IELTS Listening Exam

IELTS Listening


IELTS Listening is divided into four sections, with 10 questions in each section. The test takes around 30 minutes to complete, with each section getting increasingly more difficult. You will have 10 minutes at the end of the listening test to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

How to Get a Band 8 in IELTS Listening

In this video, I’ll teach you how to understand the IELTS Listening exam format and question types so you can walk into your test with confidence and get the score you need.

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Read more: Ielts listening level

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Top 5 IELTS Listening Tips

  1. Familiarise yourself with a range of accents. The IELTS Listening test will feature a range of accents to reflect the international nature of English. Therefore, you should get used to listening to accents from a range of English-speaking countries. Instead of just listening to the BBC, you could try smaller regional radio stations or actively watching TV shows from different English-speaking countries. A quick search on Google is all you need to find these.
  2. Don’t lose your concentration. It can be difficult to stay focused during your IELTS Listening test, but it’s also extremely important if you want to score a Band 7 or above. To improve your concentration you need to practice active listening. This involves setting yourself small tasks when you are practising and actually doing something when you are listening, just like you will be in your test.
  3. Follow the instructions carefully. This especially applies when it comes to the word limit. If the question states ‘No more than three words’ then you can’t write any more than this. If your answer is four words it will be incorrect.
  4. Familiarise yourself with the different question types. Doing so will mean you’ll know exactly what to expect on test day and how to react to the question types you’re given. To help you with this, you should use genuine practice IELTS past papers.
  5. Practice listening to things only once. Lots of teachers allow their students to listen to a recording 3 or 4 times. However, I would strongly recommend practising the exam under exam conditions and that means listening just once.

IELTS Listening Question Types

Click on any of the links below for a full step-by-step guide to answering each IELTS Listening question type:

  • Summary Completion Lesson

This lesson will help you prepare for the test by familiarising you with summary completion questions, giving you some tips and a chance to practice.

  • Overview and Tips

This is a good article to start with and will allow you to understand exactly what the test is and how you can use this site to improve your listening skills.

  • Form Filling Question Tips

In the first section of the test, there is often a form filling question. Normally the answers will be one or two words long and will be factual information, such as phone numbers, dates and times.

  • Multiple Choice Questions

This post will show you how to effectively answer multiple-choice questions in the test. It will show you the three different types of multiple-choice questions, look at common problems and give you tips and a strategy to help you on test day.

  • Labelling a Map or Plan

This post will help you answer labelling map or plan IELTS questions more effectively by looking at common problems, useful language and giving you a strategy to use on test day.

Image: IELTS-listening-2

Essential Exam Information

In order to score a Band 7+ in IELTS listening, you need to have a solid understanding of what is expected from you. The information below will help you understand exactly what is required from you:

  • The IELTS Listening test lasts around 30 minutes.
  • There are 40 questions in total. Each question carries 1 mark.
  • The test is divided into 4 parts. The questions get progressively more difficult as the test goes on.
  • Timing is key. For each part, you will have time to look at the questions before the recording begins and you will have time to check your answers at the end.
  • You will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet provided at the end of the test.
  • Both General Training and Academic IELTS pupils take the same Listening exam.
  • You can check out our complete guide to the IELTS exam here: IELTS Preparation Guide

IELTS Listening Test Day Advice

  • Arrive at the test centre early and plan your journey in advance. You need to be settled, organised and ready for what’s coming.
  • Read and listen to the instructions very carefully. Many students throw away easy marks by misreading or not following simple instructions.
  • Write your answers on the test paper. Feel free to write on it. You’ve paid for it.
  • Carefully transfer your answers to the answer sheet at the end.
  • You can write in all capital letters if you wish.
  • If you have problems hearing the recording, complain at the end. You’ve paid for a service and you deserve to be treated properly.
  • For more help with test day advice, check out the IELTS website here: IELTS Test Day Advice

Improving your Listening Skills

  • IELTS Listening: 10 Steps Towards a Band 8

Many of our pupils need to get at least one Band 8 for visa application or scholarship purposes. This article will detail the exact steps you must take if you need to get a Band 8 in listening.

  • Best Podcasts for English Learners

Learn More: IELTS Listening 2 – Section 1

Podcasts offer you an insight into what you can expect if you actually lived in an English speaking country. There are also so many of them, that you can pick the ones that suit your interests.

  • How to Improve Your Listening Skills

Students often ask me ‘How do I improve my reading and listening skills?’ The short answer is ‘Read and listen more.’ However, this is not a very good answer because you need to know HOW to practice and WHERE to get good sources of reading and listening material.

  • Improving IELTS Listening through Connected Speech

Xem Thêm : IELTS Listening Sample 8. Section 1

This post will teach you about connected speech, the inadequacies of IELTS textbooks in preparing students for the listening test and suggest some alternatives for preparing from home.

IELTS Listening Practice

It’s vital that you practice your listening skills at home regularly and strategically. These lessons will teach you how to practice wisely and improve your listening skills at home.

  • IELTS Listening Practice

Here are some links to official IELTS practice tests:

  • The British Council
  • IDP
  • IELTS Official

Remember: DO NOT use practice tests from unofficial sites. These tests are created by people who do not know what they are doing. They are either too easy or too difficult. The tests will give you a false impression of your current level and will sabotage your progress.

Review Your IELTS Listening Practice Tests in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Complete official practice tests under exam conditions.
  2. Identify any particular question types that caused you problems.
  3. Analyse your mistakes.
  4. Think about why you made those mistakes. What were the particular reasons why you answered those questions incorrectly? Was it timing, strategy, vocabulary, grammar, listening skills, spelling?
  5. Focus on improving your weakest areas first.
  6. Repeat the process until you are consistently getting the score you need.
Image: IELTS-Listening-repeat-1

Calculating Your Band Score from Your Marks

You can calculate your Band score by counting up your marks out of 40 and comparing them with the scores below:

18-22- Band 5.5

23-25- Band 6.0

26-29- Band 6.5

30-31- Band 7.0

32-34- Band 7.5

Watch more: IELTS Listening Test Sample Papers 50

35-36- Band 8.0

37-38- Band 8.5

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39-40- Band 9.0

See the interactive tool below for the most commonly asked questions we receive about IELTS Listening:

IELTS Listening FAQs

How can I improve my listening?

You will find all the free materials, video lessons and practice tools that you’ll need on our Listening Page. It has lots of helpful articles that will help you succeed. Click the link below: Listening For a step-by-step guide to answering any IELTS Listening question type, you should join my free Fundamentals Course. You can learn more here:

IELTS Fundamentals Course: Free Course

Can I use all capital letters?

Yes, this is fine, as long as you are consistent with your answers.

How do I answer _____ questions?

You’ll find strategies for each question type listed on the page below:


How can I stay focused in the listening exam?

You’ll find a number of methods to help you stay focused in the Listening exam below:

Video Lesson: How to Stay Focused in the Listening Test

How many questions do I need to answer correctly?

That depends on the score you need to achieve. You’ll find help with calculating your score here:

IELTS Scores

Watch more: Listening Full Test 5 – Section 3


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