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IELTS Listening Test: Top Tips



1. Remember! The IELTS Listening test is the first test, before Reading and Writing, so make sure you arrive at the test venue in plenty of time so that you are not rushing and feeling overly stressed at the start of the exam.

2. It’s a good idea to listen to some English speakers before the start of the test so that you don’t start the test ‘cold’. For example you could download an interesting podcast to listen to on your way to the test centre. It might also help to take your mind off the exam and make you feel more relaxed!

3. Use the pre-listening time at the start of each section to quickly read through the questions so that you can anticipate the kind of information you need to listen for.

4. Listen carefully to the information provided at the beginning of each section which gives you the context of the recording: who is speaking, the situation and the purpose.

5. Use the headings, sub-headings and paraphrasing on the question paper as clues to know what to listen for and what the answers might be.

6. Look for and underline key words in the questions. Make sure you know what kind of answer is required: one word; a group of words; a letter; true/false etc?


7. Section 1 requires you to listen for facts. Read the instructions carefully for the number of words you can write and highlight this so you don’t forget. There may be numbers, addresses, spelling of names. Don’t write the first number you hear, there may be many, so listen for confirmation of the correct answer.

8. Grammar mistakes are penalised so be careful to listen for singular/plural nouns, and don’t forget the ‘s’ if it’s plural. Also don’t add articles (a/an/the) if they are not required or any other extra words if they don’t fit grammatically with the sentence in the gapped text.

9. With multiple-choice questions, the answers may be a main idea, a particular person’s idea or specific information. Answers in the recording may not be in the same order as the options so stay focused!

9. In ‘matching’ tasks, read the instructions carefully. Sometimes you can only use options once, sometimes you can use them more than once. There may also be extra options that you don’t need.

10. Section 4 is a lecture or presentation. You will be listening for specific details so read the notes carefully. There is lots of information there which will help you predict the answers. Be aware that you need to listen for synonyms as the speaker’s words will not always be the same as those in the notes/questions.


11. You only hear each recording once, so if you miss a question, don’t panic, just move on to the next one and try to keep following the speaker(s).

12. Remember, you don’t have to understand every word of what is being said to be able to answer the questions. Try to pick out the key words.

13. Listen to the tone of the speaker’s voice as a clue to any emotion or mood being expressed. Also listen for any changes in stress and intonation which often show which information is important to the speaker.

14. Always answer every question, especially if it’s a multiple-choice question, even if you have to guess!

15. At the end of Part 4, you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Make sure the number of each question corresponds correctly with the answer you are writing.

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Jessica Nunes - Brazil

Jessica Nunes - Brazil

Hi Nigel, I got my IELTS results today!
Listening 8; Reading 8; Speaking 7; Writing 7; Overall 7.5
I’m so happy!! I couldn’t have done it without your help. Thank you!

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