Tips to Improve IELTS Listening Score


8 mins read76.9K Views
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Feb 21, 2023 10:22 IST

In the IELTS Listening section, you will listen to four recorded texts, monologues, and conversations by a range of native speakers, and write your answers to a series of questions. These include questions that test your ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, your ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, your ability to understand the purpose of an utterance, and your ability to follow the development of ideas.

IELTS Listening Pattern

Before attempting any examination, it is always advisable that the candidate understands the pattern and previous year's questions that have appeared on the examination. The pattern of the IELTS Listening section has been described below:

  • The total time allotted to you will be 30 minutes. In the case of a paper-based test, you will be provided 10 minutes extra to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
  • The listening section is the same for Academic and General Training IELTS both
  • The audio will be played only once
  • There will be 4 sections, with 10 questions in each section


Number of Speakers


Section 1

2 speakers

A conversation or a transaction

Section 2

1 speaker

A talk on a general topic

Section 3

2-4 speakers

A conversation in an academic or an educational context

Section 4

1 speaker

An academic lecture

  • There are six question types, details of which have been given below:
    • Question Type 1: Note, Form, Table, Flowchart completion
    • Question Type 2: Multiple Choice
    • Question Type 3: Short Answer
    • Question Type 4: Matching
    • Question Type 5: Sentence Completion
    • Question Type 6: Plan, Map, Diagram Labelling
  • You can hear the recordings only once.
  • The recordings will be in different accents: UK, US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand 

IELTS Listening Exam Sections

Section 1

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A conversation between two people on an everyday, social topic. This means that you will listen to two people talking to each other about arranging a trip, organizing an event, etc.

Section 2

This is a talk by one speaker on a general topic. This means that you listen to one person giving information about a public event, a service provided, etc.

Section 3

This is a conversation between two to four people in an educational or training context. This means that you listen to up to four people talking to each other about an assignment for a course, an academic subject in a seminar, etc.

Section 4

This is a monologue on an academic or study-related topic. This means you will listen to a person giving a lecture or a talk that is academic in nature.

IELTS Listening Tips

The below-mentioned table will give you an idea about the number of questions that you need to get correct in order to secure a certain band:

Correct questions out of 40

Band Score









These IELTS listening tips and tricks will help you in achieving a 9-band score.

  • You should focus on the following:
    • Main ideas
    • Development of ideas
    • Detailed and factual information
    • Opinions
    • Attitudes
    • Purpose
  • Attempt all the questions! As there is no negative marking in the IELTS Listening section one should attempt all questions.
  • Read the questions before the audio starts to play and try to guess what kind of an answer you might get.
  • Answers appear in the sequence you heard in the audio. They might come with large gaps or can come quickly.
  • If the question requires a singular answer, a plural answer is incorrect and vice-versa.
  • Stress on what the speaker is saying and not how he is saying it.
  • You can write the answer using capital or lowercase letters, however, experts recommend using all capital letters.
  • If you don't know an answer, guess and move on to the next one.
  • A date like ‘1960’ is considered as one number.
  • A large number like 1,000,400 is considered as one word.
  • Words with hyphens like ‘two-fold’ are considered as one word.
  • Sometimes there will be a list of options to choose from, however, the answers may not be in the order you hear them.
  • After finishing a section you can move on to the next section.
  • Note down the word limit for each section. Just go as per the given instructions.
  • Look for similar words or synonyms from the question, this can help you find the answer.
  • Mention the dates in the correct ways like 20th June, June 20, or 20 June.
  • Do not waste too much time on one question, as you have limited time, so make the best use of it.
  • Those who take IELTS test on paper are given 10 minutes to transfer their answers from the Listening booklet to the answer sheet once the recording is over. Do it once the recordings end as you might end up missing an important point about the next section.
  • In the case of a computer-delivered IELTS test, you will not get extra 10 minutes.

