IELTS Listening

Learn how to prepare for your IELTS listening exam using our useful tips and tutorials.

On this page you'll find all the information that you need to pass your listening test, including :

  • The format of the IELTS Listening Test
  • Different IELTS question types
  • 20 tips to improve your IELTS Listening band score

This will help you in your IELTS exam because:

  • Being familiar with the format will boost your confidence
  • You will know what types of questions to expect
  • You'll avoid many of the common mistakes IELTS candidates make

IELTS test candidates whether Academic or General do the same IELTS Listening Test.

  • Duration of the IELTS listening test is 40 minutes
  • The audio recording lasts 30 minutes
  • The listening test has 4 parts

Part 1: Two people talking (a typical everyday conversation, e.g., two friends arranging to meet).

Part 2: One person talking (a talk or speech in a social situation, e.g., explaining membership at a local gym).

Part 3: Multiple people talking (maximum 4) in a training or educational situation (e.g., a training workshop/seminar).

Part 4: One person giving a talk/presentation in an academic setting (e.g., a university professor).

Each part has 10 questions.

Paper-based IELTS listening test vs computer-based Listening IELTS test

  • In the paper version of the listening test, you write the correct answers on the question paper while listening.
  • At the end of the audio recording, you can transfer the answers to the official answer sheet.
  • You will have 10 minutes to do this.
  • In the computerised test, you enter the answers directly into the computer while you listen.
  • You do not get an extra 10 minutes at the end because you have already entered your answers.
  • But you do get 2 minutes at the end of the audio recording to check and change your answers if necessary.

Understanding the IELTS Listening Test

1.The listening test evaluates your listening comprehension and ability to understand pronunciation, main ideas, details, facts, opinions and attitudes of the people you hear speaking.

2.You will hear the audio recording one time. The speakers have different accents: American, Australian, British, Canadian, and New Zealand.

3.Pay attention to your spelling and grammar when you write your answers. You can lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.

4.Each section of IELTS listening questions have a specific maximum word count. Be clear about how many words are required in each section.

For example, when you see the instruction "Write no more than two words and/or a number". This means that you can write:

  • 1 word,
  • 2 words,
  • 1 word + 1 number,
  • 2 words + 1 number,
  • or 1 number.

Check if the instructions state "a number" or "numbers".

Important: when you count the number of words in your answer, be clear that contracted words (isn't, won't, etc.) are not tested. Hyphenated words like "trouble-shooting" and "cost-effective" are treated as one word, not two words.

You have an opportunity to read through the questions for each section before you hear the audio recording.

Important: there is an important change in the format of the IELTS listening test in 2020. In Part 1, there is now NO example answer provided.

If you are using old IELTS listening practice tests material to prepare, be aware that you will not see the Part 1 answer example in the real test.

When you hear the audio recording, be ready to begin answering Question 2 immediately.

To prepare for your exam, practice doing full 30-minute listening tests as part of your IELTS preparation. You'll quickly learn how to maintain focus while listening!

There are a lot of official online IELTS Listening Practice tests that you can do to help you prepare for your IELTS listening exam:

Here are some tutorials to help you with your IELTS Listening test preparation: