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What is there in IELTS listening?

The IELTS Listening test will take about 30 minutes, and you will have an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. There are 4 sections with a total of 40 questions; testing different skills such as:


   Section 1: A conversation between 2 speakers in a social/informal situation.

   Section 2: One person giving a talk based on a non-academic situation.

​   Section 3: A conversation with 2 -4 people based on academic topics or course-        related situations.

   Section 4: A university-style lecture or talk.

What should test takers look for in the Listening test?

  1. Specific information like dates, numbers and place names, etc.

  2. Identifying details

  3. Identifying gist/main ideas

   4.Interpreting beyond surface meaning of words, such as the speaker attitude or opinion

A variety of question types is used, and you may be asked to​

  • answer multiple choice questions

  • label a plan, map or diagram

  • fill in a form

  • complete a table

  • complete a flow-chart

  • give short answers


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Each correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands. You will not be losing any point for not answering or wrong answer. Though it is advisable to not to leave any answer blank. Sometimes wild guesses can be correct.

Listening test advice

Follow this Listening test advice, and make sure you understand how to respond to 'completion' type questions.

You will be given time to read through the questions before you listen. You will hear each recording of the Listening test only once.

As you listen, write your answers on the question paper. At the end of the test, you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet in pencil. You may write your answers in lower case or capital letters.

It is essential that you transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Nothing you write on the question paper will be marked.


Make the most of your Listening test:

  1. If you cannot hear the audio clearly, let a member of staff know straightaway.

  2. Follow the instructions carefully; they may be different to practice or previous tests.

  3. Listen for the specific information you want.

  4. Try and anticipate what the speaker will say; this will require concentration.

  5. Do not worry if there is a word you do not understand; you may not need to use it.

  6. If you do not know the answer to a question, attempt it but do not waste time; move quickly onto the next one.

  7. Be careful with your spelling and grammar.

  8. Do not panic if you think the topic is too difficult or the speaker is too fast; relax and tune in.

  9. Read, write and listen at the same time.

  10. Focus precisely on what you are asked to do in completion type questions.

  11. Pay attention to the word limit; for example, if you are asked to complete a sentence using no more than two words, if the correct answer is ‘leather coat’, the answer ‘coat made of leather’ would be incorrect.

  12. If the question asks you to complete the note ‘in the…’ and the correct answer is ‘morning’, note that ‘in the morning’ would be incorrect; the correct answer is 'morning'.

  13. Attempt all questions; there are no penalties for incorrect answers.

  14. Check your answers.

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