IELTS Listening module consists of 4 sections viz. Section 1, Section 2, Section 3 and Section 4. Out of all these sections, Section 3 is the part where you listen to an audio conversation with up to 4 people.

This is perhaps one of the most difficult sections since you have to listen to a number of people. The reason is that in IELTS listening section 3, you are very likely to get confused with the voices and the conversation going on, which may become cumbersome for you to catch up when you try to relate this audio with the question.

How to Get a Better IELTS Listening Score?

Let’s discuss in detail how to crack section 3 of the IELTS listening test.

In IELTS listening section 3, you can commonly find any of the questions types such as table completion, MCQs (multiple choice questions), matching headings, flowcharts or diagrams. However, form filling and sentence completion are not usually seen in this section.

To approach the above question types, there are some unique tips to be kept in mind, while the basic things that you can concentrate on while attempting section 3 in the IELTS listening test remain the same for all kinds of questions. Let us discuss the approach you can adopt for IELTS listening test section 3 by taking the example of MCQs types of question paper:

IELTS Listening Section Pattern

The International English Language Testing System Listening module is distributed into 4 sections. The first 2 recordings of conversations are related to social needs, while the last 2 recordings are related to situations more nearly associated with education.

The duration of all the recordings will be around 3 mins long. The conversations can be both dialogues and monologues. These recordings will be played once only. There will be different kinds of questions that will be asked in the exam, like labelling a diagram, MCQs, note completion, short-answer questions, sentence completion, etc.

Number of questions in IELTS Listening section 40+
Duration of the test 30mins

Section 1 and 2

1 and 2 Sections are about day to day, social situations.

Recording 1 The recording in the first section will be based on a conversation about day to day social context between 2 people.
Recording 2 The recording in the second section will be a monologue set in a day to day social context.

Section 3 and 4

3 and 4 Sections are about training and educational situations.

Recording 3 The recording in the third section will be based on a conversation about training and educational context between 4 people.
Recording 4 The recording in the fourth section will be a monologue on an academic topic.

Also Read: IELTS Exam Time Duration: Checkout the Section-wise Duration of the IELTS Exam

Underline Keywords

Underlining important keywords in the question paper is the most effective strategy for solving the IELTS listening practice test. For this, you can utilize 1 minute, given to you prior to listening to the audio conversation.

Also Read: 9 Best Apps for IELTS Preparation: A Step Forward to Reach Your Desired Band Score

How to Underline Keywords?

Simple MCQ Question Type

Joy has been working in the hospital for

# Three years

# One year

# Four years

In the above question, the main keywords you can focus upon are “Joy”, “working” and “hospital”. Hence, you can highlight these keywords by underlining them.

Afterwards, when the audio starts, just keep these underlined keywords in your mind to get the gist of the question while having your eyes on the three options; “three”, “one” and “four” and just avoid the common word “years”.

So, you have to choose the short answer out of those three numbers only and this is how you are able to solve this type of question easily. Similarly, you can use the same strategy to write your answers for difficult question papers as well.

Difficult  MCQ Question Type

Let us now discuss the difficult type of MCQs.

John was successful in his business because he

# recruited hundred more employees

# was the highly skilled professional

# could reach out to maximum customers

In the above type of question where it is comparatively difficult to concentrate, you can underline keywords as highlighted above. Now, let us find some important points to be noted for solving IELTS listening section 3.

Essential Tips for Better Score in IELTS Listening Section 3

# Listen to the introduction and example audio properly to be able to recognize different voices well.

# While focusing on the underlined keywords in the question, it is also important to understand the question because some of the keywords in the options or the complete option itself may be paraphrased in the audio.

# Using 1 minute to get an overview of the section would help you to familiarize yourself with the questions.

Also Read: How to Write Advantages & Disadvantages Essay Questions in IELTS Writing Task 2?

More Tips to Get Better IELTS Listening Band Score

# Remember that while listening to the audio, you have to be quick enough to move your eyes over all the questions as well as options so that you are aligned up well with the audio and there is no chance of skipping a question.

# Lastly, do remember that information in the audio always flows in the same order as the order of question. So, you have to be continuously going on by immediately moving to the next question instead of looking back for any skipped question or unsure marked answer.

IELTS Preparation Tips

If you wish to secure a high Band Score in the International English Language Testing System, then you have to perform well in the IELTS Listening Test. For many people, this is the simplest section to prepare as it is easy to prepare if you know certain methods which add to effective and fun learning. Even if you’re good at this section, it doesn’t mean that you should take this section lightly. You have to focus on it previously as it is different from the rest of the IELTS exam sections.

Given below are a few best tactics for improving your International English Language Testing System score and helping you with effective preparation.

Practice Regularly

By far the most crucial thing you will read today about the listening section is to practice daily. We know it is obvious but still, many aspirants fail to do that. If you really want to secure an above band score of 8 in the IELTS exam, you have to be regular with your studies and take it very seriously.

