What do I have to listen to in the IELTS Listening Test?

9cp9AxocEI hear the above question a lot from my students, so I’d like to address it in this post and hopefully dispel any myths you’ve heard from other people.

The IELTS Listening Test consists of 4 sections and each section has 10 questions.  You will hear the audio only once (this may be different from what you are used to in English Language classes but is more similar to real life situations).

Each question is worth1 point.

So what are the sections?

Section 1

Section 1 is usually a conversation between at least 2 speakers.  The conversation is based on social or life situations.  Some examples of these situations are:

  • Travel arrangements
  • Giving personal details required for an application form
  • Making arrangements t go out
  • Visiting a new city

Section 2

Section 2 is usually a short speech or presentation with only 1 person speaking.  As in section 1, it is based on social of life situations.  Some examples of what you might hear are:

  • A news broadcast
  • A presentation from a radio programme
  • A description of university facilities

Section 3

Section 3 is a discussion between up to 4 people It is usually concerned with education or with training situations.  Some examples are:

  • A conversation about what someone’s job entails
  • A conversation about what someone’s academic course entails
  • A group of students planning a project
  • A tutor and a student discussing career options

Section 4

Section 4 usually has one person speaking formally and is also based on education and training.  Some examples are:

  • A lecture of general academic interest
  • A talk of general academic interest.

Some points to note

1. You need to familiarise yourself with the different types of IELTS listening question tasks:

  • Matching tasks
  • True/false tasks
  • Multiple choice tasks
  • Sentence completion tasks
  • Gapfill tasks
  • Diagram labeling tasks
  • Chart/table completion tasks
  • Short answer question tasks.

The questions test your ability to understand the general topic, specific information and details, spoken opinions and arguments.

2. Be careful with your handwriting so that your answers can actually be read!

3. Spelling is not always important as long as your meaning can be understood.  For example, if you wrote ‘meening’ instead of ‘meaning’, you wouldn’t lose the point but if someone spelt out a word for you A-L-A-N-N-A  C-A-R-Y-S-F-O-R-T-H and you spelt it wrong, you’d lose the point.

4. Some questions will specify how many words you can use in the answer.

For example ‘Fill in the gaps with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS

Please follow this instruction carefully; one-word answers, two-word answers and three-word answers are okay.  Four-word answers and five-word answers are not!

Don’t be one of those candidates who throws points away over silly things.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!


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