IELTS Listening: Information (FAQ)

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about IELTS listening. If you can’t find the information you want, then post me a question at the bottom of the page. If you want the key tips and information for listening in a video, see this page:

    1. How many sections are there? Answer
      There are 4 sections in the IELTS listening test. Section 1 and 2 are based on social situations while sections 3 and 4 are academic.
    2. Does everyone take the same test or are there different listening tests? Answer
      There is only one listening test for everyone.
    3. How many questions are there? Answer
      There are a total of 40 questions in the listening test. 10 questions in each section.
    4. How long is the listening test? Answer
      The IELTS listening test lasts for 40 minutes. You listen to the recording and answer the questions for 30 minutes. After that you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
    5. How many times will I be able to listen to the recording? Answer
      You only get a chance to listen once to the recording. So make sure you prepare the questions well and that you concentrate.
    6. What is the listening answer sheet? Answer
      You will have time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet when you have finished listening. You will have an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answer to the answer sheet. You should practice using the answer sheet at home before you take the test.
    7. How can I find my score for listening? Answer
      Here is a list of points for band scores 6-8 (visit the listening band scores page for all scores)
      • band score 6 = 23 correct answers out of 40
      • band score 7 = 30 correct answers out of 40
      • band score 8 = 35 correct answers out of 40
    8. Do I lose a point if my answer is wrong? Answer
      No, you don’t lose a point for a wrong answer. So, never leave an empty space on your answer sheet – always have a guess.
    9. Do the answers come in order? Answer
      It depends on the type of question. For some questions the answers are in order, for other types they are not. Read through my blog to find out.
    10. Will I have time to read the questions before I listen? Answer
      Yes, you will be given some time to look over the questions before the recording begins. Use this time wisely. Read the questions, underline key words and think of any possible paraphrases you might hear. They will tell you how many questions to read through “you will now hear questions 4-10….” – this for this information to make sure how many questions you must read through before the recording starts.
    11. Can I write on the listening question paper? Answer
      Yes, you can. You can make notes, underline words and write on any part of the question paper. Only your answer sheet will be marked. In fact, it is very useful to make notes on your question paper and can help you locate answers.
    12. Can I have extra paper for making notes? Answer
      No, you should use the question paper to write on while you listen.
    13. Are capital letters important? Answer
      No. You can use them or not use  them as you wish. If you use them incorrectly, it won’t affect your score and you won’t lose a mark.
    14. Can I write all my answers in capital letters on my listening answer sheet? Answer
      Yes, you can. Sometimes this is a good idea because usually your writing will be easier to read .
    15. Should I use a pen or pencil? Answer
      For your listening and reading test, you must use a pencil. so don’t forget to take an eraser with you. However, for writing you can choose either pen or pencil.
    16. In multiple choice questions, can I write words or do the answers need to be letters?? Answer
      It is very important that if the instructions ask you to choose a letter, then your answer must be a letter not words. Read the instructions very carefully so you don’t lose points.
    17. How can I improve my multiple choice listening?Answer
      Watch this video lesson, by clicking on the link, to get tips and practice for multiple choice questions in listening
    18. What accents will there be in the listening test? Answer
      IELTS is an international English language test so you might hear a variety of different accents in the recording. You should practice listening to different accents before your test.
    19. Is spelling important? Answer
      Yes, it is. If the answer is spelled incorrectly, it will be marked wrong.
    20. How can I improve my listening?  Answer
      You can improve by doing plenty of IELTS exercises which cover a range of question types: IELTS Listening Practice. Also you can develop by listening to a range of accents and topics. If you visit my “Useful Websites” page, you will see links to BBC news and other useful sites for listening. But remember that those sites will improve your listening ability but you will still need to work on listening skills for your IELTS test in order to listening for specific information and answers to questions.
    21. How can I improve section 4 of the listening test?Answer
      1) Section 4 is a lecture so that means it will be structured. The information will follow a normal pattern which you must try to follow. The speaker will move from point to point. Check your questions to see if they are a new point or examples etc. See the order of information in the questions. 2) You must build speed at preparing the questions for section 4. You must be able to read and prepare all questions in the time given. This is skill you must practice. Immediately underline key words which will help you follow the information coming. You should practice this skill again and again to improve. Always underline or circle the words which will help you locate your place in the listening. 3) Always keep your eye on more than one question at once. If you are listening for question 34, then you must also have your eye on question 35. When I say “keep your eye on” , I mean keep your mind open for the key words in the next question(s). 4) Some key words will be repeated but that doesn’t mean other key words will be. You must learn to identify which are useful key words and which are not. Any word that can’t be paraphrased will be useful to help you find your place in the talk. So, academic words, names, dates etc are all useful and can help you. 5) Listen for signposts. These are words which indicate when the speaker is repeating information, when the speaker is moving on to another point in the talk or just giving examples and details. Signposts are similar to linking devices “Another point to consider is…” or “if we look at the aspect of …”. Pay attention to these words.
    22. What does “two words and/or number” mean? Answer
      It means you can write two words with a number (for example “26 local men”) or you can just have a number. You can also have one word with a number. But you can’t have more than two words with a number.
    23. Should I use “the” or “a” with my answer? Answer
      If you are completing a sentence then you must make sure the sentence is grammatically correct when you fill in the answer. That means you might need to use articles (a / the). However, if you are only writing notes, forms or completing a table, diagram or flowchart, you won’t need to think about grammar.

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