What does the IELTS Listening Test include?

You have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions (1 mark each).

In both the Academic and General Training versions everyone takes the same test.

The test is about 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes for you to transfer your answers (so, 40 minutes in total).

You have to listen to four parts. The first two parts are in social contexts. The second two parts are in more academic and education contexts. You need to answer 40 questions (10 questions for each part, with 1 mark each). The test starts at an easy level (part 1) and gets more difficult later (part 4).

First, Part 1 has two speakers. For example, two people speaking together.

Then Part 2 includes one person speaking, giving information.

After that, Part 3 can have three or four people discussing something academic.

Finally, Part 4 has one speaker and is part of an academic lecture.

There will be a variety of accents in the test, often British and Australian.

You need to spell words correctly and use correct grammar, so the way you write your answers is important because If not you lose marks.

See examples of IELTS Listening Test questions on the IELTS pages.

How can you improve your score?

Do you want to feel more confident when you listen to English? You can build this confidence. You need to take responsibility for your learning and develop good study habits.

There are three important things you need to do in order to succeed in the IELTS Listening Test:

1. Firstly, you need to improve your overall English language level and reading skills in English. This includes understanding a wide range of vocabulary and grammar in context. Are you ready for the IELTS Test? Don’t take the IELTS Test before you are ready! Taking the test before you are ready is not useful and the IELTS Test is expensive. How can you improve your English language level and reading skills?

2. Secondly, you need to get to know the IELTS Test and learn how to prepare. What do you need to do in the IELTS Listening Test, and what are the best strategies for you to get a good score?

3. Finally, you need to practise. How can you practice the IELTS Listening Test?

Taking a look at points 1, 2 and 3 in detail:

 

Point 1 – Improve Your Skills

Are you ready for the IELTS Test? How can you improve your overall English language level and listening skills in English?

First, you must develop your general level of English and then work on your IELTS test techniques if you really want to improve your IELTS score.

Find resources online to practise listening to authentic materials. There are some excellent websites available for you to use. Website include online resources like the BBC Radio and BBC News and 6 Minute English facilities or TED lectures. Another is Breaking News English, which includes tasks and questions for you to work with and develop your skills at different levels. Try Ello.org. Watch films or a TV series, sometimes with subtitles. Listening carefully will help you improve your speaking skill too. Practise frequently. Challenge yourself.

Choose podcasts that interest you. For example:

The English We Speak
Podcasts in English
English Class 101
Elementary Podcasts
Splendid Speaking
Better at English
Voice of America Learning English
Business English Pod
Culips ESL Podcast
ESL Pod
Luke’s English Podcast

Practise taking notes while you listen to audio or video, because you need to do that in the test.

Know your level and build on it. Start with short practice and gradually increase it when you get better.

Point 2 – The Best Strategies

What do you need to do in the IELTS Listening Test? What are the best strategies for you to get a good score?

Before the test

1. First, you need to practise all the different kinds of questions Learn and practise all the types of questions that are included:

  1. multiple choice
  2. selection
  3. short answers
  4. note/sentence/summary completion
  5. labelling a map/diagram
  6. table/form completion

2. After that, you need to practise all the different kinds of questions. Learn and practise all the types of questions so you get familiar. You need to practise listening, reading and writing at the same time, because this is what you have to do in the test! For example, practise dictation and numbers. Numbers and letters are often included.

3. Practise complete authentic tests. You need to become familiar with the experience of taking the whole test.

During the test

4. Know what you are going to listen to, so use all of the indications to get this knowledge quickly. Look for keywords.

5. Keep your focus ahead of the recording. Make sure you’re ready for the next question. Try to look at two questions at once. This will prepare your mind.

6. Use the time given to prepare and predict what type of answers you will need. Is it an address? Is it a number?

7. See how the information is organised.

8. Use the time you have between sections (about 30 seconds) to look at the next section (you can use the time at the end of the complete test to check your answers). Underline key words in the next section.

9. Make sure you read carefully and understand the questions.

10. Pay close attention to the instructions and the number of words you can write. Furthermore, check if you can have a number (one) or numbers (more than one).

11. Listening is different from hearing. Therefore, you need to be attentive when you listen. Listen carefully.

12. Don’t worry about writing on the exam question paper because nobody looks at this. The only person who needs to understand your notes is you – when you transfer your answers at the end.

13. Some questions are very hard so don’t worry if you can’t answer some difficult questions. Relax. Don’t spend too much time on one question. Just continue to the next question and go with the flow.

14. Listen for synonyms because what you hear is often a paraphrase of what it says on the paper.

15. Relax. Remember that you don’t have to understand everything because you only need the answers!

16. Answers will sometimes come together quickly or there might be gaps between them.

17. Be careful with spelling because marks are deducted for wrong spellings. However, don’t worry about spelling while you’re listening. Use the time when you are transferring your answers at the end to check your spelling. You can use British or American spelling, but make sure you are consistent. Use a pencil not a pen when you write your answers.

18. Be careful with grammar, especially when you are completing sentences.

19. Don’t give an answer too quickly because sometimes the information you need is changed by the speaker.

20. In the multiple choice section, don’t read the options again and again because you need to be listening carefully! Answer all the questions. If you don’t know the answer you can just guess because you do not lose marks for wrong answers. In the multiple choice section you must write a letter for your answer (not the words). Eliminate other options that you know are wrong.

22. You can write your answers in CAPITALS or in lower case letters. Of course a name like Paris needs to start with a capital letter.

23. Concentrate! Half an hour is a long time to listen very carefully. Challenge yourself!

24. Don’t transfer any answers between sections. Transfer all your answers at the end.

Point 3 – How can you practise the IELTS Listening Test?

You can access examples of IELTS Test questions and answers on the IELTS web pages.
There is a wide range of IELTS preparation resources and materials available on the British Council web pages.
There are numerous websites with materials to find out about and practise for the IELTS Test so you can get the score you need and achieve your goals.

Summary

How can you improve your score?

Importantly, there are three important things you need to do in order to succeed in the IELTS Listening Test:

1. Firstly, you need to improve your overall English language level

  • develop your general level of English
  • find resources online
  • practise frequently
  • challenge yourself
  • choose podcasts
  • practise taking notes
  • know your level and build on it

2. Secondly, you need to know the best strategies for you to get a good score

before the test

  • you need to practise all the different kinds of questions
  • practise listening, reading and writing at the same time
  • practise complete authentic IELTS tests

during the test

  • know what you are going to listen to
  • make sure you’re ready for the next question
  • predict what type of answers you will need
  • see how the information is organised
  • use the time you have between sections
  • read carefully and understand the questions
  • pay close attention to the instructions
  • be attentive when you listen
  • don’t worry about writing on the exam question paper
  • don’t spend too much time on one question
  • listen for synonyms
  • remember that you don’t need to understanding everything
  • answers will sometimes come together quickly
  • be careful with spelling
  • be careful with grammar
  • don’t give an answer too quickly
  • in the multiple choice section, don’t reread the options
  • CAPITALS or lowercase letters
  • concentrate
  • transfer all your answers at the end of the test

3. Finally, you need to find materials and resources to practise