How to Prepare for IELTS Listening Test?

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IELTS Listening Test

Before we start our preparations for IELTS Test it is important to understand that there are two types of test offered – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.The Listening and Speaking Test are same for all test takers but the Reading and Writing test are different based on the choice you made for Academic or General Training category.

Let us now start understanding the test format and how IELTS Listening test assesses the listening skills and ability to interpret.

Listening Test – Test Format

The central aim of the IELTS Listening Test is to evaluate your capacity to comprehend essential concepts and specific factual details, interpret speakers’ opinions and attitudes, and demonstrate your proficiency in tracking the progression of ideas.

IELTS Listening Test Description:

During the IELTS Listening Test, the audio recordings are played only once and encompass a variety of accents, encompassing British, Australian, New Zealand, American, and Canadian accents.

  • Total Sections: 4
  • No. of Questions: 40 ( 10 question/section)
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Types of Questions: Multiple Choice Questions, Matching, Diagram Labeling, Flow chart, Sentence/Summary Completion, Table/Flow Chart
  • Marks: 1 mark each per question

NOTE – Examinees are required to write their responses on the question paper while listening and are granted 10 minutes after the test’s conclusion to transcribe their answers onto an answer sheet. It’s important for candidates to exercise caution while transferring answers to the answer sheet, as errors in spelling and grammar can incur penalties. The listening test comprises four sections, each containing ten questions. The structure of the questions ensures that the answers follow the sequence in which they are presented in the audio.

IELTS Listening Test – Sections

  • Section 1: This section deal with situations set in everyday social contexts. Typically this section will have a conversation between two speakers (Example: Conversation about a college Trip),
  • Section 2: This section also deal with situations set in everyday social contexts. In general there can be a monologue (Example: Speech by a Professional for Fund Raiser).
  • Section 3: This sections deal with situations set in educational and training contexts. Typically, there can be a conversation between two main speakers (Example, Discussion of university professor over inclusion of course on Social Responsibilities)
  • Section 4: This sections also deal with situations set in educational and training contexts. In general, there can be a monologue on an academic subject.

Listening Test – Types of Questions

Type 1 – Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple choice questions serve as a comprehensive tool for evaluating a diverse range of skills. In this type of questioning, individuals undergoing the test must possess a thorough comprehension of specific or central aspects of the listening material. Typically, the query is accompanied by three potential responses or the initiation of a sentence followed by three alternative options to conclude it. The candidate’s task is to select the appropriate answer among the choices A, B, or C. On occasion, participants may encounter an extended list of potential answers and be instructed to choose more than one. It is advisable for candidates to meticulously peruse the question to ascertain the number of required answers.

Type 2 – Matching

Test takers are tasked with correlating a numbered series of items from the audio with a designated set of choices on the question paper, where the array of choices can serve as a certain criterion. The central aim of this question format is to evaluate the overall comprehension of the examinee and their capacity to track a discourse on commonplace subjects. Furthermore, these types of queries gauge the skill to recognize relationships and associations between facts presented in the listening material.

Type 3 – Plan, Map, Diagram Labelling

This category of questions is employed to evaluate the test taker’s capacity and comprehension in connection with either a verbal depiction or a visual illustration. Such questions may also center on appraising the examinee’s skill in deciphering language that conveys spatial connections and directions (such as “straight on” or “through the far door”).

Type 4 – Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion

In these type of questions the candidates are required to fill the gaps or give an outline of part or of all of the listening text. The outline primarily focuses on the key ideas in the text.

  • Form:
    • Typically used to record factual details such as names
  • Notes:
    • In general it is used to summarize any type of information using the layout to show how different items relate to one another
  • Table:
    • It is used as a way to summarize information relating to clear categories – such as Place/Score/time/price
  • Flow-chart:
    • Ideally it is used to decipher a process which has clear stages, with the direction of the process shown by arrows.

This could encompass tasks like choosing answers from a provided list of options or identifying missing words from the recording, adhering to the specified word limit outlined in the instructions. It’s important to note that altering the words from the recording is not necessary. It’s advisable for test takers to meticulously adhere to instructions, particularly if a word limit is stipulated. It’s worth noting that exceeding the prescribed word count may lead to penalties, so test takers should meticulously verify the word limit for each task. These questions aim to gauge the listener’s capacity to accurately capture and interpret this specific type of inquiry.

Type 5 – Sentence Completion

These sentence completion questions aim to assess one’s aptitude for identifying crucial details in the audio and subsequently comprehending and deciphering functional connections like cause and effect. In this question format, individuals need to peruse a series of sentences that encapsulate fundamental information gleaned from the listening test. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a prescribed word limit for responding to these queries, and deviating from the instructions can lead to penalties.

Type 6 – Short answers

Within these question types, examinees must read a provided question and construct a brief response using details extracted from the listening text. It’s crucial to bear in mind that failing to adhere to the specified word limits in the questions may result in penalties.

Note – Contracted words will not be tested AND Hyphenated words count as single words.

Listening Test – Marking Scheme

Certified markers assess the listening test, undergoing regular supervision to ensure consistency and precision. Following this evaluation, all answer sheets proceed to Cambridge Assessment English for thorough analysis. Once the test scripts have been scored, a Band Score conversion table is generated specifically for the Listening test, facilitating the transformation of scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. These scores are then reported using both whole bands and half bands. For every correct response in the 40-item test, one mark is granted. It’s essential to exercise caution while recording answers on the answer sheet, as subpar spelling and grammar could lead to penalties.

Tips and Tricks for IELTS Listening Test

We will now discuss some of the tips for test taker to keep in mind before appearing for the exam –

  • Firstly the candidate must be well acquainted with the test format and structure, since it would not be wise to go directly without preparation.
  • Secondly you must look for valid samples and practice test in order to have a exposure to the real-time exam paper.
  • Most importantly you should test yourself under timed condition. Since it all depends on answering correctly in a given frame of time.
  • Also test takers are suggested to review answers and compare them with model answers. This is to identify weak areas and work upon them to get a hold of the topics.
General Listening Test Advice

Since you will be given time to read through the questions before you listen. So keep the important points beforehand since it is a You Only Listen Once situation with no rewind button.

  • If the audio is unclear, promptly notify a staff member and refrain from waiting for assistance.
  • It’s crucial to adhere to instructions meticulously, regardless of your familiarity with the content.
  • Strive to actively listen and retain specific information.
  • Prepare to focus on speakers that demand your concentration for answering questions.
  • If you encounter an unfamiliar concept or lack an answer, swiftly move on to the next question to avoid wasting time.
  • Maintain caution with spelling and grammar, as errors may result in penalties.
  • Practice reading, writing, and listening simultaneously to enhance multitasking skills.
  • Pay meticulous attention to the word limit, following instructions judiciously. For instance, a number like “100000569” is counted as one word, whereas a hyphenated term like “part-time” is treated as a single word. However, a compound phrase like “tennis shoes” is considered two words.
  • Make sure to attempt all questions, as there are no negative marks for incorrect answers.
  • Before submission, review your answers.
  • Familiarize yourself with transferring answers onto the answer sheet using a pencil through practice.