IELTS Listening

The IELTS Listening test is the same in both the Academic and General Training tests.

The Listening test consists of four parts designed to assess how well you can:

  • understand the main ideas and detailed information of a set of recordings
  • recognise the opinions and attitudes of the speaker
  • follow the development of an idea or argument.

Below you’ll find more information about the test format and scoring, as well as top tips, free videos and blog articles, and other resources to help you understand the Listening test and achieve a high score.

If there’s anything else you would like to see, tell us on our social channels.

The Listening test lasts for 30 minutes with an extra 10 minutes to write your answers onto a separate answer sheet.

There are four parts with ten questions each (so 40 in total). The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard in the audio.

Each part is a little more difficult than the one before and each has a different focus.

The first two parts deal with situations set in everyday social contexts, so:

  • in Part 1 you will hear a conversation between two people
  • in Part 2 you will hear a monologue on a general topic.

The final two parts deal with situations set in educational and training contexts, so:

  • in Part 3 you will hear a conversation between two or three people
  • in Part 4 you will hear a monologue on an academic subject.

You will hear the recordings only once. The Listening test includes a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian.

One mark is awarded for each correct answer in the 40-item test.

A band score conversion table will then translate the scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale.

Take care when writing your answers onto the answer sheet as you can lose marks for poor spelling and grammar.

1. Get to know the test so there are no surprises on the day. Use our preparation materials to understand the Listening test and example topics that might come up.

2. Listen to accents from a variety of English-speaking countries. Search online for radio stations in these countries and listen every day.

3. Practise multitasking. During the test you need to read the questions, listen for the answer and write down the words all at the same time!

4. During the test you have time at the beginning of each part to look at the task. Use this time to read the questions carefully and think about the topics.

5. The questions always follow the order of the recording. Don’t panic if you miss a question – look ahead and think about the next one.

How to improve your IELTS Listening test score

Looking for simple ways to improve your listening skills? 

Find out what you can do to improve your skills to help you achieve the IELTS Listening band score you need.

resource finder
Find the right preparation material for you

We’ll recommend study resources to help you achieve your target band score.

Go to Resource Finder

Our most popular resources on Listening

More on Listening ...

card
Listening
Improve your listening skills with IELTSi

IELTS Listening has many different question types. Each question type tests a different skill, these are known as subskills. Learning about these subskills will help you get a better understanding of the test and help you answer the questions correctly. In this blog post, I will explain how using these subskills will help you take control of your own learning and we will look at how IELTS Intelligence (IELTSi) Listening can help you with your goals.   It has been created through lots of research with self-study learners just like you. In IELTSi Listening, you can listen to recordings that are based on sections 1 to 4 of the Listening test and assess yourself on the different task types including Classification, Matching, Multiple Choice and Completion style tasks. As well as being able to practise these different task types, you’ll also get a personalised feedback report that is created just for you. The report will show you why your answer was right or wrong, look at which skill was being practised, give you some tips to help you improve and help you focus your study. There are a number of things that students find challenging with IELTS Listening. The fact that you only hear the recording once means that you need to be aware of the format that is used and the strategies you then need to employ in this part of the test. You also need to focus on grammar and spelling; read the questions carefully and develop your skills of prediction. IELTSi can help as it breaks down the listening sections into chunks and explains and practises the different skills that you need to use. You will be able to understand what is needed for each different question type and develop skills for approaching the different listening sections in the test. The subskills we test in IELTSi Listening are important because they will also develop your skills for listening and understanding in everyday English as well as in academic settings where English is used. Let’s look at the subskills in more detail: Understanding the main idea means being able to separate the most important information from the less important. It is important for all parts of IELTS Listening and is a skill that is developed in Multiple Choice Questions, Matching and Note Completion tasks. It is also important for everyday life and academic settings such as seminars. Understanding details. When you need to find a piece of information, you need to be able to decide what sort of information you are listening for, predict the answer and be able to decide which detail is the correct detail. This skill is important for all parts of the test and appears in a wide variety of task types. You will need to develop this skill for all Completion tasks and Multiple Choice Questions. In everyday life this skill is necessary for understanding conversations and asking for, and listening to, information. In academic life you will need this skill in a wide variety of situations, such as listening to lectures and presentations. Recognising opinion, attitude and purpose means being able to listen for facts and ideas and being aware of what the speaker is saying or why they are speaking about them. You will also need to be able to understand what the speakers think about the ideas being mentioned. For example; you may be asked why two speakers agree or disagree about a certain topic. This skill is most often found in the academic conversation in Part 3 of the Listening test. You will need this skill both in daily and academic life in order to take part in different types of discussions. IELTS learners often find it difficult to prepare for the test because they don’t know how they can improve their score. Practice tests are helpful but sometimes you might feel like you need extra help and guidance. IELTS intelligence can give you the extra help and advice that you are looking for.  So why not check your Listening skills with IELTS intelligence and find out your strengths and weaknesses and how to improve in your personalised feedback report. It takes about 45 minutes to check your skills and read all your feedback, but you can stop and start again to suit you. Find out more by watching the video below:   We’re constantly developing IELTS intelligence based on our research with learners, so we’ll let you know when new skills and features are available. As always we would love to hear from you, feel free to ask us any questions you have on our social channels. Neil

