What is the aim of the listening test?

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 IELTS tests.

Woman listening to someone speaking.

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.

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What’s the structure and timing of the listening test?

The IELTS Listening section takes about 30 minutes, and you are given an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers from your question booklet to your answer sheet. There are four sections to the 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.

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 type of questions are there and how are the scores calculated?

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. You get one mark for each correct answer. Scores out of 40 are converted to an IELTS band between 1 and 9.

What are some suggestions to do well in the listening test?

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

Listen to keywords to undersatnd the meaning of the sentences.

As you listen, you should focus on the question you’re trying to answer but also have a quick look at the next question too. That way, if you miss an answer to a question, you’ll know 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 make a guess about the question you missed later.
Try to keep track of what the speaker is talking about as you move through the questions. The questions are in the same order that you will answer them. Pay attention to the instructions too. If a question asks for 2 words, make sure you only write 2 words!

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 re-take the test as many times as you like and the best way of reducing your nerves is to do plenty of practise! You can do that on the GlobalExam website.

What are the other parts of the IELTS exam?

The IELTS exam has four parts, the Listening is one of them. Here are the 3 others:

Practising online with GlobalExam

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. The site is very interactive – you can do IELTS exercises and get immediate feedback. You also have the chance to do full mock exams under timed conditions – just like in the real IELTS test. You can review your results in the statistics tab to check your progress. You can then improve any weak areas with the help of our vocabulary and grammar study sheets! So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for free our trial version today!

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