IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening: Introduction

The IELTS Listening module consists of four sections. In each section you will hear a recording of a monologue or conversation. Each recording lasts around five minutes. See below for information on all four sections.

While listening, you have to answer ten questions, which can be multiple choice, short answer, or filling in the gaps in a sentence, diagram, or data table. There is additional time at the end of the test to write your final answers on the answer sheet.

The Listening module is the same in both the academic and general training versions of IELTS. The Listening module lasts around 35 minutes and is the first part of the test.

IELTS Listening Section 1: General conversation

Time: 5 mins approx. Questions: 10

Examples: An interview about student wellbeing; A telephone conversation about buying travel tickets; A student asking about accommodation.

IELTS Listening Section 2: General talk

Time: 5 mins approx. Questions: 10

Examples: A radio programme about local history; A short talk about healthy eating; A presentation about student services.

IELTS Listening Section 3: Academic conversation

Time: 5 mins approx. Questions: 10

Examples: A discussion between a student and a tutor about an assignment; A seminar discussion about a research project; Two students discussing homework.

IELTS Listening Section 4: Academic lecture

Time: 5 mins approx. Questions: 10

Examples: A lecture on the history of photography; A lecture on volcanoes; A lecture on animal behaviour. (You do not need any knowledge of these topics to answer the questions.)

After listening

You then have 10 minutes to transfer your 40 answers from the question paper to the answer sheet. You must use a pencil and any spelling errors will be penalised.

How IELTS Listening answers are scored

A human examiner marks your answers. You get one point for each correct answer, giving you a ‘raw score’ out of 40. This is converted into a ‘band score’ from 0 to 9. For example, you need 30 correct answers to get a band score of 7.0.

Five key exam techniques for IELTS Listening

1. Predict answers before you listen. This helps you to identify the type of information required and leads to ‘targeted listening’.

2. Identify parallel meaning. Be ready to make the connection between what the speaker says and what the question asks.

3. Check grammar carefully. In sentence completion tasks, you may need to change the speaker’s words to make them fit the question grammatically.

4. Practice using different skills at the same time. You will need to use reading, listening and writing skills at the same time during the listening section of IELTS.

5. Improve your spelling. Your answer may be marked incorrect if not spelt correctly.

Now practice IELTS Listening

There are many real IELTS Listening samples available for download on the official IELTS website. On this site you can find many useful IELTS Listening practice opportunities. Use them!