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IELTS Listening test. What should I expect?

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The IELTS Listening test is approximately 30 minutes long. Besides that, additional 10 minutes will be given to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. The Listening part is the same for both Academic and General Training tests.

 There are four sections in the IELTS Listening test:

  • Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency, a new course enquiry, etc).
  • Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a monologue about local communities, etc).
  • Section 3 is a conversation between group of people in different contexts (e.g. a university tutor and few students discussing an assignment, etc).
  • Section 4 is a monologue on a scientific subject (e.g. research from a recent expedition in Antarctica, etc).

Now that we know the structure of the test, let’s get familiar with our 10 essential tips to succeed in IELTS listening.

Can I get my desired score in the IELTS Listening test?
Yes, without a doubt! Here you will find essential tips to succeed in your Listening test. By following these tips, you can improve your score and get better results!

1. Read the instructions.

The first tip for the IELTS Listening task tip is to always read the instructions carefully. It is an important tip for any other parts of this test as well.
The instruction clearly indicates how many words you should use. If it asks for no more than two words and you use three, it will be wrong and you will lose an important point.

2. Underline key words.

While checking instructions, you should also look through the questions, particularly, in the more difficult parts 3 and 4 and underline key words (such as names, addresses, cities and dates) to help you hear the answer more accurately.

3. Look out for synonyms.

Remember that IELTS test is designed for advanced English level. Therefore, most likely you will not hear the exact same words written in the tasks. You should always look for synonyms instead (paraphrased words with the same meaning) and listen carefully when the audio is playing to fill the gaps in given sentence.

4. Learn to read, listen and write together.

The IELTS Listening test is all about multitasking! During your test you will need to read, listen and write at the same time. Therefore, you should practise and develop this skill. You can practise a test from your course book or try listening TED talks or song lyrics. It is a fun yet effective activity!

listening closely woman ear

5. Stay focused!

The Listening test has only short gaps. You will be given 4 separate tasks; one after another. Therefore, a sharp focus is crucial! Remember, you will only hear the audio once. If you missed an answer, don’t worry! Keep listening and try to get back to the missed questions at the end of the test.

stay focused


6. Don't write answers too quickly.

The IELTS Listening test is designed to trick you! A lot of students make this mistake: as soon as they hear word mentioned in the task, they take it for the correct answer. But sometimes this information is repeated or corrected further in the section.
For example: ‘’I will see him on Thursday at 5pm. Oh, wait…. Actually, he might be late. I will meet him at 5.30pm.’’

Keep listening until the end of the task!

7. Check your spelling and grammar.

Correct spelling and grammar are a vital part of your listening task! While reviewing given sentences, try to identify if required word will be a verb, an adjective or a noun, or whether it needs to be in singular or a plural forms? Your would lose points if it is spelt incorrectly or the verb form is wrong. Make sure you check the spelling and grammar when you transfer your answers to the answer sheet. 

accuracy darts


8. Transfer answers accurately.

Make sure you follow given instructions. Transfer your answers exactly how the instructions require doing that. You will be given 10 minutes for transferring your answers into the answer sheet at the end of the Listening part. Confused numeration is such a common mistake! Make sure you put the answers into the correct numbered space. Use your time wisely!

9. Avoid silly mistakes!

After each section you will have half a minute to check your answers. It is important to check spelling, plurals and word forms. Remember that misspelled answers will not gain points.



10. Don't leave any blank answers!

Even if you are not sure that your answer is correct or your answer is just a guess, do transfer it to the answer sheet. It is always better to write something in the answers box rather than leaving it empty. You might be lucky and guess the answer correctly.