IELTS Listening Essential 25 Tips

The essential IELTS listening tips and information for success in your test. Learn the right listening techniques with over 25 top tips to help you achieve a high score. Learn about the listening exam content, writing the answers correctly, types of questions, scoring, making notes and much more. This is A MUST WATCH video lesson for all IELTS students.

Capital letters in IELTS listening. You can write in capital letters or lower case – your choice.  My recommendation is to use all capital letters as it is easier to read and avoids mistakes.

Watch the video first and then read through the summary of listening tips below.

IELTS Video: Listening Tips

IELTS Speaking Test Summary

  1. All students take the same test. Both academic and GT students take the same listening test. It is marked in the same way.
  2. There are 40 questions
  3. There are 4 sections
    1. Section 1 = two speakers. This is often a telephone conversation between two people, for example organising a place on a course, booking a table at a restaurant or renting an apartment. You must listen for specific information, such as names (tips on listening for names), dates, times (tips on listening for time), places and numbers.
    2. Section 2 = one speaker. This is often a talk from a guide. You might hear information about a building, a resort, a company, a charity etc.
    3. Section 3 = three or four speakers. This is an academic discussion. It could either be two students talking with a professor or a student presenting their resource to their colleagues.
    4. Section 4  = one speaker. This is an academic lecture.
  4. The sections get more difficult as the test progresses. This means section 1 is the easiest and section 4 is the most difficult.
  5. The listening test is 40 mins.
    1. 30 minutes to listen to the recording and write down your answer on the question paper.
    2. 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet.
  6. IELTS is an international test. There will be a range of accents but the main accents will probably be British and Australian.
  7. IELTS accept either British English or American English spelling.

IELTS Listening Top Tips

  1. The recording will be played only once. You will not hear it a second time.
    1. You must practice completing a full listening test by listening only once before your test. You should do this a number of times.
    2. When you are developing skills and vocabulary, you might want to practice listening more than once. This is fine when you are in training.
  2. You will need to multitask. This means you must be able to read the questions, listen for the answer and write down words all at the same time. You should practice doing this.
  3. Practice transferring your answers to the answer sheet at home before your test. Here is a link to download the IELTS listening answer sheet.
  4. You should write your answers on the answer sheet using  pencil not a pen. This is the same as the IELTS reading test.
  5. Scores are calculated by the number of points you got correct. Here is a link to learn all about the IELTS band scores: IELTS Band Scores Explained. You don’t lose a mark if your answer is wrong. Your score will not change due to incorrect answers.
  6. If you don’t know an answer, guess. Always write something in the box on your answer sheet. Who knows, maybe you guess right !!
  7. You can write your answer using capital or lower case letters.  However, I recommend using all capital letters. See the official IELTS website to confirm the use or lower or upper case: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/test-day-advice/listening-test-advice. 
  8. Check the number of words you can have for your answer. Each time the question type changes, the number of words for the answer might change too. Here is an example of instructions: “No more than two words and/or a number”. To learn exactly what these instructions mean, please watch the video lesson above.
  9. Check the instructions to see if you can have a number (which means only one) or numbers (plural which means more than one number).
  10. How words and numbers are calculated:
    1. A date “1950” is considered one number.
    2. A large number “1,000,500” is considered one word.
    3. A hyphenated word “part-time” is considered one word.
    4. A compound noun which is not hyphenated “tennis shoe” is considered two words.
  11. “at the hospital” or “hospital”. Should you write the article and preposition? Your answer will depend on the type of question you have. If you are completing the sentence, for example:
    1. The best place to meet is ………. = the answer must be grammatically correct so you need “at the hospital”.
    2. If the question is a note or form completion, such each 1) PLACE: …… = the answer can be just one word (with or without the article) “hospital” or “the hospital” (if two words are possible.
  12. SPELLING!!! If your answer is spelled wrong, the answer is marked wrong. You must have the correct spelling to get a point and have the answer marked correct.
    1. Don’t worry about spelling while you are listening because you don’t have time to concentrate on spelling. You need to concentrate on listening to the recording and following the questions.
    2. Check your spelling when you transfer your answers to the answer sheet. That is the time to check and make sure everything is correct.
  13. Writing letters or words. If you get a multiple choice question, it will ask you to write down the letter as your answer. For example:
    1. a) spring
    2. b) summer
    3. c) winter
    4. If the answer is b, you must write “b” on your answer sheet not “summer”. The word “summer” would be marked wrong because the instructions ask you to write a letter not a word.
  14. IELTS Listening Question Types
    1. form completion
    2. note completion
    3. summary completion
    4. sentence completion
    5. multiple choice
    6. diagram labelling
    7. map labelling
    8. table completion
    9. form chart
    10. If you want practice with these types of question, go to my IELTS listening page.
  15. Don’t try to understand everything. IELTS will add lots of extra information but you only need to listen for answers. Keep yourself focused on listening for answers to questions.
  16. Answers may come quickly. You might get three answers in a very short time. Get ready to write your answers down quickly. Answers may come slowly. There may be a gap between answers. Don’t panic. This is common in section 4.
  17. Look out for answers which are plural. IELTS know that students have difficulty hearing the plural “s”. So, these answers will certainly be given to test your listening ability.
  18. Common Problems
    1. Giving the answer and then changing it. Here is an example: “Is it ok to meet at 7pm?” / “Yes, 7pm works fine for me” / “Oh I’ve just remembered I have a late meeting, could we make it half past instead?” The answer was 7pm but then the speaker changed it to 7.30pm. Always keep listening and be ready for the speaker to change the answer.
    2. Similar words might not be the right answer. Watch this video about IELTS listening multiple choice to understand this tip.
  19. If you miss an answer, just move on to the next question. Don’t waste time. Don’t lose your place in the recording.
  20. CONCENTRATE!!! 30 minutes is a long time to actively listen for answers. If you lose focus, you will miss answers. Don’t let that happen to you. Practice full tests at home to build up your ability to concentrate.

