Let’s face it. The IELTS Listening component is an exam where you will have to answer questions after listening to a native speaker, only once. Does it sound daunting? Yes, it does. But since you are here, we do have some good news! We know how you can ace the Listening test. So let’s get started.

IELTS- Overview

IELTS is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests. Test takers take this test for different purposes such as admission to higher studies, work purposes, or immigration. This is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP Australia, Cambridge English Assessment. There are two different types of IELTS in general, IELTS general training and IELTS academic.

As stated above, test takers take this test for two purposes: admission to higher studies and work purposes. Therefore IELTS has two types. IELTS Academics are taken by testicles for admission in higher studies. On the other hand, general training is taken by candidates for migration, or work-related purposes. 


International English Language Testing System


British Council, IDP Education, Cambridge Assessment English




Offline and Online






Score range

0 to 9 band scale

Application Fee

Rs 14,000 



IELTS Listening Format

Before we move on to the tips and study guide part, let us first understand how IELTS listening works, what skills are judged, and how you are marked.

There are four sections with ten questions each. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard in the audio.

The first two sections deal with situations set in everyday social contexts.

#1. In Section 1, there is a conversation between two speakers (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements).

#2. In Section 2, there is a monologue (for example, a speech about local facilities). 

The final two sections deal with situations set in educational and training contexts. 

#3. In Section 3, there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor). 

#4. In Section 4, there is a monologue on an academic subject.

The recordings are heard only once. They include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian.

You have 30 minutes to answer 40 questions and 10 minutes to transfer them on your answer script.

Also Read: IELTS Listening Tips and Tricks: Let’s Know How to Ace the IELTS Listening Test 2022

Types of Questions in IELTS Listening

Preparing for any exam cannot begin unless you understand what type of questions you are expected to answer. The questions are mainly objective and you have to answer in a word or two or a sentence, at the most. Here is what exactly you will get:

# Question type 1:  You will get multiple choice tasks, where there is a question followed by three possible answers or the beginning of a sentence followed by three possible ways to complete the sentence. You will be required to choose the one correct answer – A, B, or C. Sometimes, candidates are given a long list of possible answers and told that they have to choose more than one. In this case, you should read the question carefully to check how many answers are required.

 # Question type 2: Here you will be required to match a numbered list of items from the listening text to a set of options on the question paper. The set of options may be criteria of some kind.

 # Question type 3: Test takers are required to complete labels on a plan (e.g. of a building), map (e.g. of part of a town), or diagram (e.g. of a piece of equipment). The answers are usually selected from a list on the question paper.

# Question type 4: You will be required to fill in the gaps in an outline of part or of all of the listening text. The outline will focus on the main ideas/facts in the text. It may be: 

#1. a form: often used to record factual details such as names.

 #2. a set of notes: used to summarise any type of information using the layout to show how different items relate to one another.

 #3. a table: used as a way of summarising information which relates to clear categories – e.g. place/time/ price.

 #4. a flow-chart: used to summarise a process that has clear stages, with the direction of the process shown by arrows.

You may have to select your answers from a list on the question paper or identify the missing words from the recording, keeping to the word limit stated in the instructions. Test takers do not have to change the words from the recording in any way.

# Question type 5: You will be required to read a set of sentences summarising key information from all the listening text or one part of it. They then fill a gap in each sentence using information from the listening text. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER.

# Question Type 6: you will be required to read a question and then write a short answer using information from the listening text. 

Also Read: IELTS Listening Practice Test Online: What You Need to Know to Score Better?

Skills Tested

Each type of question discussed above tests a particular skill or a set of skills. For example:

# Multiple choice questions are used to test your detailed understanding of specific points or an overall understanding of the main points of the listening text. 

# Matching assesses the skill of listening for detail and whether you can understand the information given in a conversation on an everyday topic, such as the different types of hotel or guest house accommodation. It also assesses the ability to follow a conversation between two people. It may also be used to assess your ability to recognize relationships and connections between facts in the listening text.

# Plan/map/diagram labelling assesses the ability to understand, for example, a description of a place, and to relate this to a visual representation. This may include being able to follow language expressing spatial relationships and directions (e.g. straight on/through the far door). 