IELTS Listening Tips (Work on Your General Listening Skills)

As the IELTS Listening section is designed to test your listening skills, you should listen to various other mediums and focus not just on listening to IELTS listening practice tests.

  • Listen to informative TV shows, documentary programs, and radio reports apart from the IELTS listening practice tests.
  • You can listen to motivational podcasts on Spotify. These will help you in getting the hang of the accents of native English speakers. Not only will it improve your listening skills, but also contribute to your speaking ability.
  • You take the help of the Cambly App. The app helps you connect with native English speakers and IELTS trainers.
  • You must get used to the British accent. For this, you can listen to BBC News or any other news channel that is aired in the UK.

IELTS Listening Tips (Things to Keep in Mind)

  • The audio is played only once. This implies that the students have to be very careful and attentive while listening to the audio. Do not get swayed away in your thoughts.
  • In the first two sections, the focus is on listening to specific factual information. However in the last two sections, in addition to factual information, you have to focus on the speaker’s attitude and opinions.
  • You will be allowed approximately 30 seconds to study the questions before the test begins. Use this time to check what kind of information or answers are needed in that particular section.
  • At the end of the Listening test, the answers must be written on the Answer Sheet. After the test, you will be given 10 whole minutes to copy all your answers to the Answer Sheet and only then do you need to be doing that.
  • Do not mistakenly choose to copy the answers to the Answer Sheet during the time given before each section begins, because that time is for you to concentrate on reading the questions about the new section, to understand what is coming up or what kind of information you need to focus on in the new section.
  • Be careful of the words that are meant to distract you, and be careful in handling the synonyms.
  • For in-depth preparation go for the IELTS speaking topics with answers, so you can understand their reasoning as well. Also, focus on learning more and more IELTS listening tips and tricks that will help you in better utilization of the time.

Also Read:

IELTS Syllabus

Resources for IELTS Preparation

IELTS Prep Tips

IELTS Registration

IELTS Listening Tips FAQs

Q. How many total questions are there in the IELTS Listening section?

A. There are a total of 40 questions in the IELTS Listening section. These 40 questions are divided into 4 sections. The four sections include a conversation or a transaction, a general talk, an academic conversation, and an academic lecture. In the case of a paper-based IELTS exam, you are provided 10 minutes extra (a total of 40 minutes of section) to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Students must note that the audio is played only once; hence, they must be very attentive while solving the questions and while listening to the audio.

Q. How many sections are there in the IELTS Listening section?

A. There are 4 sections in the IELTS Listening section. Each section has 10 questions. The time allotted for the section is 40 minutes. The audio part is 30 minutes long and the extra 10 minutes are for transferring your answers to the answer sheet (note: this is for candidates who are appearing for a paper-based IELTS test).

Q. What type of questions are there in the IELTS Listening section?

A. Following are the types of questions on the IELTS Listening section: Match the answers, MCQs (multiple-choice questions), table completion, note completion, form completion, flow chart completion, completion of sentences, summary, and short-answer questions. In all, there are 40 questions.

Q. How many questions do I need to get correct in order to score a band 7 on the IELTS Listening section?

A. You need to answer at least 30 questions correctly to get a band 7 or above on the IELTS Listening section. If you answer 35 questions correctly, you will reach band 8. The skills of solving questions correctly in the main exam can come through solving the official IELTS material and giving mock tests. There is nothing more important than giving mock tests and analyzing your performance on them.

Q. How can I improve my listening skills?

A. You can improve your listening skills by listening to podcasts, British news channels, IELTS Speaking mock tests, etc. Make sure that you appear for as many mock tests as possible. Mock tests will help you develop the skill of solving questions. Moreover, you will develop a habit of listening to the audio carefully. Remember that the audio is played once; hence, you need to be extremely careful when it comes to answering IELTS listening questions.
About the Author
Written by
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

Rahul Singha is a seasoned editor with Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in overseas education. With over 8 years of domain experience, he has made a significant impact in contributing to the study abroad industry ... Read Full Bio

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