Top tips for the IELTS listening test

Top tips for the IELTS listening test

Every year, more than 2 million people take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Test. There are two types of test: the General Training Module and the Academic Module. General Training is usually taken by people who need IELTS for visa immigration purposes, while the Academic is usually taken by candidates who need it for university entrance. However, it’s also worth taking IELTS even if you don’t need it for these purposes because it is an internationally-recognised exam, which many employers will accept as proof of your level of English. You can take the IELTS test almost every week at many different centres around the world. You get your results after just 13 days! Here is a brief overview of the IELTS listening test.

The test is divided into 4 modules: listening, reading, writing and speaking and candidates are given an overall test score (between 1 and 9) based on the average of their scores on each part. Today, let’s take a quick look at the listening test!

The listening test has 4 sections with a total of 40 questions and takes around 30 minutes to complete. Unlike the Cambridge suite of tests, in the IELTS listening test candidates only hear the recording once, and each section is different.

In section 1, you will hear a conversation between two people involving an exchange of information, it is often between a student and someone providing a service, such as a library or accommodation agency. Candidates need to complete tasks with information about the student and the information the student is asking for.

In section 2, you will hear one person usually giving information about a facility. For example, a visitor centre or library and often involves completing a map or plan.

Section 3 consists of a conversation, often between a student and their tutor or between two students and this is usually about how to complete an assignment they have to write as part of their studies.

Finally, in section 4 you will listen to a talk by an expert on a non-specialized topic.

There are 7 types of task in the listening test. These are either, sentence completion; note, form, table and flow-chart completion; short answer questions; map, plan and diagram labelling; multiple choice with one answer; multiple choice with more than one answer, and matching. In each section, there will be 2 or 3 different types of task.

In order to get the score you require in the listening test, you will need to do the following:

Before the test

– Familiarise yourself with each type of task, preferably by taking an IELTS course at a British Council-recognised college, such as UKCE, where you can get training in the exam and lots of practice and feedback from an experienced IELTS teacher.

– Listen regularly to talks and conversations like plays and other dramas on the radio or podcasts on the internet. You will be able to listen to different native English speaker accents.

During the test

– Listen carefully to the instructions so you know exactly what you need to do to answer each question.

– Look at each task carefully and underline key words in the question.

– Be careful not to choose an answer just because it has the same words as words you hear in the recording. The test will try to trick you with this. But the real answer will usually use synonyms and paraphrasing of the words in the questions.

– Don’t leave any answer blank as you don’t lose marks for a wrong answer and your guess may be the right one!

So that’s a brief overview of the IELTS listening test. Next week, we’ll have a look at the reading test. See you then!

Laura Villa
Laura Villa