Neil Holloway

21 May, 2021

user
card
Listening
A year of We Love IELTS – your top picks for IELTS Listening

We know 2020 has been a strange year for most of us! Let's talk about the positives, with We Love IELTS launching in February, we hope we have been a great support to you when preparing for your IELTS Test. We have spoken to thousands of you and over a million of you have joined us on this new platform. We are grateful to our growing community and know many of your will be new here. We thought what better time to share your top blogs for IELTS Listening: 1. How to Speak Australian English The most popular blog post on IELTS Listening in 2020 is IELTS expert Pete’s post on Australian English. IELTS is an international test, so you might hear a range of different accents, including Australian, British, New Zealand and North American, so we’re not surprised this post was so popular. Additionally, we know a lot of students plan to head ‘down under’ (to Australia), making this post where Pete shares some essential Australian English words and phrases even more important. READ MORE  2. What is American English Following on from Pete’s blog on Australian English, our second most popular Listening post of the year is on American English. In this post Pete shares some features of American English vocabulary and spelling that will be especially useful if you're taking IELTS to study, work or live in the USA. Don’t forget that in IELTS you can use either British or American spelling – just be consistent. READ MORE  3. Using Audio Scripts to Improve your IELTS Listening In our third most popular blog post of 2020, IELTS expert Sophie shares her top tips on how to use audio scripts to help increase your band score in the IELTS Listening test. Many students use transcripts/audio scripts to check their answers and see where they went wrong. This is a great way to identify your weaknesses and to discover certain patterns in the Listening test, but there is a lot more you can do. Read the blog post to find out more. READ MORE  4. 5 ways to improve your IELTS Listening Skills every day Did you know that the best way to improve your listening skills is not by doing lots of Listening tests. The very best way to make your listening better is to make listening in English a part of your everyday life. In this popular blog post IELTS expert Liz shares five ways to improve your listening skills every single day. Take a look and start improving your listening skills today! READ MORE  Happy reading!  

We Love IELTS

17 December, 2020

user
card
Listening
Understanding the IELTS Listening test

My students spend a lot of time worrying about IELTS Speaking and Writing and forget that they need to prepare for the IELTS Listening and Reading tests too! In fact, I am often surprised by how little people know about the IELTS Listening test. So today I am going to share with you the basics of the IELTS Listening Test. Hopefully this blog post will give you the facts you need, some tips for how to use sample questions and practise tests to prepare. Let’s get started … Did you know that the IELTS Listening test is the same in both the Academic and General Training tests? It consists of four parts designed to assess how well you can: understand the main ideas and detailed information of a set of recordings recognise the opinions and attitudes of the speaker follow the development of an idea or argument. The IELTS Listening test lasts for 30 minutes with an extra 10 minutes at the end so that you can write your answers onto the answer sheet. If you take the Computer-Delivered IELTS Test you will not get the 10 minutes at the end because you do not need to transfer your answers.   There are four parts to the test with ten questions each (so 40 in total) each question is worth 1 mark. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard in the audio, if you miss one just keep going, the answer to the next question will be along very soon. Each part is a little more difficult than the one before and each has a different focus.   It is an intense half hour and, whilst it may not sound like a long time, sustaining that level of concentration for 30 minutes is challenging. Before your IELTS test make sure you do some timed practise tests without stopping for a break. You need to build your stamina! The Listening test includes a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian, make sure you have listened to all these accents in your preparation.   During the test you have time at the beginning of each part to look at the task. Use this time to read the questions carefully and think about the topics. Always scan the question paper quickly before you listen, to: understand what type of answer you have to give; understand what the context is and who is talking; notice places on a map (if there is one), including drawings; underline important words that might be paraphrased in questions and in the sentences around gap fills. There are different question types that appear in the IELTS Listening Test. Make sure that you have practised all of them before test day so that you know what approach to use. There are some excellent blog posts by different members of the We Love IELTS team on some of the question types, you should spend some time reading them. Doing sample questions and full practice tests is essential to familiarise yourself with the structure of the test and the way instructions are given.   It always surprises my students to find out that they can get answers wrong and still get their target band score. It is really helpful to read extended feedback on the answers to see where you went wrong and understand what you needed to be listening out for. Another valuable resource is the tape script, read through it and find where you made mistakes. Notice that distractors are often included in the conversations and monologues to test your comprehension. Good luck everyone! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

17 December, 2020

user
card
How to improve your Listening for IELTS

In this video, IELTS expert, Pete Jones shares four tried-and-tested ways to improve your Listening for IELTS. You may just be starting to prepare for IELTS or you’ve taken the test already, perhaps more than once, and not got the Listening band score you need. This video can help you.

youtube play
card
Episode 9: How to manage IELTS test anxiety

In this first episode of our second series, IELTS expert Pete Jones shares some tips on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test to help you make the most of your preparation time and perform better in the test.


Download Transcript

podcast play
card
Episode 7: Top tips for IELTS Listening

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz give some top tips on the IELTS Listening Test.


Download Transcript

podcast play