IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening exam is one of the sections that you will be tested on, and it is the same test for both the academic and general exams.

Listening Exam Structure

The listening exam lasts for 30 minutes and consists of four recorded conversations. There are 40 questions in total. You only listen to the recording once. The type of questions can be:

  • Multiple choice
  • Complete the sentence
  • Matching
  • Short answers
  • Labelling

Section 1

The first section is quite informal and is usually someone making enquiries. The example given on the official site is someone making enquiries about insurance, someone asking for information about transport, and making reservations at a hotel. There are a lot of numbers, dates, addresses, names, and prices. It is really important that you practice numbers and spelling (see tips below).

Section 2

The second section is usually one speaker discussing a topic. This usually involves advice, directions, interviews, or just generally discussion a topic.

Section 3

Section three is usually quite formal and is a discussion between two or three people. This could be a discussion about a potential course, a book, the progress of a student or students.

Section 4

This is the hardest section as an academic topic is presented by a professor. The person talks about the topic and this could be on anything, for example: Superstitions, time, history, geography etc. [divider]

Listening Tips

Know numbers, dates, addresses, and the alphabet

Part one is the easiest section but a lot of mistakes can be made here. It is important to know the alphabet well and especially be able to know the difference between the vowel sounds.

Here they are: A, E, I, O, U [haiku url=”″ title=”IELTS Listening”]

Practice your numbers as they always come up. And also practice dates, and note the difference between the speaking and writing forms:

Speaking: the 14th of November.
Writing: 14th November.

Also, know the different endings for addresses: Road, Avenue, Close, Street, Drive, and Lane.

Use Your Time Wisely

  • Read the questions before you listen to know what information you are listening for.
  • Understand the question and what answer is needed.
  • Write as you listen as you might forget the answer.
  • Relax as much as possible and don’t get upset if you miss an answer, just move on.
  • Don’t miss any questions, check your answer sheet again.

Practice Tests

There are some really good listening practice exams around, here are the ones that we recommend.

IELTS Official Site

Full Listening Practice

British Council

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Exam English

Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Section 4

More British Council

Mock Exam 1 Mock Exam 2 Mock Exam 3

Canada Visa

Full Listening Test 1 Full Listening Test 2