Listen carefully to the invigilator’s instructions. This may seem really obvious but whenever I’ve conducted practice tests, I’ve seen so many students who don’t listen and open their question paper too early etc. So, don’t switch off.
1. I’m going to say it again! Listen carefully to the invigilator’s instructions. He/She will tell you how to fill out the answer sheet.
2. When you have been given the question paper, you should read the instructions on the front but DO NOT open it. When the invigilator starts the audio, you will hear the instruction to open the question paper. If you open your question paper before you are told to do so, it may be considered as cheating.
3. The invigilator does a sound check of the recording before the test. If you have any problems hearing, tell the invigilator immediately. (Don’t wait until the test has started to say something. Once the listening test has started, the audio cannot be stopped.) Everybody might be having the same problem or it you are at a Test Centre that uses headphones; it might only be an issue for you.
4. Listen carefully to the audio; you really must concentrate and not let your attention wander. Remember you only have one chance to hear the listening. You should also make use of every second of the test; if you are told that you have half a minute to check your answers, check your answers, if you are told that you have half a minute to read through the questions, then read through the questions.
5. There are four sections in the IELTS Listening Test and you are given time before each section to read the questions. I suggest that you also do this when you’re doing practice tests at home so that you get into the habit of reading the questions carefully but quickly enough before the recording starts again.
6. As well as reading the questions in the listening test carefully, you should also read the instructions carefully. Let me give you an example, if the instruction says ‘WRITE NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS’, you can write one, two or three words but not four!
7. Be aware that the listening test questions follow the order of the recording. This means that as you are listening, you should both listen for the answer to the question you are expecting AND be aware of the questions that follow. In this way, if you miss the answer to one particular question, you won’t get lost and miss the answers to the next two!
8. Just as in real life, the speakers in the listening test often give answers that are vague or that they are unconvinced of. Always make sure you keep listening; you may get clarification or the speaker may change their mind so that the answer to the question is actually the opposite of what you thought. (I have seen so many students fall into this ‘trap’.)
9. When you are writing your answers on the question paper, you must find the balance between writing quickly and writing clearly enough for you to read your answers when it’s time to transfer them to the answer sheet. Remember that nothing you write on the question paper will be seen by the examiner but it must be clear enough for you to understand.
10. Remember to use every second profitably; if you still have time over after checking your answers, start reading the questions to the next section. Use every second!
11. After the final section, you are given ten minutes to transfer your answers. Keep listening (keep your headphones on if this applies to you) as you are given time checks. When you hear the instruction to stop writing, make sure you do so. If you don’t stop writing when told to do so, it may be considered as cheating.
12. When you are transferring your answers, make sure you transfer them to the correct number on the answer sheet. Check your spelling and write clearly. Use these ten minutes sensibly; transfer all the questions you have answered first and then use the remaining time to review the questions you didn’t answer/weren’t sure of. Once you’ve transferred all the answers you are sure of, you’re now left with time to review the others. I highly recommend that if you don’t know the answer to a question, you make an intelligent guess. Don’t leave it blank; if you leave it blank, it’s definitely wrong.
These tips really are just common sense but when we’re under pressure, we often forget our common sense. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure your success in the IELTS Listening Test.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!