Share on

Have you registered for the IELTS and have you started preparing for the test? Do you have questions about the listening part of the exam? You’ve come to the right place.

IELTS is one of the most renowned English-language tests in the academic world. Organizations and academic institutions require non-native English speakers to take it in order to assess how they express and understand English Language. The IELTS test is composed of four parts: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

In this article you’ll learn more about the specificities related to the IELTS listening section such as:

  • How the IELTS listening section is structured;
  • What skills are evaluated during this section;
  • How this session is marked;
  • How to get the best results thanks to GlobalExam’s tips.

So let’s know more about the IELTS listening section.

Test My Level For Free

Please note that the Listening Section is the same for both the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General tests.

For more information on the other sections of the test, please refer to these articles:

IELTS Test Listening Section: What Is the Structure?

IELTS is a registered trademark of the University of Cambridge ESOL.

The IELTS Listening section takes about 30 minutes, and you are given an extra 10 minutes to transfer and to write your answers on the question paper to your answer sheet. There are four sections to the IELTS Academic Listening part:

  • Exercise 1 : A conversation between two people in a social situation with comprehension questions.
  • Exercise 2 : A monologue set in a social setting e.g. a talk about organising a business meeting.
  • Exercise 3 : A conversation between a small group of people in an educational setting e.g. a university tutor and students discussing a homework task.
  • Exercise 4 : A monologue about an academic subject such as a university lecture.

woman listening to music with headphones on in the bed

What Are The Task Types For The IELTS Listening Test?

We are going to address all the types of tasks in the Listening section.

What happens at the start of the test?

At the start of the listening section you will hear a recording of instructions and be given a sample question. This will happen before each section of the listening test. As mentioned, the last 10 minutes of the test are for transferring your answers onto the answer sheet.

What types of questions are there?

There are 40 questions and there are a variety of question types. You may be asked to answer multiple choice questions or label a map or diagram. You might be asked to fill in a form, complete a table or give short answers to a question.

IELTS Listening Test: How many task types?

The listening part comprises 6 different listening tasks aiming at testing different competences of your listening capability.

Top IELTS Listening Tips: to save you time when taking the test, we advise you to be able to rapidly distinguish each task type. Keep in mind that you can listen to each recording only once, that’s why the key to success in this section lies in being well prepared.

Task Type #1 Multiple Choices Questions

Listen to the audio and check one of the 3 possible answers related to what you’ve just heard;

Task Type #2 Matching Times Two

Listen to the audio and match information you’ve heard in the audio to items or phrases on the paper/computer screen;

Task Type #3 Plan, Map, Diagram Labeling

Complete a map or a figure (such as the plan of a room or of a city, the schema of an item) with labels. You’ll hear someone giving various pieces of information about a place and you’ll have to retrieve the data you need to complete the diagram.

Task Type #4 Form, Note, Table, Flow-chart, Summary Completion

In this exercise you are required to fill in a form or table with factual information you hear (such as telephone numbers, dates…). The answers should be just a few words long.

Task Type #5 Sentence Completion

Listen to the audio and complete the written sentence with a short answer you’ve heard in the audio. Be careful, the sentence pre-written on your test will not be the exact same one you’ll hear in the audio: you’ll have to rephrase it.

Task Type #6 Short Answer Questions

Read the question and answer with a short answer from the audio. In this task, you’ll not only hear audio giving you the answers to your questions but also distractors. They’ll give you superfluous or tricky information to mislead you in your answers. So be careful and filter the important items.

What Is the Aim of the Test and What Competencies Are Evaluated?

For the listening section of the IELTS test you will be listening to recordings that will increase in difficulty as you go through the exam. You will hear a number of different speeches and conversations with a variety of different accents. The content of the Listening test is the same for the Academic and General Training Listening tests.

The IELTS Listening test will assess how well you understand main ideas and specific details in recordings of a speech or conversation and how well you notice the opinions and attitudes of speakers.

IELTS Listening Test: Marking System And Raw Score Conversion

As you probably know already, the IELTS band score gives you a mark from 1 to 9. This mark is the average of the four grades (between 1 and 9) you’ve got in each part of the test: Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening.

Regarding the Listening part, you’ll have to answer 40 questions, each correct answer giving you one mark. You obtain a score out of 40 which is then converted to the IELTS 1 to 9 band score.

Raw Score
Band Score

IELTS Listening Section: Top Tips When Taking The Test

Here are a few tips to give all the cards you need to ace the exam.

Tip #1 Be rested and relaxed before

Firstly, get plenty of sleep the night before the test and try to relax once the test has started.

Tip #2 Focus on the keywords in the audio

On the day of the test, let someone at the test centre know immediately if you cannot hear the recording properly.

Listen carefully because each section of the recording is only played once. Whilst listening, try and predict what the speaker is going to say as it will help you to focus. Don’t worry if there are some words you don’t understand – try to listen to key words that help you understand the general meaning of what is being said.

Tip #3 Read the next question

As you listen, try focusing on the question you’re trying to answer and also take a quick look at the next question too. It helps you know what information you’ll be looking for in the next passage you’ll hear. And if you miss an answer to a question, you’ll know it because the speaker will be talking about something related to the next question rather than the one you are on.

If this happens, just move on to the next question. It’s better to miss one question than get lost entirely and miss several answers. You can try and guess the answer of the question and go back to it later.

Try to remember what the speaker is talking about as you move through the questions. The questions are in the same order that you will answer them.

Tip #4 Pay attention to the instructions

If a question asks for a 2 word answer, make sure you only write 2 words.

Tip #5 Proofread your answers

Finally, if you do finish answering the questions early – check your answers carefully as you might be able to spot a few spelling mistakes!

If you’re still feeling nervous – remember that you can retake the test as many times as you like and that there is no fail mark.

Besides, the best way of reducing your nerves is to do plenty of practice listening tests and GlobalExam’s website is here to help.

girl listening to music

Try Out GlobalExam Online to Get Top IELTS Test Results

E-learning platforms are the best way to practice for your IELTS test because you can access the website from everywhere, have your hands on various modern tools and prepare as if you were in exam conditions.

GlobalExam is an online platform dedicated to IELTS preparation in real exam conditions. Our experts regularly write new content to deliver effective training and practice opportunities. Our website is very interactive and success-oriented: you can take a test to identify your customized learning path and set targets on what you need to work above all.

You could register directly on ESOL British Council and IDP Education websites. You could also find information about affiliated, approved or endorsed IELTS test centers.

What GlobalExam can offer you

You also have the chance to do full mock exams under timed conditions – just like in the real IELTS test. Instead of just practicing by yourself on a book with a CD, GlobalExam proposes up to 5 real IELTS mock exams. When taking the mock test on GlobalExam you’ll see a clock telling you how much time you still get for the whole test and for the part you’re taking.

And you can take a whole mock IELTS exam without obligation so you get to see typical questions you’ll have to answer for the test and the structure of the exam. For each of the IELTS 4 sections (Listening, Reading, Speaking et Writing) you get a free training access. It will not take more than 30 seconds to register on GlobalExam.

After each exam, you’ll receive immediate feedback with a grade. You can then monitor your results in the statistics tab and check your progress.

Improve any weak areas with the help of our revision material. GlobalExam’s website provides vocabulary sheets and grammar study sheets so that you have all the needed information in one place.

Sign up for free for our trial version today!