IELTS Listening Test

The Listening section of the IELTS test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General. Make sure you are ready for the Listening part of your IELTS test by reading the information below, which covers what to expect on the test day, the types of questions you’ll be asked and how to get the best marks.

Test format: What to expect in your IELTS Listening test

There are four recordings to listen to in the Listening section of the test, and you have a total of about 30 minutes to complete these. If you are doing the IELTS on paper test, you also have an extra ten minutes on top to transfer your answers to your answer sheet.

Your exam paper will include questions based on the recording you’ve just listened to, asking you to pick out key pieces of information and write them down. You can make notes during the course of the recording, and you will also have time to write up your answers once the recording has finished.

You’ll be asked 40 questions altogether – 10 questions on each recording – and you should answer all of them if you can. Each question is worth one mark.

*Top Tip: Remember, rushing won’t help so take some deep breaths and try to relax. Assigning enough time to look through the questions beforehand is always a good idea, and the same goes for double checking your answers once you’ve completed them.

Listening test sections

Make sure you know what each section of the Listening test will involve. Here is a breakdown of the type of content you can expect from the four recordings in your exam.

Recording 1

This involves a conversation between two people in an everyday social situation.

Recording 2

This includes a monologue set in an everyday social situation. For example, a speech about local facilities.

Recording 3

This includes a conversation between up to four people and is set in a more formal educational or training setting, i.e., a student and university tutor discussing an assignment.

Recording 4

The includes another monologue, but this time on an academic subject. For example, a university lecture.

How much preparation do I need to do for the Listening section?

The more you practice for your IELTS Listening exam, the more at ease you’ll feel on test day. Doing practice tests is as much about getting used to the test format as it is about improving your mark. The pre-exam mock tests also help you to identify what level you are at, and which areas of the Listening test are your weaker ones, meaning you know which areas to focus on in your preparation.

It’s difficult to give an exact number of hours you’ll need to dedicate to practising as everyone learns at different speeds, but it is certainly worth over preparing! Plus, you might just earn yourself a better score if you do, so there’s nothing to lose!

Listening test advice

For each question you will be given enough time to read it, before listening to the question out loud. Please be aware that the audio for each question will only be played to you one time.

As you are listening to the question, you can write your answer as notes on the question paper. When the test ends, you will need to transfer your answers from the question paper onto the answer sheet in pencil. This can be in capital letters or in lower case. You will not be marked for anything written on your question paper, so it is vital that you input your answers into the answer sheet correctly.

Have you booked your IELTS test yet?

Book your IELTS exam today. There are over 80 British Council test centres across Canada, so you’re sure to find one near you. Find your nearest centre here and register online now with British Council. Visit the IELTS Canada homepage to find out more.

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Need more information on the other parts of your test?

Test & practice tips for IELTS Speaking

Learn more

Test & practice tips for IELTS Reading

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Test & practice tips for IELTS Writing

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Frequently Asked Questions

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