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If you are looking to study overseas at your dream university, chances are you’ll have to take the IELTS and score well enough to attain the IELTS band necessary for your application.

Thankfully, with good preparation and the right resources, you’ll be able to practice your way to success - especially during the Listening test component. 

However, how you prepare for your test is just as important and with various misconceptions around the Listening test, you want to make sure that you avoid the myths and concentrate on what’s being evaluated. 

In this article, we will be taking you through 9 misconceptions of the IELTS Listening test and why they are false. 

Debunking 9 myths of the IELTS Listening test

1. Answering the question without paying attention to spelling or grammar is acceptable

While you might be tempted to just simply answer the question directly and write down your answers as quickly as possible, you need to pay attention to your spelling and grammar use as well. 

Especially during the short-answer question section, while you might be writing just a few words, your answers will have to use the right grammar and be spelt correctly in order to score the maximum possible marks.

2. The audio will be played in random order so extra care needs to be paid

Taking the IELTS Listening test definitely requires you to pay good attention to the audio, however, it is a myth that the audio during the test will be played in random order. 

The audio conversation will always follow the order of questions in the test, so you don’t need to worry about the sequence but pay attention to the contents of the audio in greater detail to better answer the questions. 

3. Practicing sample Listening tests isn’t necessary

A big misconception is that the Listening tests require you to simply listen to audio clips and answer simple questions at the end. 

But in reality, the test format has four unique different tasks that can throw you off if you do not practice. 

From multiple-choice questions to diagram labelling and summary completion, each task requires the candidate to understand the contents of the audio and then fulfil a specific set of instructions in order to complete it. 

Without practising the tests, you will be rather unfamiliar with the format resulting in scoring poorly on the test day, even though your listening ability is good.

4. Every candidate will be given a private headset

While candidates can be given a private headset during the Listening test, this is not always true. 

Certain testing centres offer a sound system with speakers for the audio part of the test. It is best to check with your specific test centre if your venue provides a headset or not. 

Alternatively, you can practice your mock tests at home utilising both your computer speakers and a headset so that you can get ample practice with both variations. 

5. I can take my time to write down my answers

There is a time limit to each section of the Listening test with each section and task getting progressively more challenging. 

In total, you will have only 30 minutes plus 10 minutes of transfer time to complete the test. 

In this respect, it is highly recommended that you time yourself during practice sessions and maximise as much as possible every minute during the test to write down your answers.

6. The IELTS on computer test will be different from the paper test

The only difference will be the answers where you will input them in.  

For the computer test, you will type in your answers into the computer while for the paper test, you will be writing your answers down on paper. 

It is good to decide on which format of the test you are most comfortable with and then practice it to get comfortable. 

7. The Listening test will be conducted in my native accent

While the Listening test can be conducted in your country, the audio recordings played will be from a range of accents that include the British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian accents. 

To prepare for this, you should expose yourself to both the sample tests as well as various audio accents in real life such as from the BBC radio station. This will allow you to be comfortable and better understand the audio content no matter the accent.

A female candidate preparing for the listening test.

8. The audio will pause after each section

Perhaps the most dangerous misconception to debunk, it is important to note that there is no pausing or restarting of the Listening test. 

The audio is done continuously without any pauses for you to write down your answers. You will have to answer the questions as you listen to the recordings. 

As such, you should practice the Listening test to really get comfortable with this multi-tasking. 

9. As long as my answers are correct, I can ignore the instructions

Perhaps the most dangerous misconception to debunk, it is important to note that there is no pausing or restarting of the Listening test. 

For each of the tasks, there will be instructions that you should follow, especially the last task that might specifically ask you to fill in the gaps with the information presented in a specific way - such as “no more than 3 words and/or a number”. 

Even if your answer is correct and you go beyond the number of words specified, you will be penalised and marked down. 

A female test taker preparing for listening test