An introduction to

The IELTS listening test.

The IELTS listening test structure is discussed and the type of questions demonstrated. Strategies are suggested for dealing with the various question types as well as for the Listening Test in general.

About IELTS Listening Test.

All candidates, both Academic and General Training Modules, do the same Listening test, but the version (or questions) differs according to the test date.
• The Listening test is recorded on a CD.
• The recording is played only once.
• A range of English accents is used in the recordings to cater for the international usage of IELTS.
There are four sections of 10 questions each, making 40 questions in total.
• Each of the four sections is a similar length.
• Each section is more difficult than the previous one.


One mark is awarded for each question, giving a total score out of 40.
• The total Listening test score is converted to a Band Score from 1 to 9.
• Scores are reported in whole and half bands, for example 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5 and so on.

There is no pass or fail.
• A score of 31-40 should be acceptable for postgraduate studies, and for membership of and recognition by certain professional bodies.
• A score of 26-30 will probably be an acceptable score for most institutions and purposes, although a higher score may sometimes be required.
• A score of 15-25 may not be an acceptable score, so you may need to spend more time practising before you take the test again.
• A score of 0-14 is unlikely to be an acceptable score, so you will have to spend a lot more time improving your listening skills in English.

The following guide may help you determine your English level:
• Band 9: Expert user
• Band 8: Very good user
• Band 7: Good user
• Band 6: Competent user
• Band 5: Modest user
• Band 4: Limited user
• Band 3: Extremely limited user
• Band 2: Intermittent user
• Band 1: Non-user

There are 4 parts in the IELTS listening test.

The first two sections, 1 and 2, are concerned with social situations, or everyday events.
• Section 1 is a conversation between two speakers, about things like accommodation and shopping.
• Section 2 is a monologue or short talk, giving practical information for daily living.
The final two sections, 3 and 4, are concerned with situations related more closely to educational
and training contexts, e.g. a student assignment, or a lecture. All the topics are of general academic
interest, and it makes no difference what subjects you are studying.
• Section 3 is a conversation, usually between two people, but can be up to four people.
• Section 4 is a monologue or lecture.

A variety of possible question types are used for the Listening test:
• multiple choice
• short answer (up to three words)
• sentence completion (no more than three words)
• completing a form, notes, a table, a summary or a flow chart
• labelling a diagram, plan or map
• matching ( e.g. information with pictures, or lettered items in a list).

On the day of the test you will do the Listening module first. The examiner will:
• give you an answer sheet
• read you the instructions for the Listening test procedure
• give you the IELTS Listening test question booklet.
The test takes 30 minutes. After the test, another 10 minutes are allocated to transfer answers from the question booklet to the answer sheet.

During the test, some time is given for you to read the questions before listening to each section.
It is very important to read the relevant questions during this time.
You need to write the answers directly in the question booklet as you listen.
The questions follow the same sequence as the information in the test section.

Other IELTS Tests

So you have got some information of IELTS listening test, now let’s find out about the other IELTS tests before you start taking part in an IELTS Preparation course.

ielts reading

IELTS Reading test.

IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing test.

IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking test.

Need help for your IELTS.

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