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The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

Top tips for the IELTS listening test

Understanding English when it’s spoken by a fluent speaker can be difficult for a prospective international student. Here’s a sneak peek of the IELTS Listening exam, including questions and test audio samples to help you prepare...

IELTS listening test

The IELTS listening exam consists of 40 questions that assess a wide range of skills, including understanding of main ideas and specific factual information, recognising opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker and following the development of an argument.




The listening section of the IELTS exam requires you to listen to a recorded CD featuring voices speaking in English and answer questions about the content over what they’re saying.


The speakers on the CD may be speaking with one of several possible accents including American, British, Australian or Kiwi (New Zealand).


The listening section is sat at the same time as the reading and writing parts of your IELTS exam though it’s shorter at 30 mins long. You’ll also be given an additional 10 mins to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. You’ll also have time to look through the questions beforehand and then check your answers again afterwards.



Section 1 consists of a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency)


Section 2 it is often a monologue set in an everyday social context, the purpose being identifying people’s opinions or emotions of the situation (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference).


Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project)


Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture)



Practise examples

We have compiled a set of 4 sections below for you to start practising. These materials have been taken from the IELTS official website, where you can find more sample tests and more relevant information:


Listening Task 1: Form Completion

Questions 1 - 8: Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer:




Listening Task 2: Multiple Choice




Listening Task 3: Short Answer

Questions 11 - 16: Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer.



Listening Task 4: Sentence Completion

Questions 27 - 30: Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.





See what you can expect from an IELTS test day, including the listening portion of the exam. Watch our playlist of videos from our day at an IELTS test, including why you should take IELTS and tips from candidates:




How you’re assessed

There are 40 questions altogether each worth one mark each. Scores are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.



Tip from an expert: Bryan Dowie, Road to IELTS

‘My favourite Listening tip is to concentrate! The Listening test is quite hard and, if you let your concentration waiver, you will miss important information. Stay switched throughout. The answers to the questions are often in the same order in the as the questions (i.e. you will hear the answer to Q1 before Q2 and so on).’



Don’t stop there! Read our tips for the other sections of the IELTS test...

IELTS reading

IELTS speaking

IELTS writing



Find out more:

For access to more information and sample tests, please visit the IELTS official website

You can also visit Road to IELTS for tips, videos, exercises and other IELTS preparation resources


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