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IELTS Listening: Short Answer Questions

Prepare the questions below by underlining keywords and paraphrasing before you listen to the recording.

Reading City Travel Information

Questions 1-3

Answer using no more than two words and/or a number.

1. How long is the journey from Heathrow to Reading by express bus?
2. On the intercity from Paddington, which stop is Reading?
3. How long is the train journey from London to Reading?


  1. AN HOUR
    The length of time is given “it takes….”. It is common to be given two numbers in the same sentence – one number is the length and the other number is the frequency – pay attention to that and don’t get confused. The word “about” can’t be used due to the word limit.
  3. 30 MINS / 30 MINUTES (it is best to write numbers as digits rather than words – this avoids spelling mistakes which can cause you to lose a point)
There are a number of ways to get to Reading if that is your destination. If you are arriving by air the nearest airport is Heathrow and from there you can take the Railair express bus which runs every 20 mins and takes about an hour. Another London airport near Reading is Gatwick which is about 50 mins away by car or you could take the hourly train from the South Terminal which takes about 75mins. From London, you should travel from London Paddington station if you want to get to Reading and catch an intercity train. You should get off at the first stop. There are several trains running each hour and the travel time is about 30mins. (information from wiki)

You notice that I use all capital letters when I write my answers – this is the best way to write your answers for both reading and listening. See the IELTS Exam FAQ page for more information about IELTS



  1. Dear mam,

    This is to let you know that, this listening lesson is incorrectly listed in the “Practice Lessons for Reading Skills” section, of the page “ieltsliz.com/ielts-reading-lessons-information-and-tips”.

    I thought it would be a good idea to let you know about this, so that this could be fixed.

    Thanking you, for your wonderful lessons and your kind heart to share these for free !!!

  2. 30 ‘ could be correct?

  3. Thank you Liz for your valuable information on the site and in youtube. I have scored 7.5 band overall and L-7, R-8.5 W-7 S-7.5

  4. Hello Liz,

    Would you mind clearing my confusion I’ve had for many days? It is regarding an upper case and lower case for each start of an answer. For example, at every beginning of a short answer, should I write “about 1 hour” or “About 1 hour”?

  5. Hi liz
    It written not more that 2 words but the answer you mentioned is ‘about 1 hour’ aren’t its 3 words. Please correct if wrong

  6. sharan thota says:

    Hey Liz,
    1. 1hr
    2. 1st
    3. 30mins
    if i answer in this manner are they correct?

  7. You must be an angel Liz

  8. Yasir Ali says:

    Hi Liz
    First thank you very much for your valuable and useful lessons. It helped me a lot.
    My question is:
    In this practice, the instructions said that no more than two words and/or numbers
    Your answer for question is About 1 hour
    Can you elaborate how this goes with the instructions?
    Thanks in advance

  9. Hai Mam,
    Is it possible to write “an hour” in the first question?
    I am a beginner in IELTS. my exam is sheduled on july 7th.
    Is it possible for achieving a band 7 with this limited time period?

    • Always write the words you hear – never paraphrase.

      • Klint Gino Cutarra says:

        My result(s) – I have the same issue as Ann amongst all questions. Lesson is not to paraphrase and be mindful of the instruction(s).

        Thanks Liz and more powers!

  10. Muzammil says:

    Hi Liz,

    ‘Hourly’… is that a possible answer to question 3?
    Kindly help.

    Regards n Best wishes.

  11. Dear Liz,
    Thanks a lot for your help, not only for me but for thousands students, who are preparing themselves for the IELTS Exam and they are searching for materials. Specially for listening which represents a big difficulty and challenge for most of us.
    We appreciate it a lot

  12. thank to your lessons, I can improve my IELTS skills day by day.
    It’s really an useful site. Thanks a million!

  13. Thanx mam..its really helpful for me

  14. Rejitha says:

    Hi Liz,
    Is it okay to write all the answers in capitals for listening section.

  15. Dear Liz , I looove your videos , I found them very helpful and enjoyable …i have tried few times Toefl test but after I could not get the right score for the listening part and I have decided to try IELTS . I feel more comfortable with this type of test now and I enjoy studying more than before for Toefl. Do you give any tutoring sessions or Skype lessons , I would love to get in touch with you …thanks so much for everything you do , you are awesome …love your gorgeous smile by the way !

