IELTS: Listening

Information about the listening part of the IELTS exam

The listening section is in 4 parts. There are 40 questions to answer and the test will take 30 minutes.

In section 1 there will be an informal conversation with two people in an everyday, informal situation. For example, you might hear a husband and wife talking about television.

In section 2 there will be one person talking in an informal situation.

In section 3 this you will hear a conversation involving a few speakers. It is more formal than Section 1. The conversation is more academic and might be about students making plans or talking about about college or university.

In section 4 you will hear a more formal talk or lecture by one person.

Improving your listening skills

There are three important things you should do before your listening exam to help you get the best possible mark:

1. Hold as many conversations as you can in English preferably with a native speaker

When you hold a conversation in English this is intense listening practice which is excellent for your overall listening comprehension.

2. Listen to a variety of English as much as you can

You need to improve your overall English language comprehension and this is done by listening a lot. You can do this by:

listening to the news in English (for example BBC online)
watching English language TV and films
listening to lectures in English (see this link for lists of English lectures online)
listen and read what people say (for example the Yappr site)
listen at Randall's ESL cyber listening lab

3. Do some practice exams

It is important to do a few practice listening exams before you do the real exam so you find out what the exam is like. You can do these online, or you can by a book from a bookshop with a CD. However, don't ONLY do practice exams. Do general listening in steps 1 and 2 as well.

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