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IELTS Listening Tips | Crack IELTS Listening Section

ielts listening tips
A Complete Guide To

IELTS Listening Tips

Chapter 1

IELTS Listening Section Overview

The IELTS Listening section assesses your ability to listen to and comprehend a variety of spoken communication types and contexts. It is intended to gauge whether you have the necessary skills to survive in an English-speaking academic atmosphere. It also tests your ability to receive and rephrase information from a spoken conversation or text.

The Listening section is the same for the IELTS Academic and General Tests. It should be completed on the same day as the Reading and Writing tests. It consists of four recordings of native English speakers, which you will have to listen to and answer the questions that follow. Overall, there are 40 questions and a time limit of 30 minutes. In the Listening section of the paper-based test, you have 10 extra minutes at the end of the test to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet. You will be awarded 1 mark for each correct answer. Your score out of 40 is converted to a nine-band scale.


In the IELTS Listening section, you will come across 4 recordings of native English speakers, with ten questions each. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in order in the audio. 

The recordings can be heard only once. They include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American, and Canadian. 

The recordings vary according to context and topic:

  • Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context, e.g. travel arrangements.
  • Recording 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
  • Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.

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IELTS Listening Section - Question Types

  • Multiple Choice Questions

MCQs are the most commonly asked questions. Three possible answer choices (A, B, and C) are provided for a question, and you must choose the correct option.  

You can also be provided with the beginning of a sentence and asked to choose from 3 possible options on how to complete the given sentence. 

Remember to read the questions carefully as ‘choose more than one option’ question types are also meant to trick the test taker.

  • Plan, Map, or Diagram Labelling 

You have to listen to the description of a place and associate it with its visual representation. You are provided with either a map, a plan, or a diagram for labeling.

  • Matching 

This question type assesses your ability to match a list of items from the audio to a set of options on the question paper. You need to be able to identify and connect relevant information as you listen.

  • Sentence Completion

You must fill in the gap in sentences summarising key information from the entire audio or from a part of it. A word limit (e.g. not more than two words) will usually be provided for this task. Take care not to exceed the word limit.

  • Short Answer Questions 

You are required to read a question and then write a short answer using information from the listening audio. Word limit may be mentioned and, if exceeded, will result in penalization. 

  • Form, Note, Table, Flow-chart, Summary Completion

You are tested on your ability to pay attention to specific details provided and recognize the main ideas of the audio clip. Ensure that your answer stays within the word limit.

Chapter 2


There are a few things that make the IELTS Listening test quite challenging. To overcome these hurdles, one must have some tricks up their sleeve. These tips might already be very familiar to you, or they might be something entirely new. 


This is fairly obvious, isn’t it? But do we actually pay heed to this very familiar instruction? More often than not, we don’t. 

Acquaint yourself with different native English accents by listening to music, podcasts, news feeds, and audiobooks. Listen to lectures on topics of your interest and note down the important points. This will help you comprehend difficult lectures set in an academic context.


If you know what you can expect in a certain kind of recording and familiarize yourself with the questions and question types during the preparation time provided, it’ll be easier to identify the correct answer and the main points as you listen. 

Stay Alert

The audio/recording will only be played once. You cannot choose or determine when the audio will start playing. Hence, it’s important to stay alert and pay utmost attention to the audio. You need to answer as you listen. Do remember that the audio may not use the exact same words as the questions/options and vice versa. So look for ideas and not match words, as the latter can be misleading.

Practice your grammar and spellings

Are you wondering why this is important in the Listening section? You will be required to write down answers, and careless spelling and grammatical errors will cost you marks. There is no negative marking in IELTS, but a correct answer written with incorrect spelling or grammar will lead to 0 points for that particular question!

Build a good vocabulary

If you miss the meaning of a single word, it will affect your understanding of the core material. Therefore, read and listen to a variety of sources, and acquaint yourself with new words and phrases. A good vocabulary is always a valuable asset. 

Identify through tone

In the case of recordings set in a social context, try to identify the point made by the speaker through their tone and the emotion conveyed.

Look out for the word limit

Read the question very carefully. Look out for any word limits mentioned and strictly adhere to them. 

Words in context

There are bound to be some unfamiliar words. Try to guess the meaning through the context.

Transfer the answer practice

Practice transferring the answer from the question paper to the answer sheet before appearing for the exam. That’ll help to quicken the pace while you are attempting the actual exam. This only applies to those appearing for the paper-based test.

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IELTS Listening - Time Management

Time could be your pain point in this section. You have to complete 40 questions within 30 minutes. 

  • You’ll have some time to look through the questions. Utilize this time wisely.  Make sure you read all the questions. Don’t waste your time trying to comprehend the questions completely.
  • An extra 10 minutes will be provided to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet in the paper-based version of the test. In the computer-based version of IELTS, you will enter answers directly and have around half a minute after each recording and two minutes at the end of the section to review your answers. In either case, be quick, and ensure you make no careless mistakes (spelling mistakes or grammatical errors). 
  • Don’t make haste in writing down the answers. Instead, listen to the audio and read the questions carefully before answering. If you misread a question or miss out on the word limit (which can be quite tricky), you will lose out on points unnecessarily.

IELTS Listening Section FAQ’s

  • How will I get a good score in the Listening section?

To achieve a good band score, it is necessary to put in the required effort. Improve your listening skills. Various sources are available for this purpose. Utilize them and practice daily. More importantly, understand how the IELTS Listening section works and what you have to be careful of—for example, the question instructions, specific word counts, and the time constraints.

  • What are some of the main things to look out for?

Look out for the number of speakers in the audio. Listen carefully to their speech. Identify their tone. Keep an eye out for the mention of names, numbers, or such information. Read the questions in advance so that you can stay alert and catch the answers as soon as they appear in the audio.

  • What is the preparation time for the Listening section?

You’ll be given up to half a minute to look at the questions. Sometimes, the instructions will specify that you have to look at just a specific set of questions, say questions 1-5. If so, focus only on those questions because you will be given more time to look at the rest of the questions for that audio.

  • Can I take the Listening test on a different day?

No, you’ll have to take the Listening test on the same day as the Reading and Writing tests.

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