IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening Tips

The listening paper is the same in both Academic and the General training modules of the IELTS test. The duration of this test is approximately 30 minutes and you are given 10 minutes to write the answers on a separate answer sheet.


This consists of four separate sections and a total of 40 questions. Sections 1 and 2 are set in a social context and section 3 and 4 are set in an academic context. In the IELTS listening, you will hear the text once only.

What kind of text will I hear?

  • A conversation between two people about a general topic with a transactional purpose like finding out information about travel.
  • A monologue or prompted monologue on a general topic with a transactional purpose like giving information about events in the community.
  • A conversation between two or three people in an academic context like a student and a student and a tutor discussing an academic problem.
  • A monologue in an academic context like a lecture.

There are 10 questions for each section in the listening test. Below are the task types that you may find in any section. You may have between one and three different tasks per section.

Task Type:

  • Notes / Summary / Table / Flow – Chart Completion
  • Multiple Choice
  • Short Answer Questions
  • Sentence Completion
  • Labelling a diagram, plan or map
  • Classification
  • Matching

IELTS Listening Tips:

  1. Always check your spelling. If you make a spelling mistake in the IELTS Listening paper, your Answer will be marked Wrong.
  2. Before you do each section, you will be given 30 – 45 Seconds to look at the questions. Use this time to study the questions and try to predict what you might hear.
  3. Don’t be worried if you see technical terms in the listening questions. These will usually be explained to you.
  4. For labeling a map or plan in IELTS, you may need t follow directions, or you may hear a description of a location.
  5. For most questions in the listening paper, you will hear two or more potential answers to each question, but only one will correct. The incorrect answers are called distractors.
  6. In the IELTS listening paper, sections 1 and 3 are conversations between two or three people. Sections 2 and 4 are monologues with only one main speaker introducing the talk or asking questions.
  7. Pay attention to the number of words you need to write. No more than two words means that you may need to write one word or two words only.
  8. The distractors for this type of task might be extra buildings marked on the map, or they might be extra options in a list of possible answers.
  9. You may need to follow directions to locate a place on the map or plan. Marking the way directly on the map can be helpful.
  10. You should study the map or plan carefully before you listen. Having a clear image in your mind will help you understand what you hear.