IELTS Listening: Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes

The students tend to make more mistakes in the IELTS Listening test because recordings are played just once. The thought of not being able to re-listen to a recording might seem nerve-wracking, but if you keep in mind the following tips, you will ace your test.  

In the IELTS Listening test, recordings are played just once. But there is nothing to worry about because today we will look into the common mistakes and will also give you tips on how to prepare for your IELTS Listening.  

If you want to prepare for IELTS Listening, come over to DOSH Academy, the best IELTS Centre in Amritsar.   

Follow the Instructions and Understand the Questions 

The listening test contains 4 parts. Each part contains one or more sets of questions. Instructions for each part of the listening test are given to you before and after each recording. You will have some time to prepare for each set of questions.   

It is difficult to concentrate on what you hear while trying to read the questions. So, here are the things that you must keep in mind: 

  • Read the questions first before you listen to the recording.  
  • Check the type of answer you have to write (for e.g., a letter, an option from the box, etc.)  
  • Use a pencil to underline or circle key words in the instructions and questions. This will help you focus on listening only to what you should do to get the correct answer. 
  • Check your answers after the audio clip is played and use this time to read and prepare for the next part of the test. 

Understand the Information 

Sometimes it is difficult to know which information you should use to answer the questions. For some question types such as form-filling, you must listen to the audio carefully and then in particular information such as a name, time, date and other details.   

To understand the question, make sure you:  

  • Read the question carefully, so you know what you are listening for.  
  • Spend some time studying the information given on the paper and then listen to the instructions.   
  • Think of synonyms (words with similar meaning) for keyword recording that will use different words or phrases to the wording in your question booklet. 

Following the Description 

Part 2 of the Listening test involves tasks such as labelling a map, plan, or a diagram. You will need to figure out where the things are, what is something made up of, or how does things work. You may have a task where you will need to identify buildings, places, parts, stages of a process.  

The keywords may be like:  

  • Verbs, adjectives (Size, Shape, Quality)  
  • Directions (North, South, East, West)  
  • Prepositions of position or place (such as: in front of, next to, behind)  

If you are unsure of which side is left or right or where is North or South, a simple hint is to write L and R. After that, draw the compass points on your question booklet. This will make it easier for you to follow directions. 

Understanding a Conversation 

In Part 3 of IELTS Listening, you will have to follow a discussion with up to four speakers talking about a topic that relates study. You will be asked to listen to important facts, ideas, reasons, views, or opinions.   

It can be hard to identify who is talking and what they are talking about, so always:  

  • Read the text before you start listening to the recording. 
  • Note down information about the speakers, their relationships, and how it relates to the situation.   

This can help you anticipate what the speaker is going to talk about.  

Following a Lecture or a Talk 

Because the difficulty level increases as the Listening test progresses, Part 4 is often regarded as the most challenging. In this part, you will listen to a talk or a lecture on an academic subject such as a university lecture.   

Make sure you listen for signpost words that the speaker uses to indicate the different stages of the conversation. These signpost words, for example, can include the following:   

  • Firstly  
  • On the other hand  
  • Although  
  • Because 
  • To name a few  
  • Finally.   

These words tell what information is coming next. Also, it will help you to follow what the speaker is talking about. 

Also, make sure you pay attention to stress and intonation as the speaker will use it to highlight important information. 

Word Count 

The test instructions will tell you how many words are in the answer. For example, no more than ONE word, no more than TWO words and/or a number. 

Read the instructions carefully to avoid adding extra words and always remember:  

  • If the instruction says ONE word and you write ‘the bus’, the answer will be incorrect, even though ‘bus’ is the correct word.   
  • If you write a number in words and not numerals, that will be acceptable. For example, ‘three hundred and twenty will be ‘320’ and it counts as ‘a number’.   


Correct spellings are essential in the listening test.  If the spelling is incorrect, then the answer will be marked wrong. Make sure you spell commonly used words correctly, such as library, environment, street, avenue, professor, and so on.   

If you are planning to take the IELTS on paper, you will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the question booklet to the answer sheet. Remember to check the spelling and put the right answers in the right place.   

The key to success is to be prepared and to practice as much as you can. With preparation and practice, you will be able to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. 

If you are aspiring to take IELTS, then contact DOSH Academy experts, the best IELTS Centre in Amritsar.