IELTS Listening Tips: How to improve IELTS Listening Score

Listening Tips for IELTS 2023

disha wahi

disha wahiStudy Abroad Expert

Updated on Jul 24, 2023 12:51 IST

The IELTS listening module is the same for both the categories of the IELTS exam - Academic and General Training. The IELTS listening is one of the easiest module as compared to the IELTS Reading exam for many candidates but only with persistence and certain IELTS Listening Tips and Strategies to finish the paper on time. All the sections of the IELTS exam have a time restriction hence you need to have the right approach, so that you fall under higher IELTS listening band score and do not waste any time on unnecessary IELTS Listening Tips.

IELTS Exam Pattern: Listening Section

The IELTS listening Test of the IELTS exam consists of four sections in total. The IELTS Listening Test includes total 40 questions. The total time allotted for the section is 40 minutes. The IELTS Listening audio lasts for 30 minutes while the remaining 10 minutes are given to transfer the answers from the question paper to the answer sheet for the candidates appearing for the IELTS paper-based test. For each set of questions, there will be a word count limit - you need to pay attention to the word limit and how it changes for the next set of questions.

The IELTS Listening Test remains the same for both the Categories of the IELTS Exam- Academic and General Training like IELTS SpeakingTest.Rigorous IELTS Listening Practice is essential before you make up your mind for taking the IELTS Listening Test. 

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IELTS Syllabus: Listening Section

There are various types of questions in the IELTS Listening Test that the candidate encounters in the IELTS exam. Every question has its own approach. Here is a list of the different types of questions you would come across in the IELTS Listening Test. 

  • Matching: These questions carry one mark each where you have to match the answers between two options.
  • Multiple-choice questions: In multiple-choice questions, you have to choose the correct answer from a short list of options. This can be tricky because it is one of the toughest questions. The meaning might look the same, hence do not listen to the first answer and mark it. Listen further for assurance.
  • Note completion: This kind of question is somewhat similar to the fill-in-the-blank question which we used to encounter in our papers in schools and colleges. It can be in various forms. This question requires you to write down the number of words given in the instructions. 
  • Table: This kind of question asks you to fill in the information in the table, where already the rows and columns contain little information.
  • Form completion: This question you will mostly encounter in section one. It’s a basic form-filling question where you have to fill in the details in the form left out for you.
  • Flowchart: This question requires you to complete the steps or stages of a process or a diagram. Some information is already given to you while some are left in the blanks for you to fill up.
  • Sentence completion: In this question, you have to fill in the endings or even in between the sentences where you will be given some information in the former part of the sentence. Check your word limit before writing your answers.
  • Summary completion: This kind of question you might encounter in part 4 of the IELTS Listening section. As the paper proceeds it gets more difficult to locate correct answers. You will be given a summary of the audio, usually a monologue on an academic subject for example a lecture on the environment. There will be extensive use of paraphrasing and synonyms.
  • Short-answer questions: In this, you must identify the information which you have to answer from the recording in the form of short phrases or words. Usually, it appears in part 2 which will be a monologue set in an everyday social scenario. Sometimes it can require you to write more than one answer.

IELTS Listening Tips and Strategies

The IELTS Listening Test might seem difficult as the test progresses.These are a few general IELTS Listening Tips to help you gain good IELTS Listening Bands.

1. Practice using the answer sheet

You may download the answer sheet and practice using it. It’s important for you to know in and out about the paper. It is crucial for you to get in a habit of practising on the answer sheet so that you are well aware of the transferring of answers within 10 minutes of your time given. Because this factor also becomes one of the reasons for candidates do not attain desired bands. Hence, transferring the answers to the sheet within the time limit is crucial.

2. The recording is played only once

It is not played again, you have only one chance to listen to all the answers one by one and write down your answers as soon as you listen to them. You really need to multitask because, at the same time, you are reading, listening and writing the answers.

3. Use a pencil to write your answers

Yes, you need to write the answers with a pencil, so that it is easy to erase if there are any wrong answers. Writing the answers with a pen hinders this opportunity to erase wrong answers. This tip goes for your reading paper too. 

4. Scores are calibrated using correct answers.

There is a total of 40 questions and 40 answers, with one mark per question. And that is how your IELTS Listening band score is calculated. Click here to know more about the score band of IELTS listening.  

