IELTS Listening Test

IELTS Listening test – Things you should know

IELTS Listening test is the same in both the Academic and the General training modules.

In this article, I will briefly discuss:

  • The test format
  • What type of information will you hear?
  • What types of questions will you face?
  • How to answer the questions?
  • How is the listening paper assessed?
  • Lastly, some tips to improve your listening score.

IELTS Listening Test Format

In the IELTS Listening test, you will get a question paper and an answer sheet. In the question paper, there will be 40 questions, and you will have 30 minutes to answer them by hearing four different recordings.  After 30 minutes, you will have extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers you the answer sheet. So, the total time of the IELTS Listening test is (30 min + extra 10 min) 40 minutes.

Answer Sheet Sample:

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This is the type of answer sheet that you will get in the IELTS Listening test.

Remember, the questions will be in the same order as the information delivered in the recordings. That means the answer of the 2nd question will be after the answer of the 1st question.


What type of information will you hear?

The IELTS Listening test is separated into four different sections, and each section contains 10 questions.

In section 1: You will hear a conversation between two people. For example, finding out information about renting a house.

In section 2: You will hear a monologue on a general topic. For example, a radio broadcast.

Generally, Section 1 and 2 deal with everyday and social situations.

In section 3: You will hear a conversation between two or three people in an academic context. For example, discussing an assignment.

In section 4: You will hear a monologue on an academic subject. For example, a professor giving a lecture on any topic.

Generally, Section 3 and 4 deal with educational and training situations.

Now, You may think, what is a monologue? Well, a monologue is a speech where just one person speaks.
Remember, each section will be more difficult than the one before, and you may hear a variety of accents, like the British, Australian, New Zealand, and even North American.


What types of questions will you face?

There are various types of questions in the IELTS Listening test. These are:

Question type 1: Form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion

Question type 2: Short answer questions

Question type 3: Sentence completion

In these types of questions, you only need to write words and numbers that you hear in the recordings.

Question type 4: Labelling a diagram/plan/map

Question type 5: Matching

Question type 6: Multiple choice

In these types of questions, you need to choose an option from a list and write a letter on your answer sheet.


How to answer the questions?

Well for each type of question you will be given clear instructions about how many words and numbers you can use to answer them. Also, these instructions will tell you what kind of information you should listen for, and how you should answer the questions. For Example:

Write ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER

Write ONE WORD ONLY

So read the instructions very carefully and answer the questions as it is instructed. If you use more words or numbers to answer questions than instructed, your answer will be marked incorrect.

Download Free Cambridge IELTS Listening test and Start your practice. 


How is the listening paper assessed?

In the IELTS Listening test, you will be asked 40 questions, and for each correct answer, you will have one point. Then, your total point out of 40 will be converted into a band score using this chart.

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Remember, you will never find any recording that is completely matched with the question paper, they will always paraphrase the question in order to assess how much recording you understand.


10 important Tips for IELTS Listening test

1)  Before you do each section, you will be given 30 to 45 seconds to look at the questions. Use this time to study the questions and try to predict what you might heat.

2) Always check your spelling. If you make a spelling mistake in the IELTS Listening paper, your answer will be marked wrong.

3) In the IELTS Listening test, Section 1 and 3 are conversations between two or three people. Section 2 and 4 are monologues with only one main speaker. Sometimes another speaker introduces the talk or asks questions.

4) You will hear accents from several English speaking countries in the test. These are British, American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand accents.

5) Pay attention to the instructions or number of words you need to write.

6) Most of the time you will hear two or more potential answers to each question. Basically they will use distractors to check how much you understood the recordings.

7) The questions in the listening paper are in the same order as the information you hear. This means you will hear the information you need for Question 1 before you hear the information for Question 2. However, in questions where you have to choose an option from a list here, you can find the possible options in random order.

8) You should study the map or plan carefully before you listen. Having a clear image in your mind will help you to understand what you hear.

9) Before you listen, read the options several times so that you become familiar with the information you need to listen for. Don’t cross out any options unless you are sure they are wrong. Write down the potential answers if you are unable to decide. You can decide it later when you will have an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

10) Search online for national radio stations from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. These often have programs that discuss topical issues. This will help you to increase your overall English listening skill.

Try to follow these tips and start your listening practice. These tips will not be effective if you don’t practice them.


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