We know you don’t want to do boring practice tests daily so the good news for the candidates is that you don’t have to do that instead you can make learning fun. Learn from your surroundings, you can watch YouTube videos, TV shows, movies, listen to podcasts or radio, lectures, discussions or tune in to news broadcasts that will help you improve your Listening English skills. All of these activities will benefit you in various ways.

Be an active listener, that’s the main thing you should keep in mind. When you are listening to something, be attentive and always think about what you are listening to. Don’t let the process of learning become boring, because it will lead to a waste of time and inefficient preparation.

Whenever you are listening to something get yourself engaged to it fully and jot down new words. Challenge yourself constantly, ask questions to yourself. That way you will build your confidence over time.

You will Come Across Different Accents So Get Used to It

Do not miss out on exposing yourself to different types of accents, while preparing for the International English Language Testing System Listening test. You must already be aware that IELTS is a British test but don’t forget English is an international language.

That means you might hear different accents of English, so be prepared and don’t be surprised. If you want to score high in the IELTS listening section you have to be familiar with different accents such as Australian English, Scottish English, American English and Irish English. You can watch or listen to BBC news broadcasts, American TV shows to hear and understand the difference in their speech.

By hearing different accents you will get familiar with the speech and you will be able to understand the recording. That will help you answer the related questions.

Understand the Format of the Exam

It is suggested that you should know the structure of the International English Language Testing System exam, not just the English language. To this end, you have to become aware of the listening section and what is the format.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult and it’s in fact the same for both general and academic aspirants. You can effortlessly build up the foundation by doing some test series.

When you understand the pattern properly and do your preparation accordingly, you will be prepared to appear for the International English Language Testing System exam. You won’t be startled by anything and you will feel more comfortable and confident.

It is also worth understanding some general rules and common question types, for instance, the certainty that the answer and questions answers will constantly come in the exact order. Understanding this can enable you to guide your preparation.

Develop Your Vocabulary Skills

Vocabulary is very crucial when it comes to comprehending any language. It is the foundation by which our languages are built.

As such, you need to have a decent vocabulary. This suggests knowing tons of words from a broad range of subjects. The best way to learn is to understand the most usual International English Language Testing System topics ( such as education, health, society, environment, sport, etc) and then learn words associated with these. Try to learn a new language in bits and pieces so that you can understand it properly and in a correct manner.

By learning new words you will become more active in vocabulary and you can apply it in day to day language to communicate.

When you communicate you will ultimately become more used to those words and you can use them in your exam as well. Also when you hear the recordings in the International English Language Testing System you will be able to recognise the words easily that are being used in the conversation. It will help you secure better scores in the Listening test.

Grammar Helps a Lot

Grammar is equally important as vocabulary. If you don’t have knowledge of grammar it will be very hard for you to clear the International English Language Testing System exam.

You may assume that “grammar is just important for speaking and writing,” but it is very important in the Listening section as well. The reality is that if you don’t know grammar, you will only be able to guess the answers. Which is not enough to crack the examination.

At least you need to learn the basic grammar, like tenses (simple present, simple past). The small difference in the sentence that you will hear in the listening test, will make a huge difference in the meaning. So learning grammar will give you a better chance of getting the answers correct.

Furthermore, there are a few questions in the listening test that need an understanding of grammar. In one of the sections, you will be asked to complete the sentence where you will need grammar. If you know the basic rules of grammar you will be able to find out the answers. For instance, are you required to figure out a noun, a verb or an adjective? Just understanding this easy fact can provide you with a huge chance of a right answer.

Manage Your Time

The listening test would be so simple if you had many hours to complete it! Unfortunately, you just have a very restricted duration and so you need to fight against the time to complete your paper.

You will be allowed to listen to the recording once in the International English Language Testing System Listening test. So you need to be good at jotting down the points, finding the answers and listening actively. Many candidates face one problem, which is not being able to hear or find the answer in the recording. That’s why they get stuck in one answer and miss out on another.

Move To Next Question

The exam answer comes in a systematic manner, after answer #9 the answer # 10 will come. So if you waste too much time figuring out the #9 answer you will miss out on the #10th answer. Because the recording will be played once at one pace it won’t be played again, be careful.

There is a high chance of losing points. So you should keep up with the pace and move on to the next answer. If you don’t want to lose any further marks. It is advised you look at the questions beforehand, listen to the recording attentively and hope for the next question if you can’t find the answer. Don’t get stuck with one answer.

You need to practice a lot to get better at listening to the recordings. So try out the listening test series during your preparation. You will get a better knowledge of how it works.

Also Read: The Ultimate Guide for IELTS Preparation Online: Get Your Desired Band Score


Follow the above-mentioned tips while you solve the IELTS listening practice test and for a better band score, you can always get enrolled in online training courses where you can get a personal mentor to guide you in every step.

Do let us know how your practice is going by commenting in the box below.

Also Read: 5 Amazing Tips to Get High IELTS Listening Band Score on Section 3

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About the Author


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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