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IELTS Listening Tips | Crack IELTS Listening Section

By September 28, 2021One Comment
A Complete Guide To

IELTS Listening Tips

Chapter 1

IELTS Listening Section Overview

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

The listening section of the IELTS Academic and General Test are the same. It should be completed on the same day, along with the reading and writing tests. There will be 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 paperbased 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.


There will be 4 recordings of native English speakers, with ten questions each. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard 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 the 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, Diagram Labelling 

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

  • Matching 

This type of question assesses your ability to match a numbered list of items from the audio to a set of options on the question paper.

  • Sentence completion

You must fill in the gap in the given sentence by reading a set of statements 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 type 

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 the 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 familiarize yourself with the recording and question types, it’ll be easier to identify the correct answer and the main points. 

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.

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 heavily. It’s important to pay attention to these aspects as well.

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. 

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IELTS Listening - Time Management

Time is of the essence in this section. You have to complete 40 questions within 30 minutes. 

  • You’ll have 1 minute 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. So be quick, but 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. 

IELTS Listening Section FAQ’s

  • How will I get a good score for 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.

  • 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 the tone. Keep an eye out for the mention of names, numbers, or such information.

  • What is the preparation time for the listening section?

You’ll be given 1 minute to look at the questions. If it’s a paper-based test, 10 minutes will be provided to transfer your answers from the question paper.

  • 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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