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.
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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.
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.