# Flow chart or summary completion focuses on the main points which a listener would naturally record in this type of situation.

# Sentence completion focuses on the ability to identify the key information in a listening text. Test takers have to understand functional relationships such as to cause and effect.

# Short answer type questions focus on the ability to listen for concrete facts, such as places, prices, or times, within the listening text.

You can see that IELTS Listening, although doesn’t have detailed rubrics for marking, is quite systematic in terms of assessing skills. Therefore while preparing you must ensure that you address each skill that is mentioned here. Remember IELTS checks your English language skills. It doesn’t check how much English you know.

IELTS Signposting Language

Signposting is words or phrases that act as a guide to the reader to introduce them to the recording. Here are some examples: 


Signposting language

Introduction to the lesson/lecture

#     The purpose of today’s lecture is…

#     The subject/topic of my talk is …

#     The lecture will outline …

#     The talk will focus on …

#     Today I’ll be talking about / discussing…

#     Today we are going to talk about…

#     The topic of today’s lecture is…

Describing the structure of the lecture

#     I’m going to divide this talk into a few parts.

#     First, we’ll look at….. Then we’ll go on to … And finally, I’ll…

Introducing the topic/ first point /  

first section

#     Let’s start by talking about…

#     To begin,…

#     Firstly,…

Starting an idea or linking to another idea

#     Let’s move on to…

#     Now, let’s turn to…

#     And I’d now like to talk about…

#     Building on from the idea that …,

#     Another line of thought on … demonstrates that …

#     Having established …,

To reach the end of the talk / Summing up

#     In conclusion, …

#     From the above, it is clear that …

#     Several conclusions emerge from this analysis …

#     To summarize, …

#     I’d like now to recap…


Also Read: Amazing Tips and Tricks to Get High IELTS Listening Band Score on Section 3

IELTS Listening Study Guide

Like every exam, IELTS Listening also requires dedicated practice. While practising you must focus on the skills that are tested. Following are some tips for you to imbibe in your daily listening practice:

# Practice listening to both one person speaking (a monologue) and more than one person speaking at the same time. For the first, you may get overwhelmed, while the second can be difficult because there may be different accents or styles of speaking and it is tricky to ‘tune in’ to what is being said. Listen to different podcasts to overcome the difficulties.

Be careful with your spelling. Lots of easy marks are thrown away because of poor spelling.

# Make sure you follow the instructions carefully especially when it comes to the word limit. If the question states ‘No more than three words’ you can’t write any more than this.

 # You have to get used to listening to things only once. Make sure to always practice under exam conditions and that means listening just once.

 # Remember, it is not just a listening test; it’s an understanding, reading, writing, vocabulary, and spelling test. Make sure you practice all of these skills under exam conditions.

Also Read: IELTS Listening Practice: Tips and Tricks to Get the Best Band Score in the IELTS Exam IELTS Listening Practice: Tips and Tricks to Get the Best Band Score in the IELTS Exam

IELTS Preparation Tips


The key to success in any examination or your life is practice. Someone wise has once said practice makes a man perfect. And yes, to excel in your IELTS listening test you need to provide as many audios as you can. 

Try to hear different types of recordings such as radio, TV, news clips, and many more. Also make sure that you listen to these videos in different accents such as British, Australian, and American.

Practice Test

We have already said practice is important for your success. So taking practice sets and mock tests are all equally important. This helps you to understand the basic format of listening and get familiar with the exam environment. 

Also, it will give you a clear insight into your current performance and will help you to improve your weak points and further strengthen your strong points.

Think in English

To learn any language you have to become a child once again. When a child is learning a language you may always find him or her murmuring some words. This is the fastest way to learn any language. 

Therefore you have to practice English like that to improve your skills. This may sound funny but you can improve your English by thinking in English. The human mind is always filled with different thoughts and you can take advantage of this and think in English. 


You need to build up your vocabulary otherwise you won’t be able to interpret what a word means in the recording. Remember if you are preparing for IELTS academic then the recordings will be pretty harder. And the use of words would be more difficult than general training. 

Grammatical Mistake

You should also pay attention to your grammatical skills. While writing down the answer you should try to omit any kind of mistakes. Contest you can refer to different books, YouTube videos, or simply enroll yourself in the course provided by IELTS Ninja. 


