Understanding the IELTS Listening test
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

Understanding the IELTS Listening test

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.

Listening Tip 1

 

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.

Listening Tip 2
 
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.
Listening Tip 3

 

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.

Listening Tip 4

 

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

Emma has been teaching IELTS for 20 years. She enjoys helping people to develop both their language skills and confidence.

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