For more tips and explanations – please watch the video above.

Do you have a question about IELTS listening or about the IELTS test? This page has over 100 answers to your questions: IELTS Test FAQ

Improve your IELTS listening for free with this practice lessons: IELTS Listening Lessons

Links

Main IELTS Pages

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Listening Practice for Addresses

IELTS listening practice for addresses. It is common to be asked to write down addresses in IELTS listening section 1. This exercises offers you a chance to practice.

Listening Practice: 10 Addresses

  • Listen to 10 addresses
  • Write down what you hear
  • Not all addresses will be spelled
  • Only street names which are difficult will be spelled

Before you listen, do you know the different types of streets in England? For example, road, lane, street, avenue… How many do you know? Be prepared for addresses that might be new for you.

 

Answers
  1. 150 Church Street
  2. 68C Bridge Lane
  3. 52 Burlington Road
  4. 3 West Street
  5. 94A Notts Way
  6.  Flat 2, 24 Sleet Street
  7. 63 Green Avenue
  8. 54 Station Road
  9. 102 Seaview Crescent
  10. 41 Drummond Square

See this page about using capital letters and for other test information: IELTS Exam FAQ

 

Recommended Listening Lessons

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

 

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Spelling Practice for IELTS Listening: City Names

Spelling practice for city names and other place names, such as towns. Improve your listening and spelling by listening to the spelling of particular places and writing down the letters you hear. This is important practice for IELTS listening section 1.

Writing down the letters you hear. The place names will be given and then spelled. Each place name will be spelled only once. There are 15 place names to write down.

Listen & Write: 15 Town & City Names

 

Answers
  1. Birmingham
  2. Carlisle
  3. Chichester
  4. Leicester
  5. Peterborough
  6. Truro
  7. Wolverhampton
  8. Amersham
  9. Framlingham
  10. Gillingham
  11. Goole
  12. Ormskirk
  13. Painswick
  14. Rochdale
  15. Sawbridgeworth

 

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Alphabet Practice for Spelling

Alphabet practice for spelling is designed to review the pronunciation of letters for accurate spelling. It’s an easy lesson but worth reviewing to refresh your pronunciation and accuracy for IELTS listening section 1.

Alphabet Review

 A  B   C   D  E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L  M   N   O   P   Q  R   S   T   U  V   W   X   Y   Z  

 

Similar Letters Practice

Listen to the pronunciation of the following similar letters.

  1.  B / P
  2. D / T
  3. S / X
  4. J / G
  5. M / N
  6. K / Q
  7. U / Y
  8. V / W
  9. Z (UK pronunciation & US pronunciation)

 

Practice Listening for Letters

Write down the letter you hear. There will be 15 letters given. Each letter will be said only once.

 

Answers
  1. S
  2. T
  3. P
  4. R
  5. U
  6. G
  7. I
  8. A
  9. Q
  10. X
  11. J
  12. B
  13. C
  14. F
  15. N

 

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Brain Drain Listening Practice

This listening lesson has two different types of questions: list selection and sentence completion. This will also test your ability to know when to move from one question to the next. Make sure you use this lesson to also learn useful vocabulary because the brain drain is a common topic in writing task 2.

Questions 1-3

Which three reasons are given for the brain drain? Choose the correct letters A-G.

  • A) money
  • B) promotion opportunities
  • C) working with other professionals
  • D) quality of life
  • E) state-of-the-art equipment
  • F) political advancement
  • G) unemployment

Question 4

What problem does the brain drain cause developing countries? Choose one letter.

  • A) resentment
  • B) loss of facilities
  • C) conflict between remaining professionals
  • D) loss of reputation
  • E) loss of money
  • F) loss of materials

Question 5

Complete the sentence using no more than one word and/or a number.

In 2000, …….. million people, who were living outside their country of origin for more than one year, were employed.

