IELTS listening test is about “listening” to an audio and answering the questions simultaneously.
Many students dread the listening section of IELTS test for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the recording is played only once which means that in case the student gets distracted, he or she might miss out on listening to the answer.
Secondly, the accent used in the audio can be American English, British English, Canadian or Australian accent. Not all students will be familiar with the different pronunciations used in these countries.
To make things easier for you, here are some IELTS listening test tips that will help you to get a high band score.
However, we shall understand the pattern of the listening test before moving on to the tips.
How is IELTS Listening Test Pattern
IELTS listening test is the same for both academic and general training modules. Note that there is no difference between British Council and IDP IELTS listening test.
How IELTS Listening Test is Conducted
IELTS listening test consists of 40 questions.
It has four different parts with 10 questions each. These “parts” were referred to as sections before 4th January 2020.
In the first part, you will be able to hear two speakers conversing about something that we encounter quite often in our routine. For example: A person inquiring about a hotel booking, a lady wanting to sell her cupboard, or a student inquiring about the address of the hostel.
Names, dates, times, places, numbers, weight of something, and specific addresses are the common answers in this part.
In this part, you will hear a monologue. The speaker is explaining about a sports setup, historical place, a company, or college premises. Make sure you hear the audio carefully so that you can answer any specific details about the building in question.
The Part 3 will have three or four speakers discussing something related to their academics. It can be a discussion pertaining to their dissertation or a presentation at college. You might hear two students in conversation with their professor or internal meeting between three to four students.
Listening Section Part 4 is an academic lecture in which one speaker can be heard, explaining something about a common phenomenon in nature. You can consider soil erosion as an example.
Remember that the difficulty level increases with each section. However, if you ask me, I find Section 4 the easiest because if you know some basics about science and geography, you will be able to answer it even by ‘guesswork’.
However, I don’t intend to say that you will not need to listen to the audio. In the worst case, if you miss out on listening to the audio due to lack of focus, you might be able to apply logic to answer the question in Section 4.
How IELTS Listening is Scored
Here are the skills you must excel in, if you want to score high in IELTS listening test.
IELTS Listening Test Tips
- Write the answers in all CAPS so that there is less chance of mistakes. By writing the entire answer in capital letters, you will be able to avoid losing out on points because of the wrong capitalization. Also, it will be easier to read.
- As mentioned previously, you must listen to the recording carefully. You will not be able to listen to the audio another time. Make the most of the “one” chance that you have.
- Make sure you write the correct spelling. For example: If you wrongly spell ’embarrass’ as embaras, it will be marked incorrect. (This applies to reading and writing sections too. You will lose points for spelling mistakes.)
- Keep calm. Often, it so happens that you will get answers to multiple questions in just one minute. Maintain your concentration so that you can grasp the right answers. At times, you may not listen to the answers even after a long gap. Keep your anxiety at bay. This is pretty common in section 4 of the listening test.
- Never leave an answer unanswered. I will share a personal experience with you. When I appeared in my IELTS listening test, I was so nervous in the first fifteen minutes that I missed out on listening to one of the answers in Part 1. I read the question and the closest answer I could think of was ‘discount’. Luckily, I must have got that right because I scored 8.5 bands in the listening test. The moral of the story is never forget to ‘guess’. After all, there is no negative marketing so you have nothing to lose.
- Read the question carefully. If you are answering a ‘fill in the blanks’ question, make sure your answer fits in the blank well. This means to say that the final sentence should be grammatically correct. For instance: If the question is : Molly fell ____________ while trying to save herself from the burglars. The answer to this should be “on the ground”, not just “ground”.
- Go through the instructions for each section. Your instructions can be something like: “No more than one word and/or a number”. In such cases, your answer must be one word only. An answer like “2012” (as in the year) will be considered as a single number. Even if the number is 12506890, it will be taken as one word. Long-term and other similar hyphenated words will be a single word. Compound nouns like fish tank, swimming pool, and living room that are written without spaces are considered as two words.
- While answering multiple choice questions in the listening test, you must answer in the single letter rather than the word itself. If your choices are a) The student, b) The peon, and c) The professor and the answer is Option b) The peon, your must be simply “b” and not “The peon”.
- Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to consume everything that you listen in the audio. Instead, just try to find the answers.
- You must multitask in the IELTS listening test. Try to stay attentive while penning down your answers so that you do not miss out on hearing to the audio. It is advisable that you go through the questions in the next section during the break at the end of completion of every section. By doing so, you will know what to expect in the audio and what to listen for.
- IELTS listening test can get tricky sometimes. More often than not, the speaker gives off the answer and then changes it. Be focused enough to grasp such tricks.
- Practice, practice, and practice. There is no alternative to practicing. You must create a mock IELTS set up with headphones and sit to take the test. Listen to the audio just once and see how much you can score. Cambridge books 1 to 15 are great to start with.
- Watch English movies without subtitles to judge how much you can understand. It will help you with pronunciations in different accents.
- At the end of the test, you will get 10 minutes to write your answers in the answer sheet. Use this time wisely and check for spelling errors. Proofread the answers always.
- Last but not the least, fill in the right details. Do not mess up with your ID, lest there may be problems in processing your test score.
Summing it up
Of course, IELTS listening test is an examination that evaluates your English listening skills. Besides, it also assesses your concentration and how focused you can stay for 30 minutes at a stretch. Do not worry about all this and just practice a lot. Practice is the key to scoring a high band score in IELTS.