You should also try to improve your handwriting. Especially if you have bad handwriting then you should at least try to write one or two pages daily. Remember the examiner will score you on how you will perform on the exam data than the knowledge you have. If he or she is not able to interpret your answer then you will get a low band scale naturally. 


The recording will have indifferent accents such as British, Australian, and American. Every accent has its characteristics and therefore you need to listen to every word carefully. 

Also Read: IELTS Listening Practice Test 2021 with Answers: Here’s the Exam Pattern, Question Types & More

Exam Day IELTS Tips

A good practice doesn’t always assure great performance. You must follow some rules on the day of the exam too so that you are adequately relaxed, settled, and ready to conquer the exam. Here are certain things you should remember on the day of the exam:

Be Punctual

Arrive at the test center early and plan your journey. You need to be settled, organized, and ready for what’s coming.


Read and listen to the instructions very carefully. Many students throw away easy marks by misreading or not following simple instructions.


While listening to the audio, you should also make notes. This will help you to recall the main information of the recordings while answering the questions. You should also try to write the main keywords. 

Answer Writing

# Write your answers on the test paper. 

# Carefully transfer your answers to the answer sheet at the end.

# You can write in all capital letters if you wish.

# If you have problems hearing the recording, complain at the end.

# You will be penalized for writing more than the stated number of words, and therefore, should check this word limit carefully for each task.


Many of the candidates made the mistake of not revising the answers before submitting them. And this mistake can become fatal. After completing your answers, pay attention to minor details such as plurals, units, numbers, etc. 

H3- Important Things to Remember: Common Confusion Regarding Listening Module


One of the most important features of the listening test is YOLO. By YOLO, it means you only listen once. This means the recording will only play once and you have to get that idea or the theme of the recording at once. Even if you do not get any answer you won’t be able to listen to the audio once again. 


Remember you have to multitask. You may have to listen, read questions, and write answers at the same time. You should not do this in multiple-choice questions. You should practice multitasking beforehand only.

Answer Transfer

You will only get ten minutes to transfer your answer sheet. You should practice doing that beforehand.

Pen or Pencil

Open candidates are confused about whether they should write with a pencil or pen. But according to the British council, it is your call. You can write with either and it will not affect your scores anyhow. 

Negative Marking

There is no negative marking in the listening module and therefore you can answer the whole question. Even if you don’t know the exact answer you can take a guess. And who knows your gas my be true.

Capital or Small Letter

Are you also confused about whether to write in capital or small letters? It is also your call. You can choose to write in either case. But it is preferred to write in all capital letters. 

Word Limit

Remember you cannot write less or more than the prescribed word limit. Your score will be deducted if you write less or more than the word limit. You should practice writing in the word limit. Remember:

# Hyphenated words such as word-limit are counted as one word.

# 1990 is considered as one number.  

#2,50,500 is counted as one word. 


Spelling mistakes is one of the common mistakes while answering the questions. And one of the most common mistakes is deducting your marks. If you are aiming for a prestigious college you need a high band scale. And therefore you should pay attention to these small details. After writing answers you should carefully pay attention to the spelling. You can also try to memorize different words and build up your vocabulary to improve your spelling. 


The whole test is a long process and you will need to have patience and maintain your concentration. You should practice concentration at home. 

Time Management for IELTS Listening Module

The IELTS listening test has 40 questions from four different sections. To solve these questions you will only have 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer answers. You will be given one extra minute to read the set of questions. 

You need to utilise this time by reading the given question and trying to figure out the answers. After this try to answer all those questions that you know first. Then you can try to figure out the answers of those that you are facing difficulty with.

How is Score Calculated for IELTS Listening?

Band Scale


















Also Read: How to Master IELTS Listening? A Guide to Improve Your Listening Skills


IELTS Listening is not the hardest exam you will ever take! So do not waste your time worrying about it. It is a very straightforward exam and if you practice rightly, you will reap the benefits. Hope this helps!

Also if you want to elevate your preparation you can visit the IELTS Ninja website. This website offers you customized and affordable courses to accelerate your IELTS preparation. The courses are specially designed by professionals to get your desired band scale. To know more click on the link.

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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