IELTS Listening preparation

Listening tests the student’s ability to understand spoken English. This includes understanding the main idea and specific information, hearing and separating the points of view of more than one person, understanding arguments, and analyzing the information gained from the audio recording.
Listening section consists of four parts and 40 questions.

Each audio recording is more difficult than the previous one, and you can only listen to the recording once.

Listening Part 1 An everyday conversation on a common topic
Listening Part 2 A monologue on a common topic
Listening Part 3 A conversation on an academic topic
Listening Part 4 A monologue on an academic topic
Types of Listening questions


Matching facts or information from two lists or columns. It tests the understanding of the general meaning and details of a dialog or monologue, the ability to connect and relate the information received.

Plan, map, diagram labeling

Fill in plans, maps, diagrams, or schematics. Tests ability to correlate data from audio recording with visual information.

Form, note, table, flowchart, chart, summary completion

Completion of forms, notes, tables, flow charts, graphs, tables, or recordings. Tests the ability to relate data from the audio to visual information and to focus on key information in the audio.

Sentence Completion

Fill in the gaps in sentences and use information from the audio recordings. Tests ability to find key information in spoken text, correlate cause and effect. It is important to read the instructions carefully, for example, to understand how many words can be used for each gap.

Short answer questions

Write a short answer to a question without answer choices. Tests the ability to recognize specific factual information in a listening text, such as prices, places, names, times, etc.

IELTS Listening difficulties

Students may have issues understanding accents of Englishs: North American, British, Australian, New Zealand.

The main reasons students receive low scores are:

  • Lack of comprehension of spoken English;
  • Lack of understanding of individual words or speech patterns;
  • Failing to understand fast, «live» spoken English;
  • One-time listening is not enough for complete understanding.
Listening tips and preparation

Each audio recording is played only once. Therefore, you should learn how to analyze the audio and work with the information as you listen. Try watching Youtube videos with fluent speech and making notes based on the information heard.

Listen to English-language radio and watch TV programs, including talk shows. Popular science movies and documentaries that use various terms and definitions will be invaluable in your preparation.

If you have favorite movies or TV series, rewatch them in English without subtitles. Knowing what is happening on the screen will make it easier for you to grasp the information.

Study the IELTS practice tests and train yourself to quickly draft the answers as you listen. Don’t put off writing your answers until later, as you may simply forget them.

Talk to native speakers. Try to find a way to communicate frequently, either live or by video call.
Learn to concentrate. As mentioned, audio recordings can be recorded with different accents, which are important to understand.

While transfering your answers onto the answer sheet, don’t rush and  keep in mind spelling and grammar. After putting down your answers, go back to the text to make sure there are no spelling mistakes.

Answers to questions in the audio recording may appear at different frequencies. You may hear answers to several questions in one sentence. Or there may be a long gap between answers. Don’t panic, stay alert, and be prepared to record answers quickly.