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Are you asking yourself, “How can I improve my listening skills?” Here are 5 tips that will help you improve your listening skills and boost your score!

This is a question we hear all the time. In fact, most English learners lack confidence when it comes to their listening. It doesn’t help when most language textbooks use audio that is slow and completely unnatural.

If you’ve ever lived in an English-speaking country, you’d be familiar with the shock when you find yourself dropped into ‘real’ English situations.

In Australia, at the supermarket checkout for instance, the cashier might smile and say:

‘Hey haazitgawan?’


Huh? But the textbook told me people say, ‘Hello, how are you?’

So, obviously there’s a big gap between the English you learn in a textbook and the English you encounter in the real world. And the English used in the IELTS Listening test sits somewhere in between. It’s not ‘authentic’ but it’s also not abnormally slow or simple.

So, as you prepare for the Listening part of the IELTS, you need a two-pronged approach:

1) Master your test-taking skills, and

2) Improve your listening skills

With that in mind, here are 5 tips to boost your IELTS Listening score, take your language to the next level and just generally make your life better!

TIP 1: Improve your spelling


Spelling in IELTS is no joke. If you spell a word wrong, your answer is marked wrong. Yes, even if you just miss one letter!

So, if spelling is a problem for you, it’s time to knuckle down and give it some serious attention.


That’s the million-dollar question right? The good news is that when it comes to improving your spelling, the simplest methods are actually the best.

Method 1:

Be an active learner. Don’t just download a list of vocabulary and pat yourself on the back. You need to create a list of your problem words. Write the words out yourself. Not just once. Write them over and over and then review regularly. Take this simple process one step further by recording yourself reading a list of problem words. Then, give yourself a spelling test every day until you get a perfect score.

Record a list of your problem words and give yourself a spelling test.

Method 2:

Create spelling hacks. For words that you always get wrong, create a little story or ‘hack’ to help you remember the correct spelling.

Here are a few of our favourites:


Common errors: acomodation, acommadation, accomodation, etc etc!

Remember this little story: When I stay in 5-star accommodation, I like to eat CCs and MnMs.

CC’s and MnM’s. Two C’s (CCs) and two M’s (MnMs): Accommodation

Accommodation = CCs and MnMs!


Common error: Responsable, reponsable

Remember: I am responsible.


Common errors: necesary neccesary neccessary

Remember: When you go to a restaurant, a shirt is necessary. A shirt has one Collar (1 X C) and two Sleeves (2 X S).

One C and two S‘s: Necessary

Create ‘hacks’ to help you remember words like ‘necessary’.

TIP 2: Build your vocabulary


The more words you know, the better your score will be in the test. All the test-taking skills in the world cannot help you if your vocabulary is lacking. Luckily, learning new vocabulary is fun!


As with spelling, vocabulary building is not just about downloading a list of words and looking at it from time to time. Research shows that you need ‘meet’ a new word 17 times before it is incorporated into your long-term memory.

You can fast-track this with some simple strategies and/or tech:

  • Vocabulary book. Organise your book by topic. Add your new word along with the meaning, translation if necessary, pronunciation, part of speech AND create a simple, personal example sentence. For instance, if you are learning the word ‘lure’, your vocabulary entry might look like this:
  • Flashcards. Yes, physical flashcards. Write the word on one side and the meaning, on the other. Test yourself by a) looking at the word and saying the meaning or b) looking at the meaning and saying the word. Physically say the word out loud to really reinforce your memory.
  • Apps/websites. There are also loads of apps and websites to help you learn new words. Quizlet is an awesome and powerful app that gives you repeated exposure to new words in a variety of formats and games. It’s effective and super fun as well. Plus, you can search their library for all sorts of lists. Memrise is another great vocabulary app. It uses ‘mems’ or little visual clues to help you memorise new language. Like Quizlet, you get repeated exposure and lots of practice in a variety of fun ways.

With any of these strategies, be sure to review the words regularly. After your initial meeting, catch up again in around 30-90 minutes and then again later that day. Continue hanging out with your new word friends over the next few days and then make sure to meet again after a week, two weeks, a month and so on.

Check out some more vocab tips here.

TIP 3: Do practice tests


The IELTS Listening test follows a fairly standard format and it’s important that you know what to expect on test day.

Read more about each section here.


Of course, we have loads of practice material on As well as full tests, we also have practice on each question type you could get in the IELTS Listening test.

Plus, there are dozens of Cambridge tests online as well (jump on Google!) so be sure to spend some time working your way through these.

Tip 4: Don’t ONLY do practice tests!


It’s easy to get caught in the trap of simply taking test after test after test. But remember that you also need to work on your listening skills like predicting, avoiding distractors, catching details, identifying opinion.


The best way to do this is in our Live Classes where you get to do some practise in test conditions but also lots of vocabulary and skill-building. Plus you can ask our IELTS experts anything you like!

Get a taste of our live classes here.

TIP 5: Broaden your audio diet


Preparing for the IELTS Listening test can actually be enjoyable and educational. Even as teachers, we are constantly learning new things while doing listening tests or preparing lessons on this skill. And with the proliferation of podcasts, the menu of material is wider than ever and all here at the click of a button.


Jump on your Podcasts app if you have an iphone or download Stitcher if you’re on an android and explore the magical world of pods! Here are some of our fave podcasts here at E2:

TED Talk Daily

Future Tense

Ockham’s Razor

Plus, of course, our very own podcast, E2Talks!

Got your own favourite? Comment below!

So, grab your flashcards, your vocab book and your phone, and get cracking! Remember too that you’re not alone on your IELTS journey. We’re here to help you conquer the exam, do more and be more. Join us today!

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