5. Capital letters or lowercase

You can write your answers in capital letters or lower cases. You can choose one of the two. For example, if you choose to write your answers in capital letters then write every letter in capitals. Example: GARDEN/garden

6. Be aware of the word count limit

Word limit is very crucial. The paper always consists of a word limit, and you got to pay attention to it. Check how many words you need for your answer. For example, if in the instructions it’s given you can use no more than two words then three-word answers would be wrong. Focus primarily on “AND/OR”.

Example: Write no more than two words and/or a number OR write no more than two words or numbers. You have to pay close attention to the singular and plural too as in number and numbers.

7. Using grammatically correct sentences

It depends on the question you have. There are different questions to which you need distinct kinds of answers.

For example:

  • PLACE: …........(It can be just one word, for example, hospital)
  • The best place to meet is …........... (It’s a sentence so it must be grammatically correct when you complete it. And we can say the best place to meet is “at the hospital”)

So, you need to check whether you are making notes or completing sentences.

8. All words and numbers are counted

All words are counted even if they are small words. For example:

  • A holiday – That is two words
  • 1950 – That is one word

9. Spelling is important

When you are writing the answers in the question paper while listening to the audio you do not have any time to notice the spellings. But when you transfer your answers to the answer sheet you have time to check your spelling.

10. Words or Letters

Keep a note of the instructions on what you have to write on the answer sheet. For example, for MCQs, you have to write letters a, b, c. And in case of note completion, you have to write words.

11. Know your question types really well

Knowing and having a technique to solve every kind of question is important in IELTS to get a good score. Because it is a time-restricted paper in which you have to solve questions within a time frame. Hence knowing your question types is really important because every question has a different strategy to be followed.

12. Do not try to understand everything

The aim of IELTS reading and listening is to find the answers and locate them correctly. You do not aim to understand everything in the paper. It will just simply waste your time. You need to focus on what kind of answer you are looking for. Because there will be a lot of extra information given in the recording but you need to stay focused.

13. Answers can come quickly

The answers do not come at regular intervals. You may have three answers coming together. So be attentive while listening. They may come at a higher pace.

14. Keep a note of the coming questions

Again, the answers might come together at a high pace altogether for example three or four answers together. So do not just look at the questions keep a check on the next set of questions. It’s important to note them so that you don’t lose time and get lost.

15. Make notes for your reference

Noting down keywords is a must! When you listen to the recording keep making notes side by side so that when you transfer answers you remember what was told in the audio because it would not be repeated.

16. There may be a gap between the answers

This is where students start to panic. It’s important to underline the keywords. So that you do not get confused.

17. Keep an eye on the common traps

 The answers might be changed in between the audio itself. The speakers might be changing words for the answers while speaking. The speakers might use the same words as the words given in the passage, they might not paraphrase.

18. Singular/plural answers

Keep a check on the words, for example, students or student. If the answer is student and you have misheard and written students it will be considered wrong.

19. In case you missed an answer/do not know the answer, Guess!

There is no negative marking for the wrong answer. Hence, do not leave any space blank. Guess the word or phrase if you missed hearing it. You might get it correct.

Top essential tips for IELTS Band Score 9

Getting a desirable IELTS Listening Band Score can be tricky as it requires a lot of practice and strategies along with time management skills. But if you are aiming for a high IELTS Listening band score in the IELTS listeningTest ,here are the essential IELTS Listening Tips which will elevate your IELTS listening band score in no time.

  • Range of accents will be used

Keep a note of it that you will come across many kinds of accents while encountering the exam. That is why practice enough to make yourself comfortable and used to all the accents which you might get in the paper.

  • Look for the titles (maps, diagrams, notes)

Understanding the kind of questions and titles is important. For example, there is a difference between note completion and summary completion. Also, flowcharts and tables, form filling, all have a different approach. So, keep yourself aware of the fact, which title are you encountering in the paper.

  • Check the placement of the questions

You have to check how have the questions been framed in the paper. This helps you to understand what kind of questions the paper holds and how much time would you require to complete each one of them. This in turn helps you to manage your time well because each question has a different strategy to be solved.

  • Missed an answer? Move to the next one quickly

There is no time to be wasted on the IELTS listening or Reading paper. It is very much time-restricted. Hence if you have missed out on any one question try not to waste your time panicking about it, focus on the left-out questions where you can cover up those points.

  • Technical /Academic language is not necessarily paraphrased

The academic language might not be changed with the synonyms, they might appear in the same manner as spoken. The general language can be paraphrased but it's not necessary with the technical or academic language.

