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IELTS Listening Test

The IELTS Listening Test is comprised of four recordings that are a mix of monologues and dialogues from a variety of voiced and native accents such as British English, Australian, American, and Canadian.

IELTS Listening Test Format

There are 4 sections:

  • Section 1: A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency).
  • Section 2: A monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference).
  • Section 3: A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project).
  • Section 4: A monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture).

Each section is heard once only.


Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time).


There are 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/ map/diagram labelling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, short-answer questions.

Skills Assessed

A wide range of listening skills are assessed, including:

  • understanding of main ideas
  • understanding of specific factual information
  • recognising opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
  • following the development of an argument.


Each correct answer receives 1 mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands

IELTS Listening Tips

· Predict Your Answers
Read before you listen — Familiarize yourself with the questions and try predicting their answers. Check that what you write makes sense in the context.

· Write down exactly what you hear
During your IELTS Listening section, always remember — Accuracy is the Key!

· Ace the matching exercise
Follow the golden rule — Before you listen to the recording, thoroughly read the numbered and the lettered lists.

· Sequence
Always follow the recording. The questions on the test and the recording are sequenced in a similar fashion. If you are lost, simply move on to the next question.

· Follow the Instructions
Take the Instructions Seriously — Always read the instructions carefully. This helps you stay within the word limit and lowers your chances of answering incorrectly.

Additional IELTS Listening Tips

· Each recording in the Listening test is heard once only.

· You will be given time to read through the questions before you listen.

· As you listen, write your answers on the question paper. At the end of the test, you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. It is essential that you transfer your answers to the answer sheet as nothing you write on the question paper will be marked.

· You must write your answers in pencil.

· An example of a completed Listening answer sheet is given on the next page.

· ‘Completion’ question types (e.g. note completion):

  • – Pay attention to the word limit. For example, if you are asked to complete a sentence using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS, and the correct answer is ‘leather coat’, the answer ‘coat made of leather’ would be incorrect.
  • – Transfer only the missing word(s) to the answer sheet. For example, if you have to complete the note ‘in the …’, and the correct answer is ‘morning’, the answer ‘in the morning’ would be incorrect.
  • – You will hear the word(s) you need to use in the recording. You will not need to change the form of the word(s) you hear.
  • – Pay attention to spelling and grammar: you will lose marks for mistakes.
  • – You may write your answers in lower case or in capitals

IELTS Listening FAQs

Do I lose a point for wrong answer?
No, you do not. Therefore, never leave an answer blank. Just guess!

Am I allowed to write on the listening question paper?
Yes, you can. You may underline, make notes, write anywhere on the question paper. Just make sure to transfer all the answers to the answer sheet.

Are spellings important?
Yes, highly important. If you spell a word incorrectly, you will lose a point.

Can I use abbreviations/acronyms?
Do not use acronyms/abbreviations on your test. They are not accepted, and you will lose points.

Is there a word limit?
Yes, there is always a word limit on questions. Ensure that you go through the questions carefully and follow the instructions well.

Is the duration of listening test for IELTS on Computer different?
Yes, it is different. For IELTS on Computer, you will be given 30 minutes with an extra of 2 minutes to review the answers. No extra 10 minutes are given to transfer the answers to the screen.

Can I go to the washroom during the listening test?
No, you are not allowed to go to the washroom during the listening test. Read more about our washroom policy here.

Free IELTS Listening Practice Test

The four parts of the IELTS Listening test are presented over four separate webpages. The duration of the listening test is 30 minutes, and you will be given an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Access free IELTS listening practice test today!