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IELTS Listening Exam Introduction

To do well in the IELTS Listening Exam and to achieve a high band score it is essential to first understand the test and the types of questions that you will be asked.

The purpose of this article is to give you an overview of the IELTS listening exam.

Summary of the listening test

  1. As IELTS is an international test there will be a range of accents, the most common being British and Australian.
  2. British English and American English spelling are both acceptable.
  3. All students take the same test regardless of whether they are taking the Academic or General IELTS exam.
  4. There are 40 questions split up into four sections, which are:
  5. ielts listening examTwo people speaking, perhaps in a phone conversation, in a restaurant or an apartment.
  6. One person, perhaps a tourist guide, speaking.
  7. Three or four speakers having an academic discussion.
  8. One person delivering an academic lecture.
  9. The test lasts for 40 minutes:
    • 30 minutes for listening and writing down the answers.
    • 10 minutes for transferring the answers to the answer sheet.
  1. The sections get progressively more difficult.

Question types

There are nine types of questions, which you might be asked in the exam:

  1. Sentence Completion.
  2. Multiple-Choice.
  3. Note completion.
  4. Form completion.
  5. Table completion.
  6. Map labelling.
  7. Former chart.
  8. Summary completion.
  9. Sentence completion.

To do well in the exam and get a high band score practise answering these nine question types so that you will be used to the type of question when you sit the exam.

When you practise taking sample tests train yourself to get progressively quicker at answering them until you can answer them within the time limit. During the exam you will take the listening reading and writing tests together without a break. You will be allowed a total of two hours and 40 minutes for all three tests, which is why it is important to practice answering questions within the time limit. The IELTS speaking test lasts for 40 minutes.

For one-on-one IELTS coaching lessons check out our free assessment and sample lesson.

2 comments

  1. Juliet Jones says:

    Personally, I think it is worrisome at some point that both the General and Academic IELTS exams are usually similar in terms of the questions setup. Well, this might go beyond what we can control for now, but my candid advice for anyone out there preparing for the IELTS exam is to practise adequately with sample questions. This is definitely the best way to obtain a high band score.

  2. Jack says:

    When it comes to the types of question we expect to see in the IELTS Listening section, Former Chart looks and sounds confusing. Could it be that we’ll be requested to complete a flow chart or draw an organizational chart based on the information we heard from the listening test

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