Listening – Overview

Overview of the IELTS Listening Test

  • Listening is the same for Academic and General Training.
  • The IELTS Listening test lasts around 40 minutes.
  • 30 minutes for the test and 10 minutes at the end to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
  • There is a total of 40 questions in total and each question is worth the same mark
  • The Listening test is divided into 4 sections and the sections get progressively more difficult as the test goes on.
  • Each section has 10 questions
  • Each section is heard only once and is not repeated.
  • There will be a range of accents
  • Timing is key. At different intervals, you will be given time to look at the questions before the recording begins.

Listening Test

In the Listening section of the test, there are no common topics, however, there is a common format. Sections 1 and 2 are general in content, generally, things you would expect to hear in an English-speaking country. Section 3 and 4 follow more of an education/academic line.

Sections 1 and 2 are about every day, social situations.

Section 1: is a conversation between two speakers (for example, a conversation about booking a hotel, or a phone conversation)

Section 2: is very likely a monologue of one person, this could be a speech, a tour guide or an announcement. Some people find it difficult to listen to one person talking the whole time, as there is no change or confirmation from another person. This part calls for concentration and the ability to listen to one person with a different accent.

Sections 3 and 4 are about educational, university and/or training situations

Section 3: is very likely a party of more than one person, usually 3 or 4. Although they are referred to as academic subjects, they non-personal and generally less familiar. (for example, a discussion between two students, perhaps guided by a tutor, or a group of people working on a project). In this section, you need to be able to keep track of multiple speakers, probably in a subject you may be unfamiliar with. You may need to keep up with who is talking, their names, their gender, and various other things all at the same time.

Section 4: is very likely a speech, talking about an academic topic, such as a lecture. It is often the most difficult of all the 4 sections. First, don’t panic if you don’t understand everything. Focus on keywords and the synonyms of those keywords, and follow along as the person talks.

Each section will begin with a short introduction telling the test taker about the speakers and the situation. The test takers then have some time to look through the questions. The questions are in the same order as the information in the recording. At the end of the test, the test taker is given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to an answer sheet.

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