Try for FREE now!

The Ultimate IELTS Listening Tips

You’ve probably read a lot of IELTS Listening Tips out there or watched millions of videos on how to boost your score in IELTS Listening. But have you digested them, really? It’s serious than what you think it is. We’ll tell you everything that we know in this blog!

What is the IELTS Listening Test Format?

There are four parts to the IELTS listening test. Each part is about a different topic and gets increasingly more difficult.

The first audio is usually an informal dialogue in a social or everyday situation. For example, a conversation about opening a bank account, or someone inquiring about accommodation or a training course.

The second audio is usually a non-academic monologue. This could be one person giving information on something such as a guided museum tour, information about a conference or tourist information.

The third audio is usually a discussion (between 3-4 people) related to education/training. This may be a discussion between 2 students and a tutor about a group assignment, or among a group of students talking about a project.

The fourth and final audio is usually a university style lecture. This could be related to any academic topic.

Remember to speak to the examiner immediately if you’re having audio problems! 

IELTS listening tips
Listen carefully to the audio sounds, if you cannot hear the audio well, you might need to invest in some bigger ears!

New call-to-action

Summary of the Listening Test

  1.  Part 1 – Social context (2 speakers)
  2.  Part 2 – Social context (1 speaker)
  3.  Part 3 – Education/training (2-4 speakers)
  4.  Part 4 – Academic context (1 speaker)

No specialist subject knowledge is necessary. All the answers you need will be provided in the recordings.

The total test time is 40 minutes: 30 minutes of listening, and 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the test sheet onto the answer sheet. There will be 40 questions in total.

Helpful Hints for IELTS Listening

Before we move down to the actual IELTS Listening Tips, you need to keep in mind that the IELTS listening answer sheet is a very important piece of paper! Your listening scores are calculated according to what you have written on your answer sheet. Therefore, you must make sure you have completed your answer sheet before the end of the time allocated and filled it incorrectly.

When transferring your answers from your test booklet to your answer sheet, there are some important things to consider.

Hint #1 Grammar

Incorrect grammar will cost you points. So, be careful with things like plural and singular nouns. There may be clues such as an indefinite article in front of the blank space for the answer which would indicate the answer is a singular noun. Also, be careful with tenses and subject/verb agreement. If the answer is second person singular, don’t forget the ‘s’ at the end of the noun.

Take care with verb tenses. An incorrect noun form or verb tense will be considered an incorrect answer (even if your answer is right!). Capitalization of proper nouns is also important. For example, names of countries, cities or geographical locations (among other things) must be capitalized. For example, if you write “Australia” as “australia” your answer will be marked as incorrect.

Hint #2 Spelling

The same goes for spelling. Incorrect spelling will be marked as an incorrect answer. So, take care.

Hint #3 Handwriting

Although you may feel rushed for time, handwriting is important. If the examiner cannot read what you have written, it will be marked incorrect.

Hint #4 Use all capitals

If you have messy handwriting or aren’t sure which words you need to capitalize, it might be safer to write your answers in all CAPITALS. For one, words written in all capitals are usually neater and easier to read. Also, you don’t have to worry about losing marks for not capitalizing a word that needs to be capitalized.

Here’s a sample IELTS Listening Short Answer Lesson:

Check out more IELTS Listening Short Answer Lessons here

IELTS Listening Tips

Here are some important IELTS Listening Tips to remember:

Tip #1: 

You will be given some time to read the questions before each recording is played. Read the questions very carefully as you will hear each recording only once, so you want to be familiar with the questions before you hear the recording

Tip #2:

As you listen, write your answers in your test booklet and then transfer them at the end of the listening test. You will be given 10 minutes to do this. Be sure to check that you have transferred your answers correctly and remember to check your spelling and grammar. Also, be sure to complete your answer sheet. An incomplete answer sheet means an incomplete score.

Tip #3:

Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything you hear. Listen out for the keywords from the questions and focus on what you need to be listening out for.

Tip #4:

If you miss a question, don’t dwell on it because you may miss the answer to the next one. So, if you miss one, move on.

Tip #5:

Make sure you follow the word count in the instructions of each question. For example, if the instructions say “write no more than one word” and you write “the train” instead of “train”, your answer will be marked as incorrect.

Tip #6:

There is no negative marking, so you will just get a zero for an incorrect or incomplete answer.

Tip #7:

Those are our IELTS Listening Tips! Always cross check your answers from your answer sheet to your listening booklet.

Adopt these useful strategies on How To Develop Your IELTS Vocabulary. 

The IELTS Listening and Reading Test Sheet

IELTS Listening Tips
View this sample of the IELTS Listening and Reading answer sheet from the British Council.

Written by Jamal A.

Did you know there, you can also get access to hundreds of IELTS practice  materials, lesson videos, and attend FREE Live Class with E2Language? SIGN UP FREE.


All Comments 7
  • Hi there!
    I have a question regarding articles in form completion type of tasks. When I practice listening at home, I have problems with whether or not to write articles. For example, according to the task, I should write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR NUMBERS (Section 1):
    Special diet: 6………………..
    Other requirements: 7…………………
    In the recording I heard (even then verified with the tapescript) the article A in both cases, and since I can write up to 3 words, I wrote 6. a vegetarian; 7. a real garden. However, the keys suggest 6. vegetarian (without a) and 7. (a) real garden (which means either is ok). I am confused. What’s the difference?
    Thank you in advance

    • Welcome! We have free live classes almost everyday! It seems like you have already signed up with us! That’s a good start!
      Next, please sign in to your E2 student platform. There you will see a class calendar in the centre of the main page. Choose the class that you would like to join and click “Register.” Note: the class time is in YOUR timezone. Please see our FAQ page, “How do I join a Live Class?” for a detailed instruction. Good luck! Let us know how you go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.