The average overall score of Indians who appeared for the IELTS in 2017 was 6.04. The average score for the listening section of the test? 6.30!

Having the largest English-speaking population gives us very little advantage when taking the IELTS. Because it’s not about your knowledge of the language, but your ability to apply it in pressure situations, that is tested.

So, how do you differentiate yourself when applying for your dream college or workplace? A better band score than the IELTS average is definitely one way.

Go Beyond Preparation

When you are preparing for the IELTS you’ve got to go beyond the basic preparation. Deep analyses, devising strategies and a thorough study isn’t just reserved for boardrooms. You’ve got to do all of the above to beat the average.

Let’s talk about the challenges you will face in scoring a band score 8 and how to overcome them.

Challenges You will Face

The IELTS listening test has many challenges that one might face and you might be likely to face one of these problems as well. But the good part about learning a challenge is that we can start preparing for it with a solution in the meantime of the exam.

Also Read : How To Solve Diagram Labelling Questions In IELTS Listening

1. Accents

The accent can be any of the three types – British, Canadian or Australian. All of them with their own unique twang and pronunciation of different words. There are also some words that one needs to be familiar with. For example, the commonly used ‘nought’ isn’t very common in India. It could mean zero, failure or nothing depending on the context.

2. The pace of the Audio

The listening exam is unforgiving in a sense because you can hear everything only once and once you’ve missed the information there’s no way of getting it back.

3. Distractors

The information in the audio is not straightforward. There are 4 sections out which 2 are conversations between 2 or more people. In these conversations, you will find distractors or information changing as the audio progresses.

4. Multi-tasking

You have to listen, read and write all at the same time. Yes, there is no respite until the audio clip is done. Extended periods of concentration are a must for acing this test.

5. Different Type of Instructions

  • Deciding whether to choose a letter from the list or write the answer in words? The correct answer is not just the one you find, it’s also the answer that is written according to the instructions.
  • How words & numbers are calculated. The instructions say ‘Write your answer in 2 words’. But the correct answer is nineteen hundred and sixty-two! Converting it into a number like 1962 or not is the difficulty.
  • Transferring answers to the answer script.

Besides all these, wrong spellings are still a concern as we are sure that autocorrect will not be a facility that you can use while typing.

Tips to Overcome the Challenges and Get Better IELTS Listening Score

So, you have already read about the challenges but it is now time to learn about ways to overcome them. Here are some listening tips for IELTS to achieve band 9.

1. Know the Test

Each listening section is devised to test you on different skills. Let us examine each section by its purpose, the skill you will be tested on and the type of questions that you can expect.

Section 1

A telephonic or face to face conversation which has a nature of the enquiry. It could be an enquiry with a tour operator, hotel receptionist or vacation planner. There will be questions and answers from both the people involved in the conversation. 

In this section of the test, you will mostly have a small table with a fill in the blank format which you have to fill as per the word count suggested. 

You may also expect a fill in the blank section in which you will fill basic information. Here the difficulty level may be low and you are mostly asked uncomplicated questions.

Section 2

The second section is mostly instruction based where a professor or management personnel will dictate detailed instructions for a student or employee to follow. The task will be to find matching information or fill in the blanks with a specific word count.

Section 3

As the sections progress the complication level can be expected to rise as well. In this section, you will hear a discussion between a group of people. It could be a discussion before a presentation on a current academic topic. Expect the questions to be relatively tricky. To choose the correct answer, you have to be very precise in your comprehension.

Section 4

This section will generally be a lecture from a professor or an academician on a topic. The skill tested here is the ability to understand complex phrasing and vocabulary.

Since the speaker will be talking about a study on a current issue or scientific discovery, you will be tested on your ability to grasp the core idea and answer questions related to the issue highlighted in the speech.

Use of Distractors

The distractors are put in place to make sure you follow the conversation through and to test your attention span. Naturally, you have to make sure that you are able to do the same without panicking or wondering if you got it right or not.

How to Use the 30 Seconds before the Audio Begins

  • Analyse instructions before starting–Underline keywords in the instruction that make all the difference. For example: Write the answer with a maximum of two words or write the answer in at least two words that mean different things.
  • Skim through questions in the section – You get 30 seconds to look at the instructions and the questions. Underline keywords in the questions to quickly establish the kind of answer that is needed.
  • Identify the type of answer for each question – It could be a name, a number, a city. Predicting the type of answer needed can help you listen for the right answer when the conversation veers towards that topic.

Here are the Various Types of Questions

So before you begin to implement the IELTS listening tips for band score 9, you need to understand the different types of questions that might come during the test. And we have listed the various questions which might appear in the exam, such that you can start analyzing these types of questions beforehand.

  • Multiple choice
  • Matching information
  • Sentence completion
  • Table, diagram, flowchart completion
  • Short answer

Learn How to Write Your Answer

So when you are done learning about questions and struggles you might face during the exam, it is time to learn about the way to answer it now. In order to help you here are 5 different listening tips for IELTS for band score 9, which can work for your benefit if applied properly during the exam and can save much time as well.

4. Knowing the Answer Sheet

Click on the following link to see what an answer sheet looks like.

Example IELTS Answer Sheet – Click here to download

As you can see above, there are no questions to refer to. You have to write the correct answer as per the instructions next to the correct number. Your answers could be alphabets, names, number or just the correct information within the word limit. Make sure you map the right answer to the right question number.

  • Pen vs pencil – We advise using a pencil and not a pen to mark answers. This is a great way of dealing and coping with distractors and spelling mistakes that you may spot later.
  • Upper vs lower case – We advise using all uppercase in the tests or all lowercase. There is no need to worry about it since the marking is case insensitive.

5. Listen to Various Types of Audios

For overcoming the accent and vocabulary related challenges listen to podcasts, BBC radio, speeches, TED Talks and the likes.

6. Improve Your Concentration

We suggest starting with listening to short audios then progressing to longer audios. Taking on too much at the beginning can make you feel hopeless while preparing. Conditioning your mind to move on and not panic when you miss an answer is an essential part of dealing with adversity that comes with the IELTS.

7. Learn to Multitask

This is one challenge that can only be overcome with practice. Reading the question, listening to the answer and writing down the correct one at the same time is not as easy as it seems. Generally, you get 30-40 seconds between each answer in the audio. This gives you the much-needed time to read the next question quickly.

To get better at this, take dictations or write transcripts with professional help. There are many experts online that can guide with simple practice sessions.

8. Practice with Timed Tests

This is one of the obvious IELTS listening tips for band 9. Practising each section separately is good at the beginning but taking a full test can leave your mind exhausted with the effort of concentrating. Don’t feel complacent and continue practising even if your initial score is decent.


Hopefully, this article will help you get a better band score at this section of the test and will eventually enhance your overall band score as well. But, to score better in all the papers, five equal focus on academic reading, writing and IELTS speaking too. And, don’t forget to do IELTS listening practice online.

Best of luck!

Also Read : How To Solve Diagram Labelling Questions In IELTS Listening

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