A Simplified Guide to IELTS Listening

This guide will give you a complete overview of the listening section of IELTS. We hope this guide will take all your doubts away. Now, let us get going with the write-up.    

IELTS Listening Overview 

Content and Structure  

How Much Time Do I Get to Complete IELTS Listening Part? 

The listening section of the IELTS Academic is divided into 4 sections. Each section has 10 questions which means you will have 40 questions in total. You will get about 30 minutes to complete each section. In addition, you will get about 10 extra minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.  

Have a look at the map for more clarification: 


IELTS Listening Test Format? 

In the first recording, you will hear conversations between two speakers, like, a conversation about travel arrangements, inquiring about training courses, or opening a bank account.  

In the second recording, you will hear a monologue or only one person will be speaking, like a speech about community activities, someone giving information on topics such as guided museum tour, or information about the conference. 

The last two recordings will be related to education or training situations.  

In section 3, there will be a conversation between two main speakers like 2 university students in a discussion may be guided by a tutor etc. 

The fourth recording might be a monologue on an academic subject or a university-style lecture. This can be related to any academic topic as well. 

You will only get to listen to the recording once which means you will have to stay attentive to prepare for the exam. 

Listening Task Types 

There are 6 different tasks in the listening test. Every task is designed to test different skills. You should be able to recognize each task type immediately.  

It will save you enough time on the actual conditions of the test.  

The tasks include the following: 

  • Multiple choice questions; 
  • Matching (there are two different matching tasks); 
  • Plan, map, diagram labeling; 
  • Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion; 
  • Sentence completion; 
  • Short answer questions. 

The listening tasks are not so difficult but the challenge is that you will hear the recording just once. So, you will have to be really attentive and well prepared.  

IELTS Listening Preparation 

Preparing the day before the exam is definitely not the right approach. Listening needs understanding different accents so you need weeks or months to feed your ears with English. Do not rely only on IELTS tests for your audio input; explore TED talks, podcasts, documentaries and TV shows. The more you get used to listening to real English, the easier you will find it.  

IELTS audios are quite slower than in real-life speech, so just by practicing with natural speaking speed, you will eventually find IELTS audios easy to follow. How? 

Do Not Just Do IELTS Practice Tests 

It is quite easy to get caught in the trap of simply taking test after test. Remember that you also need to work on your listening skills like avoiding distractors, catching details, predicting, and identifying opinions. 

The best way to ace the listening test is by practicing it in the environment that fosters concentration. You can come over to DOSH Academy, the best IELTS Centre in Amritsar. Do this in our live classes where you will get to practice in the right test conditions and you will be guided with the right vocabulary and skill-building.  

Building Vocabulary is Important 


The better the vocabulary, the better the score will be. At the same time, you must know that the right words are used in the right place.    

Just looking at the word from time to time might not bring much change. Practicing the word using different sentences is necessary to get good marks. Research shows that you need to meet a new word at least 17 times before it is incorporated into your long-term memory. 

You can fast-track this using simple strategies such as: 

  • Vocabulary Book. Organize a book by topic. Add new words along with the meaning. Also write translation, if necessary, pronunciation, part of speech and create a simple, personal example sentence. Use the following:  
  • Flashcards – Yes, use physical flashcards. Write the word on one side and the meaning, on the other. Test yourself by looking at the word and saying the meaning or by looking at the meaning and saying the word.  
  • Apps or Websites. There are a lot of applications and websites which you can use to learn new words. Some apps are super fun to use and learn new things.    

With the above strategies, you will be able to memorize the words well.  

Completing the Listening Exam 

Transferring Answers to the Answer Sheet 

IELTS allows you to make notes and write on the question sheet. At the end of the 30 minutes, you will need extra time to transfer your answers from the question sheet to the answer sheet. 

Your listening scores are calculated on the basis of the answers you will write on the answer sheet. Make sure you complete your answer sheet before the time period ends.  

Also, be careful when you transfer your answers onto the answer sheet, do not mix up your questions and answers. Spelling and Grammar count and you would not want to lose points here. So do not be in a hurry. Stay careful. Double check the answers. If your handwriting is unclear, your answers will be marked wrong.  

Is There Any Negative-Marking? 

There is no negative marking. You will only get a zero for an incorrect or an incomplete answer. 

Pro Tips  

  • Do not multitask in MCQ’s  
  • Ensure that you are using correct grammar and spelling. 


Incorrect grammar will cost you marks. So, be careful with things like singular and plural nouns. There may be clues like an indefinite article in front of the blank space which would indicate that the answer is a singular noun. Also, be careful with tenses, subject and verb agreement. If the answer is second person singular, do not forget the ‘s’ in the end of the noun. 

Take care of the verb tenses. An incorrect form of noun form or verb will be considered an incorrect answer (even if the answer is right!). Capitalization of proper nouns is important. For instance, names of countries, cities or geographical locations, among other things must be capitalized. For instance, if you write “Australia” as “australia” your answer will be marked incorrect. 


Spelling in IELTS is important too. If you spell a word wrong, your answer will be marked wrong. Yes, even if just one letter is missing. So, if spelling becomes an issue, it means it is time to prepare more.   

Create Spelling Hacks 

For words that you get wrong, create a little story or a hack to help you remember the right spelling. Here are some of our favorites: 

Ensure that Your Handwriting is Legible 

You may feel rushed for time but clear and understandable handwriting is important.  

If the examiner is unable to read what you write, then it will be marked incorrect.  

Capital Letters in Answers 

If you have messy handwriting or if you are not sure which words you need to capitalize, it would be safer to pen down all the answers in CAPITAL letters.  

For any query regarding IELTS listening, speaking, reading and writing, contact the best IELTS Centre in Amritsar.