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IELTS Listening Test

On this page, you will learn about the IELTS Listening Test and how to best prepare for achieving a high score.

IELTS Listening
man listening with headphones

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IELTS Listening Test Format

In IELTS Listening Test, you will hear 4 different recordings and you will have to answer questions on what you hear. There are 40 questions in total and you will be given 40 minutes to complete the test.

Note! IELTS Listening Test is the same for both the Academic and General Training module.

IELTS Listening

Duration: 40 minutes

  • 40 questions – you will have to write your answers as you listen
  • 4 recordings – conversations and monologues set in an everyday social context, an educational or training context and on an academic subject
  • IELTS Listening Test takes 30 minutes after which you will be given extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. So, it takes 40 minutes in total.

If you want to see a more detailed overview of the IELTS Test Format, visit the British Council website.

How is IELTS Listening Test scored?

You are awarded 1 point for each correct answer. After your listening test has been marked, it will be then converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. The final score is reported as a band or half a band (e.g. 6.0 or 6.5). See the following table:

Band ScoreCorrect Answers

How to prepare for IELTS Listening Test?

If you desire a high band score, then reading our IELTS Listening Tips & Advice might be helpful!

But first and foremost, let's focus on the essential steps we recommend you take in order to get started with IELTS listening:

  1. Obtain good practice materials
    • For instance, get yourself a book of the Cambridge IELTS series that usually has 4 practice tests in a book
    • Flick through the book and see what's there. These books will give you a very good idea of how the real exam looks like
    • Or why not take a free IELTS Listening test (provided by that we have prepared for you
  2. Use an answer sheet
  3. Make yourself familiar with the IELTS listening test format
    • There are 4 recordings
    • 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes transfer time)
    • Sections get increasingly difficult
  4. Take the first practice test
    • Start practice with the first test without limiting your time to 30 minutes
    • Feel free to pause or rewind back and forth
    • Check your answers and determine your weak spots
  5. Practice under exam conditions – at least 5 times!
    • Allow only 30 minutes to complete the practice test
    • Analyse your answers and make sure you understand your mistakes
    • Take at least 5 IELTS Listening practice tests to feel confident
    • Practice listening to the whole test in a row, not separate sections

IELTS Listening Test Preparation Advice & Tips

Choose a good study book

As said before, obtain a good practice book. For example, the Cambridge IELTS series is one of the best there is available. These books give you an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with IELTS and practise exam techniques using real-to-life test material written by the test makers.

IELTS Listening
woman listening with headset

Start practicing

Once you have decided what study book suits best for you, it's time to practice, practice and again practice under exam conditions.

Why is that so? Because it really makes perfect, or let's say, as close to perfect as possible. If you want to achieve a high score in the IELTS listening test, a lot of practice is the key to success.

Although some people may argue that extensive research about the question types, other people's experiences and blog posts of oh so many tutors are a must before practice, this is not what you should waste your time on.

girl laying on floor reading a book

You can drown in information once you start to google the IELTS listening test and you do not want to do that, especially when you have limited time to prepare for the exam. Besides, the huge amount of information is often controversial as well.

Therefore, just start with IELTS practice tests without looking any further!

Determine your weak spots

We advise you to take several tests and filter out what you personally need to practice more to ace the IELTS listening part. There is no one-size-fits-all!

Find out your weak areas and learn how to strengthen them.

As the first two recordings are simpler, you may need to concentrate mostly on the last two. However, something that could be a stumbling block for many students is not getting the right addresses and family names which are spelt letter by letter.

scrabble board game

For example, hearing letters A, E and I can often be confusing and your brain may sometimes mix some letters up, especially when you put yourself under exam conditions. Therefore, make sure you practice this quite a lot in order to feel confident enough so you wouldn't lose any valuable points with something so easy to learn by practice.

Develop your skills and techniques to be successful

Even though you may feel tempted to skip the first two parts of the listening test, we suggest that you should disregard that idea and practice completing a full listening test instead. It is important to practice all different types of exercises and be well prepared.

So, we highly recommend that you should not practice only section by section, but rather the whole listening test at once.

By doing this, you will learn how to use every pause between different sections so you can efficiently use every second available in order to maximise your score. This window of time is of high value and using it can help you improve your listening score.

You can develop your skills and right listening techniques only by practice!

By practice – and by this, we mean taking about 10 listening tests – you will develop techniques to succeed every time. Moreover, you will know when it is the best time to peek questions of the next section or what technique to use with different question types. Practice is necessary to develop these skills.

It is equally important to analyse your answers as well. Make sure you understand and learn from your mistakes. In the Cambridge IELTS book series, as recommended before, you will also find the tapescripts.

So, when you do not find out where you went wrong by listening to a specific part of the test again, you can then use the tapescripts. But for the learning process, try to relisten first and then read the tapescript.


  1. Concentrate

    If you lose your focus, you will miss answers as well. In case you did miss an answer, then don't panic and just move on to the next question. You need to waste no time.

  2. Check the instructions

    Check the instructions to see how many words you can have for your answer, if you can have a number or numbers, or whether you need to write a letter or a word. Learn what these instructions exactly mean.

  3. Check your spelling

    Check your spelling before writing your answer on the answer sheet. If your answer is spelt wrong, you will get zero points for it. Don't worry about spelling while listening. You will have 10 minutes of transfer time, so check your spelling when you transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

  4. No blank boxes

    Don't leave blanks! You will not get minus points for wrong answers. Therefore, try your luck and maybe your guess is right!

  5. Practice completing a full listening test

    You must practice completing a full listening test and you should do this a number of times. Only then you will develop the skills and techniques that help you achieve a high score.

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Whether you have any questions, want to leave feedback or discuss cooperation possibilities, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help and will answer as soon as possible. In the meantime, discover our site and let it help you smooth your IELTS journey and make your studies more efficient.

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