English proficiency Exam

IELTS Listening Test and Tips

7 min read
Blog Summary Dreaming of studying abroad? To excel in the IELTS exam's listening section, grasp what's ahead. This blog offers vital insights and easy tips for this crucial phase. The test assesses your grasp of concepts, opinions, and details, requiring responses based on recordings. Four recordings await – chats, monologues, academic insights, and group talks. Know how to prepare for the 40 questions in 30 minutes.

As a student aspiring to study abroad, one of your top concerns will be to nail each section of the IELTS exam to get your desired band score for admission. This blog focuses on what to expect in the IELTS listening test and gives you some IELTS listening tips to ace this section.

The IELTS listening test checks your capacity to understand key concepts, detailed factual information, speaker opinions and attitudes, among other things. Examiners will be looking for proof of your ability to comprehend and follow the development of ideas. You will be required to respond in writing to a series of questions after listening to four recordings of fluent English speakers. Continue reading to get a comprehensive understanding of the IELTS listening test section. 

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IELTS Listening Test Format

IELTS Listening Test Format 

4 recordings 

IELTS Listening Test Time 

30 minutes 

IELTS Listening Test Questions

40 questions 

The following table will give you an idea of what to expect in each IELTS listening test recordings:

IELTS Listening Test Recording 1

A conversation between two people that takes place in a regular social context 

IELTS Listening Test Recording 2

A monologue that takes place in a typical social setting

IELTS Listening Test Recording 3

A conversation happening among a group of people (up to 4 members) in an educational or training

IELTS Listening Test Recording 4

A monologue on an academic subject

Read more: IELTS Exam Syllabus and Pattern 

IELTS Listening Test Question Types 

You must have a solid understanding of the various question types that will be asked in the 

IELTS listening test and practise them independently if you want to do well on the test day. You can understand the different IELTS listening test question types and the skills being evaluated from the table below:

IELTS Listening Test Question Types 

IELTS Listening Skills Tested

Multiple choice 

A variety of skills are tested, and you need to have a thorough understanding of some details or a general comprehension of the listening text's key ideas.

Sentence Completion 

It tests your capacity to spot the important details in a hearing text. You must be able to understand functional relationships such as cause and effect.

Plan, Map, Diagram Labelling 

This tests your capacity to comprehend, for instance, a place description and connect it to a visual representation. Being able to follow verbal cues for directions, such as "straight on," "turn left," and "opposite," may fall under this category.


This tests your ability to listen carefully and determines if you can follow a discourse over a common subject. It evaluates your capacity to follow a two-person conversation as well. It can also gauge how well you can identify links and interconnections among the data in the listening text.

Form, Note, Table, Flow Chart, Summary Completion 

The essential points that a listener would naturally note down in such a circumstance are the main focus of this task.

Short Answer Questions 

It focuses on the test taker’s ability to listen for specific data in the listening text, such as locations, costs, or timeframes.

Know more: IELTS Reading Question Types and Tips 

IELTS Listening Score Chart 

In the IELTS listening test, one point is assigned to each of the 40 questions. You can obtain an IELTS listening score ranging from 0 to 9 points, depending on how many points you earn. The IELTS listening score chart below will help you understand how you are awarded your IELTS listening band score.

IELTS Listening Score Chart 

IELTS Listening Band Score 





























IELTS Listening Tips 

Though the IELTS listening section can seem challenging, you can easily ace it with ample practice. Here are some IELTS listening tips that can help you score well:

IELTS Listening Tip 1 - Improve your listening skills

The best way to prepare for the IELTS Listening test is to complete various listening activities first, then listen to general listening materials (radio reports, TV programmes, documentaries, etc.). IELTS listening practice tests alone will only help you get familiar with the exam pattern. To improve your listening skills, you must practice various listening activities and listen to different materials like radio reports, TV programmes, documentaries, etc. 

IELTS Listening Tip 2 - Familiarise yourself with different accents 

The IELTS listening test exposes you to accents from different English-speaking nations, including the UK, USA, and New Zealand. Make a note of the accents that you find more challenging as you study and take mock exams. After this accent is recognised, it will be helpful to concentrate on listening to them on podcasts or live news.

IELTS Listening Tip 3 - Learn to stay focused and develop concentration

Although it can be challenging to maintain concentration during the IELTS listening test, it is crucial if you want to receive a band 7 or higher. You need to get better at active listening if you want to concentrate better. For this, give yourself manageable tasks during practice sessions and act upon what you hear exactly as you will throughout the test.

IELTS Listening Tip 4 - Make sure to follow the given instructions

Carefully study the directions in the IELTS listening test section and answer accordingly. Check if a single word, a pair of words, or a numeric entry is required. If the question specifies “No more than three words”, then an answer containing four words will be considered incorrect. Remember that the listening test examines your hearing and comprehension abilities. So be sure to double-check and adhere to the directions for each part before entering the answers on the answer sheet. 

IELTS Listening Tip 5 - Don't leave out any questions 

Answer all questions even if you are unsure of the response. Make an educated guess after reading the question; you might be lucky since there are no negative marks! Also, ensure you record the proper response next to the appropriate question number when entering the answers into the answer sheet. 

Related reads:

Tips on How to Prepare for IELTS 

IELTS Exam Dates and Centres 

IELTS Writing Test 

IELTS Speaking Test and Tips 

IELTS Exam Dates and Fees in Nepal

IELTS Exam Dates and Fees in the Philippines

Frequently Asked Questions

Is IELTS listening difficult?

The fourth section, which is a monologue on a scholarly subject, is usually found difficult by most students. For instance, it can be a lecture by a university professor.