Answers
  1. A
  2. D
  3. E (answers to questions 1-3 can be given in any order)
  4. E
  5. 65
  Transcript
Brain drain is the migration of skilled human resources for trade, education, health care and other sectors. Trained health professionals are needed in every part of the world. However, better standards of living draw many of them to more developed countries. Others decide to make the move because of better remuneration or for access to advanced modern technology.  For some the stable political conditions in the developed countries attract talent from less developed areas. The majority of migration is from developing to developed countries. This is of growing concern worldwide because of its impact on the health care systems in developing countries. These countries have invested in the education and training of young health professionals. This translates into a loss of considerable resources when these people migrate, with the benefit accruing to the recipient states who have not forked out to educate them. The intellectuals of any country are some of the most expensive resources because of their training in terms of material cost and time, and most importantly, because of lost opportunity. In 2000 almost 175 million people, or 2.9% of the world’s population, were living outside their country of birth for more than a year. Of these, about 65 million were economically active. This form of migration has in the past involved many health professionals: nurses and physicians have sought employment abroad for many reasons including high unemployment in their home country. (read more about this)

 

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Listening Practice for Numbers

This lesson focuses on listening for numbers. There are three sections of listening and each section has 10 questions. Make sure you have a pencil and paper ready.

Write down the numbers you hear. Each listening has 10 or 9 numbers.

Numbers 1 to 100

Answers
  1. 8
  2. 13
  3. 50
  4. 24
  5. 47
  6. 86
  7. 19
  8. 97
  9. 17
  10. 29

Numbers from 100 to 1,000

Answers
  1. 116
  2. 196
  3. 332
  4. 480
  5. 390
  6. 830
  7. 901
  8. 642
  9. 589
  10. 772

Numbers from 1,000 to 1,000,000

Answers
  1. 2,350
  2. 6,719
  3. 10,300
  4. 80,500 (this one is missing from the audio)
  5. 65,000
  6. 12,450
  7. 15,000
  8. 28,560
  9. 990,999

 

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New Year in Vietnam: IELTS Listening Practice

This is an IELTS listening exercise which I have made for my Vietnamese students about their wonderful New Year’s celebration called Tết. It is a sentence completion practice so you will need to fill in the gaps as you listen. Remember to read the questions before listening to the audio. Answers do come in order.Tet IELTS listening

Tết Holiday (Vietnamese New Year)

Listening Practice

Complete the sentences using no more than three words.

  1. Another name for Tết is ……………….
  2. One typical dish at this time is a soup which is made from ………………..
  3. Lucky money is given to ………….. and …………………
  4. Before Tết, people buy ……….. trees and ………. blossom to adorn their house.
  5. …………  the house is forbidden during Tết.

Transcript

Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Vietnamese calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Vietnamese people consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called spring festival.

Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. These foods include square rice cake, Vietnamese sausage, dried young bamboo soup, sticky rice and boiled chicken. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year, ancestral worship, wishing New Year’s greetings and giving lucky money to children and elderly people.

There are certain things to observe during Tết and certain things to avoid. Houses are thoroughly cleaned in preparation for Tết. People buy kumquat trees and peach blossom to decorate their houses. There are dragon or lion dances in the streets. New clothes should be bought for every member of the family. And on New Year’s Eve, the kitchen god, Ong Tao, is welcomed back to the kitchen. On the other hand, somethings must be avoided. Sweeping during Tết is taboo and considered to be unlucky, since it symbolizes sweeping away the luck; that is why they clean before the new year. It is also taboo for anyone who experienced a recent loss of a family member to visit anyone else during Tết.

Note: I made a mistake in the audio in the second sentence. I said Chinese instead of Vietnamese. Sorry to all my Vietnamese students for that. Liz

 Answers
  1. spring festival
  2. bamboo / young bamboo / dried young bamboo
  3. children elderly people (you need all three words correct for one point)
  4. kumquat peach (both answers needed for one point)
  5. sweeping (no capital letter is needed, see IELTS Exam FAQ page)
 Vocabulary
  • arises = happens
  • it is often called = it is frequently named
  • ancestral worship = praying to ancestors (past family members)
  • to observe = to follow (this is when relating to celebrations or festivals)
  • sweeping = using a brush to clean the floor
  • luck (noun) / lucky (adjective)
  • taboo = forbidden

Other Vocabulary

square cake

square cake (bánh chưng) = A cake which is made from sticky rice, mung bean and pork wrapped in leaves.

kumquat

kumquat = A small citrus fruit similar to an orange. Both peel and flesh is eaten.

peach_blossom

peach blossom = flowers on a peach tree

 

Happy New Year to all students in China and Vietnam as well as any others who are currently celebrating Lunar New Year. Wishing you all the best in the year to come. Liz

If you would like me to make a lesson about a festival or part of your culture, please let me know the details by posting a comment in the box below. Regards, Liz.

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Dealing with Natural Disasters: Listen and Write

One way to improve your writing is to listen to someone reading an academic piece of writing and writing down what they say. This exercise is called dictation. Listen to someone reading a paragraph from their academic essay about dealing with natural distasters and write down what they say. This will test your ability to

  • listen and write down the correct words
  • listen and write down the correct grammar
  • spell words correctly
  • to punctuate your writing with commas and full stops in the right place

Listen and Write Down

Listen to the recording below and write down what you hear. Post your writing in the comments box below to compare with other students.

The Best Way to Deal with Natural Disasters

Natural Disaster = tsunami, typhoon, earthquake etc

Answer

You can find the full transcript and answer in the comments box. I posted the transcript in a comments box – scroll through and take a look.

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