    Justina Salma

  16. Hi Ms. Liz
    For the first question, I answered “an hour” instead of “1 hour”, will it be fine?

    • You should write only what you hear. I have altered it to make it clearer and more accurate. Well spotted.
      All the best

      • In other listening tests I have been taking in your webpage, there has been answers that are not exactly the ones that I hear but taken out of logic. For example the one where I had to answer a girl`s nationality, I wrote Spain and the answer was “Spanish”, while what I heard was Spain. This confuses me..

        • As the word “Spain” is a country and not a nationality, it has to be changed. This is a rare exception to the rule.

  17. Ravinder Deol says:

    Hi Liz Greetings of the day . My problem is in the speaking module , its not that i don’t understand anything or have no ideas. i have the problem of pauses in between ‘ kindly suggest me in which way i can get rid of my Hickup ? It would really hepl in smothing my flow.

    • Firstly, develop plenty of ideas so that you have them ready to give. Secondly, practice speaking outloud at home. You can’t prepare speaking on paper. So start answering questions on your own and record your answers. Thirdly, ask the examiner to repeat the question is you need time to think (you can do this a few times without it affecting your score). Lastly, use fillers “what I mean is” or “what I’m trying to say is”. But the most important way to fix this is through practice: http://ieltsliz.com/develop-your-ielts-speaking-for-free/
      All the best

  18. supandeep singh hallan says:

    mam this is the best site because I’m working so its difficult to attend coaching classes but ur work is excellent because you touched the each and every sphere of weakness usually faced by students. Thanks for ur help. Thanks

  19. Noha Faisal says:

    Hi Liz, i really appreciate your effort , this website is really useful to practice for the exam ,, i wish to get 6.5 and above in the IELTS exam and i am not sure ultimately about my skills in the listening and reading exam ,, BTW i am studying by myself (without taking any courses ) can u advice me plzz
    And thankss

    • Work on writing a list of paraphrases which you have learned from all the listening and reading exercises. The more you know and the more you can spot, the better. Also develop techniques for each type of question for listening and reading. Also do practice tests to build speed and concentration.
      All the best

  20. Sorry to say this some of the audio clippings are not at all audible,for this reason I cud not able to hear properly.so am loosing the mark.can u do any necessary changes .thank u.

  21. Hello mam
    For the first question I have written “an hour “instead about hour will this be correct …????

  22. When i doing IELTS exams my answer and given answer varied, I wanted to know weather my answer is correct or not?

    Question: How did the students do their practical sessions?
    Answer: groups
    Content: We did these in small groups. I had to go and work four hours every week in a community pharmacy
    My Answer: small groups
    But word limit is no more than three words, is my answer wrong?

    In the second semester how often did kira work in a hospital?
    Answer: every 2 days
    Content: Then in second semester, we had to get experience in hospital dispensaries, so every second day we went to one of the big hospitals and worked there.
    My Answer: every second day

    please advice me

    • If it says no more than three words. It means that you can have one word, two words or three words but not more.
      All the best

      • Hi Liz,
        My answers are ‘small groups’ and ‘every second day’. My question was, my answers are different from test sheet. so i wanted to know whether will they accept my answer or not.


        • Without seeing the transcript and question paper, I can’t say.
          All the best

          • Those questions are from Listening module from IELTS Cambridge book-9, 4th exam. I have put transcript (text content) as well.
            My question is, if my answer has some additional words from actual answer sheet, will it be consider it as wrong or not. I took those as example.


            • Sorry, I don’t understand your question. Can you explain more clearly?

              • My answer and given answer (by Cambridge book-9) are little different. But concept wise both are same. If that so will they accept my answer or they are strict with given answer sheet?

                These are the scenarios:
                Question1: How did the students do their practical sessions?
                Given answer: groups
                My Answer: small groups
                Transcript: We did these in small groups. I had to go and work four hours every week in a community pharmacy

                Quesition2: In the second semester how often did kira work in a hospital?
                Answer: every 2 days
                My Answer: every second day
                Transcript: Then in second semester, we had to get experience in hospital dispensaries, so every second day we went to one of the big hospitals and worked there.


                • For the second example, you have changed what was written. You shouldn’t change the words even though the meaning might be the same. “2” and second” are not the same. “2” and “two” are the same. For the first example, I can’t say – you should contact IELTS.

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