Friday, May 5, 2017

Tips to Ace the IELTS Listening Exam

As an IELTS test taker, your listening skills are the first communicative ability that the international language proficiency exam evaluates.  Test administrators give you 30 minutes to accomplish 40 questions and another 10 minutes to transfer your final answers to the answer sheet. The difficulty of questions progresses as you advance through the exam.

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The test has four sections that tackle different social situations. Topics of the recordings for each part are as follows: a conversation about a common topic, a monologue concerning a general agenda, a conversation between two intellectual speakers and a discourse regarding an academic subject.

All audio materials are played only once. The answers are mentioned in the recording in the same order as their corresponding questions. Notably, wrong answers are not deducted from your test results as your final listening score is calculated based on the number of correct answers you have provided.

Enrolling in a top IELTS review center, like the IELTS review center in Baguio, is one of the best ways to prepare for the test. Instructors know the ins and outs of the IELTS exam. They can guide you not only in honing your language skills but also in understanding how the test works. IELTS review center mentors can also provide simulations to help you adjust to the demands of the listening exam.

The results of the listening evaluation make up one-fourth of your overall band score. So, aside from studying with a top training facility like the IELTS review center in Baguio, elevate your chances of achieving your band score goals by considering the following tips when you take the IELTS listening test. 


•    Be familiar with various English accents. Speakers in audio materials are native English-speakers from various parts of the world.

•    Practice listening and writing simultaneously. This skill is crucial when taking the IELTS listening test. Concentrating on listening to the audio recording can cause you to lose track of the question number. The same situation can occur if you focus solely on writing.


•    Predict the answers. There is a 30- to 40-second break between each test section. Do not waste your time rechecking answers. Use this interval to read the questions for the following section so that you can anticipate what answers to look for in the next audio materials.

•    Concentrate on two things: listening to the recording and following the questions. Remember that you can only listen to the audio material once and that answers appear in the same order as the questions.

•    Jot down your answers on the questionnaire as soon as you can. Disregard correct spelling for writing speed if necessary. Spelling, grammar and structure only matter when you are transferring your answers to the answer sheet. Also, try to write as legible as you can.

•    Listen for answers. Recordings can give answers in quick successions or with minute intervals.

•    Do not let unfamiliar expressions confuse you. You do not need to understand everything about the dialogue. Focus on identifying the answers and following the materials.

•    Skip questions that you cannot answer. Do not risk getting left behind the recording by lingering on a question. Note down your best guess based on what you remember and move on to the next question.

•    Be aware that answers can change immediately, especially in conversation situations. Sometimes, speakers backtrack and alter established information in the course of their discussion.

•    Follow the instructions. Some test items impose strict word counts for answers. Exceeding the required number of words will cost you a point. Keep in mind that numbers (ex. 2,000,101), dates (ex. 2017), and hyphenated words (ex. mother-in-law) are considered as one word.

•    Use your pencil and eraser wisely. Do not waste time erasing mistakes when you can be jotting down notes in the questionnaire. Crossing them out is more time-efficient. On the other hand, use the eraser when correcting your answers on the answer sheet.

•    Utilize your most efficient writing style. Writing down your answers with uppercase or lowercase letters will not affect your score.

•    Leave no blank spaces. Answer as much as you can. Remember, there are no deductions for wrong answers.

•    Make sure that your answer sheet is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Double-check your capitalizations, punctuations and spellings. If you are not sure of a word’s correct spelling, check if the unfamiliar word is mentioned in the questions.

The IELTS listening exam evaluates not only your listening skills but also your other linguistic capacities. It challenges your comprehension, vocabulary and grammar abilities in a time-pressured and fast-paced examination. Do not let the demands of the test overwhelm you. Follow the above mentioned tips to bolster your chances of reaching your band score goals.  


  • “IELTS Listening Description.” IELTS™. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  • Liz. “IELTS Listening Essential 25 Tips. “ IELTS Liz. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  • Pell, Christopher. “IELTS Listening Overview and Tips.” IELTS Advantage. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  • “Listening Test Advice.” British Council. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  • “IELTS Listening Tips.” IETS Buddy. Accessed February 15, 2017.

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