ELT Blog

28 Tips to Boost Your IELTS Listening Score

IELTS Listening Tips
In this comprehensive guide you will learn about the invaluable tips, techniques, and pieces of advice to enhance your performance in the IELTS listening test. Covering aspects from understanding test structure to dealing with specific question types, she provides a step-by-step breakdown to help you navigate the challenges of the test effectively. Whether you are grappling with accents, tackling common traps, or strategizing your approach to various question formats, these tips aim to equip you with the tools needed for success in the IELTS listening examination. Embrace these insights to boost your confidence, refine your skills, and maximize your scoring potential.

1) Test Overview:

  • Tip 1: The IELTS listening test has four sections with a total of 40 questions.

Test Sections:

  • Section 1: Social, two speakers, e.g., phone conversation or booking a table.
  • Section 2: Social, one speaker, e.g., tour guide explaining a resort.
  • Section 3: Academic, three to four speakers, challenging discussion.
  • Section 4: Academic, one speaker, an academic lecture.

2) Sections Breakdown:

  • Tip 2: Section 1 and 2 are social with one or two speakers, while Section 3 is academic with three to four speakers. Section 4 is an academic lecture. Practice more for academic sections.

3) Test Duration:

  • Tip 3: The listening test takes 40 minutes in total, with 30 minutes for listening and 10 minutes for transferring answers to the answer sheet.

4) Answer Sheet:

  • Tip 4: Practice using the answer sheet before the actual test. It is crucial to be comfortable with all parts of the test, including transferring answers within the allocated 10 minutes.

5) Listening Approach:

  • Tip 5: You hear the recording only once. Practice listening, reading, and writing simultaneously as you need to multitask during the test.

6) Writing Tool:

  • Tip 6: Use a pencil to write your answers on the answer sheet.

7) Scoring System:

  • Tip 7: Scores are calculated by the number of correct answers. There are 40 questions, and each correct answer contributes to the band score.

8) Capitalization in Answers:

  • Tip 8: You can write answers in capital letters or lowercase, but be consistent throughout the test.

9) Instructions for Answer Length:

  • Tip 9: Pay attention to the instructions about the number of words allowed for each answer. Follow specific rules like "no more than two words" or "a number."

10) Understanding Question Types:

  • Tip 10: Different question types require different approaches, considering whether you are making notes or completing sentences.

11) Spelling Matters:

  • Tip 11: Spelling is crucial. Pay attention to it, especially during the 10-minute transfer time at the end of the test.

12) Words or Letters on Answer Sheet:

  • Tip 12: Read instructions carefully; some questions require writing a word, while others might need writing a letter as an answer.

12) Question Types:

  • Tip 13: Learn about the various types of questions and practice each type before the actual test.

13) Selective Listening:

  • Tip 13: Focus on finding answers rather than trying to understand everything. The goal is to score points, not comprehend every detail.

14) Preparing for Questions:

  • Tip 14: Use the provided preparation time efficiently. Underline key words in questions to prepare yourself better.

15) Quick Answers:

  • Tip 15: Be prepared for answers that come quickly. Making notes can be helpful, especially for long answers.

16) Answer Gaps:

  • Tip 16: Be ready for gaps between answers. Keep your focus and wait for the relevant information.

17) Common Traps:

  • Tip 17: Be cautious of common traps, such as changing information after providing an initial answer.

18) Repeated Answers:

  • Tip 18: In discussions involving multiple speakers, answers might be repeated. Use this repetition to your advantage.

19) Plurals:

  • Tip 19: Pay attention to plurals. IELTS often tests the ability to hear plurals, so be attentive.

20) Guessing Strategy:

  • Tip 20: If you don't know the answer, guess. There's no penalty for incorrect answers, and guessing increases the chance of getting points.

21) Listening to Examples:

  • Tip 21: Listen carefully to the example provided at the beginning of Section 1. It helps you get used to speaker voices.

22) Accents:

  • Tip 22: Practice listening to different accents, as the IELTS test includes a range of English accents.

23) Checking Questions:

  • Tip 23: Always check where all the questions are. Make sure you are aware of the total number of questions for each set.

24) Moving Quickly:

  • Tip 24: If you miss an answer, move quickly to the next question. There's no time to go back in the IELTS listening test.

25) Technical and Academic Language:

  • Tip 25: Technical and academic language is often not paraphrased. Don't be intimidated; it can help you keep your place in the recording.

26) Word for Word Answers:

  • Tip 26: Write down the words you hear for sentence completion. Paraphrasing is not allowed; the answer must match the wording.

27) Headphones Check:

  • Tip 27: Ensure your headphones are working properly. Use the example at the beginning to check the sound quality.

28) Concentration:

  • Tip 28: Concentration is crucial. Practice building your concentration before the test to avoid missing answers.

These tips cover various aspects of the IELTS listening test, providing a comprehensive guide for effective preparation and test-taking strategies.
Liz, I. (2015). IELTS Listening Tips & Essential Information. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8qmJeBxk4Q [Accessed 25 Apr. 2021].
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