20 Tips to Help You Pass the IELTS Listening Test: An Ultimate Guide

IELTS Listening Test Format

The Academic and General Training versions of the IELTS listening test consist of the same format. It includes 40 questions (10 per section) and takes 30 minutes to complete. 

After the test, you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers from the answer sheet to the question sheet. 

The test consists of four sections, each more difficult than the last. Part one is the easiest, and part four is the hardest. Every part has a different theme or focus. 

In part one (formerly section one), you will hear a conversation between two individuals making an appointment or scheduling a reservation of some kind (e.g. making a hotel reservation or hiring an automobile). The questions are normally gap-fill questions where you must listen to the information and fill in a form or sentence. 

In part two, you will hear someone talking about a non-academic subject (e.g. television or radio presenters).

The recordings in Part 3 are always more than one person talking about something (e.g. an academic paper or assignment).

In Part 4, a professor or lecturer gives an academic lecture that goes on for some time.

You will be given a short period of time (about 30 seconds) between each section in the test. You should use this time to look for the questions that will be asked where you can see the recording only once.

With so many types of questions, you should familiarize yourself with them all. To take the test, you might have to answer the following questions

  • Completing a form
  • Noting a table or graph
  • Labeling a diagram or map
  • Completing a sentence
  • Selecting a correct response
  • Matching

IELTS Listening Test Strategies

1. Practice Listening to Monologues

When you’re studying to listen to a monologue, you must practice listening to a person speak uninterruptedly. Since students often feel overwhelmed when listening to monologues, it can be difficult to listen to more than one individual speaking at the same time.  This difficulty can be attributed to the fact that it is challenging to tune in to what is being said when there are various accents and speaking styles. 

2. Good Spelling

It is essential to maintain good spelling, as careless errors can be costly.  To avoid careless errors, I recommend keeping a notebook of challenging words to spell. Even native English speakers have trouble with some words, so the only recourse is practicing and learning. Even so, American and British spelling are permitted in the listening test.

3. Use Breaks Wisely

The breaks between sections 1, 2, and 3 will be around 30 to 40 seconds long. You should not check your answers in the middle of sections 1, 2, and 3. Look at the next question and predict what will come next. If you are able to guess what the answer is, you should look at the question and try to understand the context of the question. 

For example, if the answer includes a ‘$,’ you’ll probably hear a specific number. Furthermore, the answer will likely be a noun, verb, or another type of word. 

4. Be careful while Transferring Answers

At the end of the test, you will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Be careful with spelling and grammatical correctness as you do this. For example, if the question was ‘The man wanted to buy a ______ car,’ the answer would probably be a verb followed by an adjective.

Your answer MUST fit the sentence in a grammatical context.

5. Uppercase Letters

There are a number of things to be aware of when using uppercase letters. If your word is a person’s name or a location, it has to include an uppercase letter to be accurate. 

6. Word Count

There are instructions that must be followed precisely, especially when it comes to word count. You can’t write more than three words if the question says ‘no more than three words’. If your answer is four words, it will be incorrect. 

7. Accents

The international nature of English is reflected in a variety of accents. These accents might include those from the US, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, or Australia, as well as UK regional accents.

Therefore, to get accustomed to these different accents, you should listen to a range of news sources. You should, therefore, try to get used to all of these different accents. Instead of just listening to the BBC News, you could try listening to the news, or audio podcasts like 6 Minute English for that matter, from a range of different countries.

8. Practice Tests

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the different types of test questions and study IELTS practice tests. When you practice these tests, you should simulate an exam environment, but it is crucial to discover why you missed certain questions. You should listen repeatedly until you understand why you missed the question. Don’t just look at the answers; look for the reason why you missed the question. The reason why you missed the question is crucial. 

The best way to practice is on a platform like Kandor, which provides an instant score and detailed feedback for you to know and understand.

9. Listen to as much English as possible

You should also practice previous IELTS tests as well as everything else you can listen to in English. In general, those who do the finest on the listening test are those who have listened to the most English.

10. Perfect Score in Easy Sections

There are several parts to the IELTS listening test, and it’s important to concentrate on getting the simple queries right before worrying about the more challenging ones. You must get a perfect score on the first segment to do well on the IELTS listening test. Make sure you can accomplish this consistently in the first phase before worrying about the other phases, particularly the fourth.

11. Don’t be Fooled

Don’t be fooled by the IELTS listening test. The correct response may be offered initially, and then, later in the recording, the correct answer may be switched with something else. For example, the query may be, ‘The man wants a ______ car.’ 

At the outset, he might state that he wants a ‘big family car,’ but then he might change his mind and state that he wants a ‘small sports car.’ If you wrote down the first option, you would be incorrect.

12. Capture Quickly

You have to get used to listening to something just once. Many teachers allow their students to listen to a recording three or four times. Of course, you can listen again and again as you look for mistakes in your practice tests, but when taking the test itself, you should listen only once. 

13. Combination of Tests

It’s not just a listening test; it’s a combination of reading, writing, vocabulary, and spelling tests. Therefore, you should practice all these skills under exam conditions to be fully prepared.

14. Write Answers as you go

Here are some things to remember when writing your answers on the test paper. Many students don’t do this and instead remember all the answers and then fill in the answer sheet from memory. Using your memory to fill in answers on the answer sheet is unnecessary, so keep it simple and write down your answers as you go

15. Messy Handwriting

If you have messy handwriting, it is advised that you write your answers with all capital letters on the listening test.

16. Bring an Eraser

It’s very important to bring an eraser with you to the exam center. You will be writing in pencil, so be sure to bring an eraser to erase any mistakes or changes to your answers. 

17. Use Shorthand

You can practice your shorthand because it is a form of writing in which a word is shortened and saves time.

For example, you may write ‘approx.’ for ‘approximately’ or ‘Eng.’ for ‘English.’ 

You will save time if you practice your shorthand, as if you are busy writing a long word, you may miss an answer.

18. Concentrate

Concentration is critical in the listening section. You can lose focus, you are not alone, and it is normal. To maintain your focus, practice active listening. 

It will be the same in the IELTS listening test, so practice active listening while you are studying to get familiar with it. To keep your attention, set yourself little tasks and take real action while you are listening.

19. Don’t leave questions unanswered

Leaving no blank answers is a very basic idea, yet many students slip up on it. You should always hazard a guess, even if it’s incorrect, as there is no negative marking.

20. Grasp the Context

Before each section, you’ll learn about the speaker and what they’ll discuss. You won’t be tested on this, but it will assist you in answering the subsequent questions if you comprehend the context.


With the right approach and a great amount of practice, you will be able to tackle all four sections of the IELTS Listening Test successfully and move towards a Band 9 Score.

The last thing that’s very important is Practice. And the best place to practice for the IELTS Listening Test is at the Kandor website or the Kandor app.

You can also read more blog posts and keep learning about IELTS at our Kandor Academy.

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