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Whether you are looking to ace your General Training test or get a good score in your Academic test, the Listening test is one area that is simple to score, provided you get enough practice. 

The Listening test is divided into four different recordings which you will listen to before answering a series of questions. 

In this article, we will take you through what to expect for your Listening test and how to effectively prepare to score your best on test day! 

Four things you need to know about the IELTS Listening test

1. The four recordings you will be listening to

There will be a series of recordings that you will have to listen to and digest. They are: 

Recording 1: A conversation between two people having an everyday social interaction 

Recording 2: A monologue, or speech, about an issue set in a common everyday social context 

Recording 3: A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or business training context 

Recording 4: A monologue on an academic subject such as a university lecture (eg. Science, politics, business) 

It is important that you take note of the main idea, the detailed facts and the opinions of the speakers. You will have to listen to the recordings while writing your answers on the question paper at the same time.  

At the end of the test, you are given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. That is in addition to the total of 30 minutes allocated for the entire Listening test. 

2. The six different tasks you will need to handle

During the Listening test, you will have a total of 40 questions spread across six different tasks to answerexternal icon

These include: 

Task 1 - Multiple choice questions 

Where you need to choose the best possible answer or answers if you are required to choose more than one. 

Task 2 - Matching 

You will need to match a numbered list of items from the recording to a set of options on the question paper. 

Task 3 - Plan, map, diagram labelling 

You are required to complete labels on a plan, map or diagram. This is a test on relating the information to a visual representation. 

Task 4 - Form, note, table, flowchart, summary completion 

You are tasked to fill in the gaps in an outline of a part or the entire listening text in various formats. It is important to keep to the word limit stated in the task. 

Task 5 - Sentence completion 

You are required to summarise key information from the listening text by filling in a gap in each sentence while adhering to the word limit. 

Task 6 - Short answer question 

You will need to write a short answer that directly answers the question provided using information from the text. You will have to follow a strict word limit here as well.

Each task here is to test a different skill not just in your listening abilities but how you interpret the information given to you. 

3. How to approach the Listening test

Because of the time limit as well as the added stress of answering while you listen, it is important that you can quickly understand the idea being shared and process the information quickly. 

Here are three things you must take note of to get the edge for your test! 

A. Start listening and getting familiar with various accents

The recordings will be played across a range of accents that include the British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian accents. 

This means it is important you practice a variety of sample Listening tests for the recordings while also exposing yourself to these accents across various news channels like CNN and the BBC. 

B. Pay extra attention to your spelling and grammar

While answering every question within the time limit is essential, you want to minimise your mistakes as much as possible in order to prevent getting penalised. 

Always double check your answers, especially in the short-answer question section! 

C. Take multiple practice tests and time yourself

Because you will only listen to the recording once and you have to answer simultaneously, it is important that you practice, practice and practice! 

Be sure to time yourself as well so that you will understand the type of tasks that are more challenging for you so that you can focus on improving those.

A close up shot of a black keyboard and a pair of white headphones over it.

4. Prepare yourself better with these resources

A great way to ensure you are well-prepared is to start taking sample practice tests that will mimic the real conditions of the Reading test. 

You can access our test preparation materials here

In addition, you can also attend a free IELTS Masterclassexternal icon presented by IELTS experts who will share tips and tricks, including on the Reading section, to help you score better with confidence! 

If you prefer a paid option to simulate the exact test you will encounter, without the actual grading, you can take the IELTS Progress Check paid testexternal icon

It will be as close as possible to the real deal and you will also get back personalised feedback that will be valuable to help you pinpoint areas that need improvement. 

A male IELTS test taker sitting with his laptop and taking notes.

Prepare for the IELTS Listening test with IDP today

Preparing early for your Listening test is essential. It allows you to get familiar with the format, which can get confusing. 

Take the time to go through our resources and prepare yourself better with our wide range of sample tests at your disposal! 

At IDP, we have a world of resources and IELTS supportexternal icon that you can rely on to help you score better! 

Be sure to check out our IELTS preparation materials here as well as read hand-picked tips on how to prepare and ace the testexternal icon

And once you are ready, you can book your IELTS test hereexternal icon