IELTS Listening – What To Expect

The listening part of the IELTS is as much important as the other sections. We know some of you are having a hard time practising the listening section, and do not know how to start. We want to share with you some effective ways and tips. Those will help you succeed in the listening part of the test. Before telling you what to do to improve your listening skills, let us introduce the listening section first.

IELTS Listening – Time and Question Types

The whole listening section takes 30 minutes to complete. You will also have an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. In the very beginning, you will hear the instructions. However, IELTS has removed the Part 1 example, so the listening test will start right after the instructions. IELTS has also removed page number references from the test.

The listening part consists of four sections. All you have to do is to read the questions in those sections and give your best answers. The listening part may have a different variety of question types, such as:

  • Multiple Choice 
  • Matching
  • Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling 
  • Flow-chart
  • Summary/Sentence Completion
  • Short-answer Questions

IELTS Listening – What to Expect in Each Part

Here are the descriptions for each part of the listening section:

  1. The first part of the IELTS listening test is a conversation between two people. It is is a day-to-day discussion. Make sure to follow the conversation and guess the right answers.       
  2. The second part of the IELTS listening test is a monologue. In this part, you will listen to only one person. You should try to guess the right answers from the context, although being attentive to the speaker’s voice and intonation could be helpful.
  3. The third part of the IELTS listening test is a conversation. The communication will be between up to four people. Usually, a group of students will discuss their project with a teacher.
  4. Last but not least, in the final part of the listening section, there will be a lecture on the academic subject. Keep in mind; there may be specific terminology in an academic context.

Each of the conversations or monologues are played once. So, you should make sure to listen to them very attentively. It would help if you also kept in mind that the voices will vary a lot and have different native accents.

One last thing, make sure to write your answers on the question paper while you are in the process of listening. That way, you will not miss out any answer.

Now you know the structure of the listening section of the IELTS test. Let’s now see how you can improve your listening skills.

How to Improve Listening Skills

When you start practising your listening skills, follow your heart! When scheduling practice sessions, you can pick up your favourite topics to listen to. For example, if you have an interest in marketing, you can start listening to podcasts about it. Research shows that people are better at listening to the things that they love or have an interest in. Keep in mind, you need to have a proper vocabulary to be able to succeed in the listening section.

We are sure you like watching movies, right? A great way to advance your listening skills is to watch your favourite movies in English: the ones you have already seen in your native language. This way, you will understand the context better. You will also learn in which situation what words or phrases are used. So, here are some movies which will help you improve your listening skills:

  • Jurassic Park: A great movie to learn some new scientific words.
  • The King’s Speech: It’s a fascinating film to watch. It includes a whole lesson for making a speech in English.
  • Notting Hill: Not sure to learn American or British English? This movie includes both and is a great romantic comedy.

You can also read the script while listening. Scripts are the written text of the audio. You can take notes while listening and compare them to the script. This will help you find out what you misheard or did not manage to hear and try to improve.

Lastly, it would be best if you did not underestimate the power of English news broadcasts. CNN, BBC and ABC are great channels to listen to. Do not concentrate only on one of them. You should listen to as many different channels as possible. That way, you can familiarize yourself with different accents. You can also take advantage of YouTube and watch some videos. If you are having a hard time understanding the videos, you can always turn on the subtitles to follow the text.

Of course, all these suggestions to practice for the listening section will work. Yet, make sure to take practice tests and understand your mistakes so that you can work on particular areas to improve. Take advantage of those trials, and do not be afraid to try!

Good Luck!

ALISTAIR BROWN: As a writing and speaking examiner for more than 10 years, I bring a lot of experience. I have seen the frustrations that students have with IELTS from a career where I have actively guided and corrected students’ studies. I am looking for the most effective ways to teach IELTS as I understand students’ needs.