacher discussing an assignment with students.
  • Recording 4: You will listen to a monologue on any academic subject. For instance, a college lecture.

Helpful Tips for IELTS Listening Test

  • Before the recording begins for any section, do read all the questions carefully. This will help follow the recordings and identify the answers easily.
  • Once a section is complete, you can move ahead and read up the questions for the next section.
  • At times, there will be a list of options to make a pick from. It is not necessary that the answers will be in the order you hear them, they may could also be listed alphabetically.
  • Do note the word limits for each section. If an instruction says, ‘Write no more than two words’, stick to it. If you write more than the specified limit, you may end up getting no marks for the attempted answer.
  • Be attentive and look out for the key words or synonyms (words with same or nearly same meanings as another word) from the question. This can help identify the answer. For instance, if you hear in the recording: “She likes going to the gym and playing tennis”; it could reflect on your answer sheet/ screen (in computer-delivered IELTS) as “She is an active person.”
  • In questions where you have to write down words spelled out in the recording, you need to be well aware of the English alphabets and how they are pronounced. For instance, the alphabet ‘W’ is pronounced as ‘double-u’).
  • Listen carefully for words indicating the stage of the recording you are listening to, e.g. ‘firstly’, ‘my next point’, ‘to sum up’. These words help identify which question you have reached.
  • while listening to a recording, you can keep crossing out the options that do not fit. It makes it easier to find the right option.
  • If you have to mention dates in any answer, remember there are various correct ways to do so (e.g. April 24, 24th April and 24 April - all are correct).
  • If you face trouble in answering any question, leave it and move on. Don’t waste time on it and end up panicking. If you have time left in the end, come back to it later.
  • If you are taking IELTS on paper, you are given 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the Listening booklet to your answer sheet once the last recording is over. It is best to wait till the recordings end to transfer the responses to the answer sheet (and not in between sections) as you may end up missing some important information about the test’s next section.

Do note, you do not have an extra 10-minute transfer time in case of IELTS on computer.

To be better prepared, you can also download the range of other important official IDP Education IELTS preparation tools that we have available for you.

IELTS tips for Listening Examiner Approved Download
IELTS Support Tools A step-by-step guide to improve your language and test taking skills Download