Ten Tips for the IELTS Listening Exam

Follow these tips for the IELTS Listening Exam to get a high Band Score:

  1. Get to Know the Test 

Each section of the listening test is designed to test different skills:

Part 1: A Short Conversation 

The parts of the tests become progressively more difficult so part one is the easiest. The questions are relatively simple.

The conversation could be face to face or over the telephone and might involve a hotel receptionist, tour operator or holiday planner.

There would be questions and answers about both speakers. The format of the answer is generally a “fill in the blank” format according to the suggested word count. 

Part 2: A Monologue

This task involves finding matching information or filling in the blanks using a specific word count. It might involve a teacher or someone in authority dictating instructions for a student or employee.

tips for IELTS Listening Section

Part 3: A Long Conversation

This generally involves a discussion between a group of people talking about an academic topic. The questions are becoming more complicated to test your comprehension level.

tips for IELTS Listening Section

Part 4: A Lecture

This part tests your ability to understand complex vocabulary and phrasing. It’s generally a lecture from a professor on an academic topic. You will be tested on your ability to grasp the main idea and answer questions about the topic, which could be about a study on a current issue or a scientific discovery.

2. Get to know the Types of Questions

Get to know the various types of questions that you may encounter in the exam, which are:-

    • Table, diagram, flowchart completion
    • Multiple choices (MCQ)
    • Short answer
    • Matching information
    • Sentence completion 

3. Read the question carefully

Take care to follow the instructions.  For example, if you are asked to answer a question using no more than two words make sure that you do. If you use three words then you will be marked wrong regardless of whether your answer is correct.

4. Practise

In the exam the recording will be played once only. Therefore do practice tests where you listen once only to get used to it.

5. Analyse the Instructions

Use the 30 Seconds before the audio starts by analysing the instructions and underlining the keywords.

6. Use a Pencil

Write your answers on the answer sheet using a pencil–not a pen.

7. Transfer your Answers

Once you have written your answers on the question paper they must be transferred to the answer sheet. Practise doing this at home. Take thirty minutes to answer the questions and ten minutes to transfer them.

8. Guess if you Don’t Know

If you don’t know an answer, guess it. I will not mark you wrong for an incorrect answer.

9. Check Your Spelling

Check that your spelling is correct. The best time to do that is when you transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet.

10.  Learn to multitask.

During the exam you will need to read the questions, listen for an answer and write it down all at the same time so practise.

Follow these tips for the IELTS Listening Exam and you will get a high Band Score:




Paul Andreas

Paul Andreas is a Certified Speaking Coach and qualified TEFL Teacher Online English Lessons delivered by Skype for IELTS exam preparation and conversational English. Get a free trial lesson.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. ElleBurke

    I’m glad to know the recording part of the test will be played once only! That makes me nervous, but maybe if I practice more then I will be able to do it right. Thank you so much for the information! I will definitely practice using only one recording from now on.

  2. Paul Andreas

    Yes, keep practising, Elle. You can do it!!

  3. Rebecca sharks

    I would like the reemphasize the fact that sticking to the word count for each answer is very important. Exceeding the expected word count for a question can be a potential cause for low grades even when the given answers were correct.

  4. Jules Lari

    Another good tip which I learnt to do during the speaking test was to “technically” seek for a repeat of the question at some points in such a way that the examiner had to rephrase the questions in a way that I had a better understanding of the question before answering the question. Doing this really helped me not to rush into a question thinking that I understood what was required.

  5. Godwin

    Rather than guess to provide an answer you are unsure of, what if a student chooses to leave a space for the answer blank when he/she doesn’t know the answers. Will such a blank space be marked negatively or simply a zero mark for that question?

  6. Janet Usoro

    Thank you for publishing this awesome article. Your site will help me to pass the IELTS exam.

  7. 우리카지노

    I like the valuable information you provide in your articles, especially this one about the IELTS listening exam. I failed it last time and I think that the articles on your site will help me to do better next time. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.

  8. Aviva Hansen

    Hello, after reading this post, “Ten Tips for the Listening Exam” I am feeling encouraged that I could accomplish it.

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