IELTS listening tips

IELTS listening tips

What does the IELTS listening exam consist of?

  • There are four sections to the IELTS exam: reading, writing, speaking, listening.
  • Listening, reading and writing are done on the same day. The speaking test is typically scheduled in the afternoon but it can be scheduled within seven days before or after that
  • Each section gets increasingly difficult
  • One mark is awarded for each of the 40 items

What you need to know about the listening exam:

  1. The test takes 30 minutes
  2. Remaining time of 10 minutes to transfer your answers
  3. It is the same for both the Academic and GT modules
  4. You listen to four texts by native speakers
  5. You are being tested on your ability to listen for gist (main ideas) and scan (detailed information), opinions of speakers, development of ideas
  6. The listening is divided up into four sections

Section 1- dialogue between two people in an everyday social context (example- two people are having a conversation about travel options to a particular destination). You are given a form which you need to complete.

Section 2- a monologue (speech by one person) set in everyday social context. This could be for example, someone talking about what they do for work, or a speech about local facilities- it is far ranging but whatever the topic is, it will have notes of familiarity.

Section 3- a conversation with up to four people. (See how the difficulty has increased?) The topic usually revolves around college or university, such as a project or assignment.

Section 4- a monologue on an academic subject. Unlike its counterparts, there is no break so you will need to focus and listen very carefully.

General tips:

  • Listen to as many recordings as possible for your preparation
  • Be prepared for a range of question types; multiple choice, sentence completion, classification, matching, short answer questions
  • Remember that you are given instructions on the test paper on how to answer the questions
  • Remember that you are given time to read the questions and check your answers. You enter your answers whilst listening and when the tape ends, you can transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

Section 4 tips:

  • Read the instructions carefully (I cannot stress this enough)
  • Highlight key words in the questions- this will help you identify the answer more accurately and quickly
  • Try to focus on two questions at the same time so that if you miss one, you at least have the next one already
  • For tables with dates, listen carefully for the years in the mentioned ‘period’
  • Don’t focus on spelling and grammar as the test is happening- correct this when you transfer your answers

Thank you for reading. I am Emma and I publish writing tips and prompts on my website. I am an IELTS tutor and tutor for conversational English.