Complete Guide to IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening exam causes many students problems. If you’ve taken the IELTS exam, or completed some IELTS Listening practice questions already and you’ve struggled, this is very normal. The test is challenging for a variety of reasons:

  • You only hear each recording only one time.
  • The Listening passages get more difficult as you progress through the exam.
  • There are a variety of questions types with which you must be familiar.
  • You must stay very focused in order to answer questions well.
  • You must also develop your skills at predicting answers by analyzing the questions.
  • There are a range of English accents represented on the exam.

This Guide to IELTS Listening will address all of these issues and provide you with the key strategies you need to improve your Listening scores. It should go without saying that the more English you know, and the better you understand native English speakers, the easier IELTS Listening will be for you. However, most people who take the IELTS need strategies to earn the extra points that will boost their Band scores. Each extra point can really make a difference. Keep reading to learn about the basics of IELTS Listening, the question types on the test, and the IELTS Listening practice that can help you to achieve your IELTS goals.

General Training vs. Academic

There is no difference between the General Training and Academic IELTS Listening papers. IELTS Reading and Writing are the only sections that differ between the two IELTS exams. Therefore, everything in this post is relevant to Academic and General Training IELTS preparation.

Timing for IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening will take about 40 minutes total. Approximately 30 minutes of this time is devoted to actually listening to recordings and attempting to answer questions in your Question Booklet. The Question Booklet is the place where you will see the instructions and the questions you need to answer. The Question Booklet is separate from your Answer Sheet. The Answer Sheet, which looks like this, is where you will write your final answers for grading. ONLY the answers you write on your Answer Sheet will be marked. After you listen to the final passage, you will have 10 minutes to transfer answers from your Question Booklet to your Answer Sheet.

You should use this “transfer time” to your advantage. There is no reason to mark final answers on your answer sheet until the 10-minute “transfer time” at the end. Use this time to write carefully and neatly. The grader needs to be able to read what you’ve written! Misspellings are marked incorrect, so you should also use this time to check (and double check) your spellings.