Listening FAQ


Hey there.

In this lesson I want to give you some important (and sometimes surprising!) information about the IELTS Listening Test.

After the FAQ, I’ll give you the six most important pieces of IELTS Listening advice from real examiners. You can use this information to improve your band score today!


IELTS Listening Test – Important Information FAQ:

IELTS Listening band score calculator


Understanding the Sections on the Listening Test:

The IELTS Listening test is divided into 4 sections, and they get more difficult as you go. Each one has 10 questions.

Let’s look at the sections in detail:


6 Tips to Improve your Listening Score:


To improve your band score on the IELTS listening test, you need a lot of practice. The lessons on this site can help you with that.

But, if you’re just looking for some quick tips and strategies you can apply right now to improve your score, here are the most important ones:

  • TIP #1: Focus is everything. 30 minutes might not sound like a long time, but most people lose their focus at least once or twice during the test, which results in lost answers and lost marks.

    • Luckily, this is something you can practice. Every time you do a practice test, listen to a podcast or the radio (or anything!), do it without distractions. Put away your phone, internet, or anything else that might grab your attention; challenge yourself to stay focused for 5 full minutes, then 10, then 15… the more you practice this, the better you will get at staying focused for the full 30 minutes.
    • Also, remember that you don’t need to understand everything on the IELTS listening test. There is a lot of added information that isn’t related to the questions. Keep yourself focused on the answers you need.
  • TIP #2: Sit up straight. This will improve your concentration.
  • TIP #3: Don’t get frustrated if you miss an answer. If the audio moves on to a new topic or you hear a word from the next question while you’re still waiting for a previous one, just give it your best guess and move on.
    • Sometimes answers come quickly, right after the other. Be ready for that. But, if you do miss an answer… that’s okay. The best thing you can do is to quickly forget about it and focus on the next question.
  • TIP #4: On the test, you are given a 30 second break at the end of each section. The audio will say “That is the end of Section (#). You now have half a minute to check your answers.Don’t check your answers during this time. Instead, use this extra time to read through the questions in the next section!
  • TIP #5: Don’t leave any answers blank! You don’t lose marks for guessing, so you might as well try it.
  • TIP #6: Don’t worry about your spelling until the end. At the end of the IELTS Listening, you are given an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers. While you are writing the test, you don’t want to waste time spelling words out or worrying about this, so just write short forms of words instead.
    • Remember, your examiner will not look at your exam paper, so it doesn’t matter what you write there. Don’t waste time worrying about spelling until the extra 10 minutes at the end.
    • Also, when you are copying your answers to the answer sheet and thinking about spelling, remember that the grammar of the question can help you! Answers on the listening test will always be grammatically incorrect. For example: “Two 16. _______” the answer to question 16 will definitely be plural!
    • And finally, remember to write clearly on your answer sheet! If the examiner can’t read it, it will be marked incorrect! Print (don't handwrite) in big letters to make sure your examiner can read it clearly.

There you go.

Now you know what to expect on the IELTS Listening Test, you know about all four sections, and you have some quick tips that can increase your band score on your next practice test. Why not try them right now?

The next step, for those who want to get more serious, is to go a little deeper into IELTS strategy.

If you want more strategy specifically for the IELTS Listening Test, check out the following posts:


Good luck!