Listening – Tips

  • Ensure your equipment is clear: If you cannot hear the recordings clearly, make sure you advise the examiner immediately, not after the test.
  • Use your time wisely: Understand the structure and timing of the test prior to attempting. You can then spend your time on the test, not on trying to understand the structure.  
  • IELTS Listening can be done on the computer: At some test venues, the IELTS listening test can now be taken on a computer.
  • Know how the IELTS listening test is structured: This will assist you in evaluating things prior to the test day
  • Listen for detail: Learn strategies to listen for the detail in the test
  • Read questions before listening: You will have time at the beginning of each section to read the questions before the recording starts. Take this time to read each question carefully. This may help you identify the subject matter, and will help you to follow the recording and identify the answers.
  • Know the orders: Although each question will be in the order of the recording, the answers in the questions may not be in the order.
  • Read the directions carefully: Sometimes there is a specific requirement for your answer such as word limits. Sometimes they say “no more than one word” or “no more than two words” or “your answer must be a letter”. Writing more than the word limit will mean your answer will be marked wrong, even if some of the words are correct.
  • Pay attention to keywords: Identify the keywords in the questions and then try to listen for synonyms (words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as another word) from the recording to help you identify the answer.
  • Look for meanings rather than exact words: Although you are looking for synonyms, sometimes the leaning comes in the sentence structure rather than the individual words.
    • -For example, in the recording, you might hear: “She likes playing sport and going to the gym.  On your answer sheet, this could appear as “She is an active person.”
  • Listen to words that are spelt: Don’t think you know how a word is spelt/spelled, if they offer a spelling. Sometimes it may be a person’s name or another alternative spelling. You may be asked to write down words that are being spelt out in the recording. Listen carefully the spelling of words when offered.
  • Listen carefully for markers: Markers will indicate which stage of the recording you are listening to, e.g. ‘firstly’, ‘my next point’, ‘in conclusion’. These words will help you identify which question you have reached.
  • Crossing out options that don’t fit may be a strategy you wish to employ to make it easier for you to find the right answer.
  • Dates: There are several correct ways to write dates (e.g. 25th May, May 25 and 25 May are all correct).
  • Avoid Distractions: Try to concentrate on the test and not be distracted by other things.
  • Don’t dwell on a question: If there is a question or questions you cannot answer leave them and move on. Don’t panic and stay positive, at the end go back to those questions, if you have time.
  • Always think ahead: After completing each section, think ahead, not back. Prepare for the next recording don’t worry about the last section, and don’t make the mistake of transferring your answers onto the answer sheet between recordings. You will have 10 minutes at the end to transfer answers onto the answer sheet (In the paper-based IELTS test only)
    • -Note: There are no 10 minutes of transfer time for computer-delivered IELTS.
  • Answer every Question: Try to put an answer in every question, as you will not have marks subtracted for an incorrect answer.
  • Expect confusion: Don’t expect the answer will be exactly as it is in the question.
  • Listen for gist: You will not have time to listen to every word. Try to understand the gist (essence) of the passage. Listen to the context of the passage.
  • Expect Negatives: Like confusion, the answer may be in the form of a negative in the recording.
  • Look for the title on the question paper. This will assist you to understand the topic
  • Spelling is important: If a word is misspelt, it is marked as wrong.
  • Review and Proofread: If you finish early, reread, and review, check your work, grammar and spelling. Sometimes reading something after writing will assist you in finding mistakes, improving accuracy.
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