  • Vocabulary enhancement is a must

Having a strong vocabulary plays a major difference in getting a higher band and a lower band. If you have a good command over your words, it will be easy for you to get away with the difficulty of understanding tough words and phrases. Also, it will help you in locating the answers quickly even in the reading paper and will help you to gain higher bands in writing as well.

IELTS Exam: Do's and Don'ts of the IELTS Listening Test:

Many candidates face issues with what to believe while preparing for the paper and what to ignore. Here are a few do's and don'ts which would help you to use your time wisely and get a better band with the right IELTS Listening Practice.

IELTS Listening Do's IELTS Listening Don'ts
Check your headphones before the exam starts Be afraid to seek help if your headphones aren’t working
Read instructions and underline key information Forget to paraphrase the sentence before you listen to the audio
Make notes as you listen Try to understand each and every word, and look out for the answers
Keep listening even after you feel you have got the answer because it might change Forget that recording is played only once
Check your spelling and keep all the letters capitalised if you need to Forget to check your grammar & spelling
Aim to answer every question as there is no negative marking for incorrect answers Miss out on answering any questions as there is no negative marking for incorrect answers

Listening Tips for IELTS 2023: Exam Dates, Application Form, Eligibility, Syllabus, Results


Types of IELTS Listening Sections

The first two sections of the IELTS Listening Test talk about the situations in everyday social contexts. The final two parts deal with situations set in educational and training contexts.

Section 1: This is the conversation between two speakers, for example, a conversation about travel arrangements.

Section 2: This is the monologue, for example, a speech about local facilities.

Section 3: This is the conversation between two speakers, for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor.

Section 4: This is the monologue on an academic subject.

Also Read: IELTS Writing 

Books for practising IELTS Listening

Below are few of the best books to prepare for IELTS Listening Test:

  • The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.  
  • Barron's IELTS Superpack.  
  • Simone Braverman's Target Band 7.  
  • IELTS Listening Practice Tests  

This article will help you in gaining knowledge about the IELTS Listening in detail because there are seperate approaches towards every single question in the IELTS Listening module . Hence, following the correct strategy is crucial to gain better bands in the IELTS Listening Test.

Learn about the IELTS exam in detail :FREE Online IELTS Videos

IELTS Listening FAQs

Can I write on the listening question paper?

Yes, you may write on the question paper and make notes if you need to. In fact, it is recommended to write and have some keywords ready before you put them on the final answer sheet. Making notes helps you to remember what you heard in the audio, because the audio is played only once and the answers won’t be repeated. Also keep a note that you need to transfer the answers correctly in your answer sheet in those last 10 minutes of your listening paper. Sometimes candidates forget or miss out on transferring the answers correctly in the sheet, so keep sometime to do so.

What accents can I expect in the IELTS listening module?

IELTS is an international exam so you might hear a variety of different accents in the recording. You should have a good practice for all the accents before you take the exam, because it might become a hindrance in getting a good band. Understanding different accents might become a challenge but it can be overcome by listening to different podcasts, watching movies and news. This would help in improving your listening skills for various accents.

How can I improve my listening?

Listening is one of the scoring modules in IELTS if practiced wisely. There are various sources from where you can practice and score a higher band.  Firstly, practice is a must. Books like IELTS official Cambridge series, Barron's IELTS Super back and many more. Listening to podcasts and, watching movies, Watching English news, talking in English regularly would improve the skills as well as your confidence till you reach the date of your exam.

Is it possible to get 7 and above bands in a month practice?

Yes, it is very much possible to get a good score with a month of dedicated practice session. But you need a certified trainer’s help so that you do not waste a single second on irrelevant sources. It is essential to use your time wisely while practicing for IELTS, because every question has a different approach and a strategy. Also, one has to be realistic in such context, if you have issues understanding English. Then the first approach should be to learn the basic skills rather than focusing on the IELTS paper. With that you can aim for a higher band because IELTS requires you to have at least basic level of English to clear the paper.

Can I write my answers in short forms/ acronyms?

No. Short forms / acronyms are not allowed. There are several acceptable abbreviations you can use in all parts of IELTS, such as 10am / 10 a.m., 100m, 5kg, amongst some others. In a few cases, even some well-known acronyms are allowed, such as UK, US and yes — IELTS. However, to avoid losing marks, you should always try to write the full form of a word if you can spell them (correctly). So, if the answer is, for example, New England, then do not write ‘NE’.


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