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If you’re planning to live, work or study in Australia, your ability to understand spoken English is very important. Whether you’re in public, in the workplace or in the classroom, you’ll regularly hear spoken instructions or announcements. Listening is one of the four categories that you will be tested on during the IELTS:

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About the IELTS Listening test

The IELTS listening test is designed to test your ability to both hear and understand the English language. This part of the test takes 30 minutes and is the same for both the General Training and Academic IELTS tests. 

The test is made up of four parts. During each part, you'll be asked to listen to an audio recording and then answer 10 questions based on that recording. There are four audio recordings and 40 questions in total. The types of questions you may be asked include:

  • Multiple choice

  • Matching

  • Plan, map or diagram labelling

  • Form, note, table, flow chart or summary

  • Sentence completion

  • Short answer 

IELTS Listening free practice questions

No secrets to how your IELTS test is marked

At IELTS, we want to help boost you to the next level. That’s why we share with you how we test, how we mark your work, and what is important. There are no secrets to how the Listening test is marked, everything is transparent.

Each correct answer on the listening test equals one mark. Your examiner will add up all the marks you received to determine your ‘raw’ score, which your Listening band score is calculated from. Your listening band score is used to calculate your overall IELTS band score. 

You'll not receive any marks for a blank answer on the listening test, so it’s important to try to answer every question. 

What score do I need to achieve on the IELTS listening test?

The minimum band score you need to achieve for the IELTS listening test is different for everyone. Your employer, university and visa may all have different IELTS band score requirements. If you’re planning to permanently move to Australia, you will usually need a band score of 6.0 in each of the four IELTS categories.

If you’re unsure what IELTS listening band score you need, check your visa, university or job application requirements.

IELTS Listening band scores explained

Tip 1: Understand the test format

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Having a good understanding of how the listening test works can help you stay calm and create a plan. The basic structure of the test is:

  • You are given a moment to see the questions for the first audio recording

  • The first audio recording plays (only once)

  • You answer the questions as the audio plays

  • You are given a moment to check your answers

This process repeats for the next three audio recordings.

Tip 2: Pay attention to keywords

Before each audio recording is played, you will be able to view the questions for that recording. Use this time to think about which words might be important, these are called keywords.

When the recording plays, listen for these keywords (or synonyms!). This can help you answer the questions quickly.

Tip 3: Increase your vocabulary

By developing a rich vocabulary, you are more likely to identify keyword synonyms on the IELTS listening test. 

A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same (or almost the same) meaning as a different word. For example:

Shut and close are different words, but they can both be used in the same sentence.

  • “I will shut the door when I leave”

  • “I will close the door when I leave”

Spend some time looking up synonyms for words you use often, and practice saying the same sentence in as many different ways as possible.

Tip 4: Take a practice test

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IELTS Prepare is a great resource for free and premium study materials including Listening practice tests. Taking a practice test helps you understand how the test will work, and what type of questions you may be asked. A practice test can also help you identify any weaknesses to work on before your official test day.

Tip 5: Stay calm

Because each audio recording is only played once during the Listening test, it’s important not to panic if you miss an answer. 

Think about your keywords while you listen to the recording, and if you realise that you’ve missed an answer, stay calm! Keep answering the questions as the audio plays, and fill in the missed answer with your best guess when the recording is finished. It’s better to miss only one answer than to panic and miss many.

Tip 6: Listen to more English language content

The more English language content you can include in your day-to-day life, the better your listening skills will become. Look for content featuring native English speakers and listen to it while you’re driving, working or even grocery shopping.

You could try:

  • Downloading an exciting audiobook

  • Listening to a podcast on a topic that interests you

  • Watching your favourite TV show in English (without subtitles if you can!)

Tip 7: Make studying fun

Find activities where you can practise listening and have a good time!

Consider inviting some friends to a local trivia night! While you enjoy a fun night out, you’ll also get to practise:

  • Listening to the trivia master and the other teams

  • Discussing and agreeing on trivia answers

  • Hearing about a wide range of topics

Tip 8: Speak English whenever you can

Having a conversation in English is a great way to practise listening. Try to speak to as many native English speakers as you can:

  • Strike up a conversation with the grocery store clerk

  • Pay a bill at the post office instead of paying online

  • Speak to a course advisor at a university you’re interested in attending

During your conversations, take note of any words you didn’t understand so that you can look them up later.

Tip 9: Have a backup plan

Having a backup plan can make you feel more confident when you walk into a test. The IELTS One Skill Retake allows you to retake one section of the IELTS test if you don’t achieve the score you wanted. If you’d like the extra peace of mind this program can offer, learn more about the IELTS One Skill Retake today. 

Tip 10: Get a study buddy

Do you have a friend who is also preparing for the IELTS? See if they’d like to create a study group! Focus on your active listening skills by:

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Whether you need to find out who accepts IELTS, or you want to know how to access free official IELTS practice material, we're here for you. Contact us if you have any questions about your booking, or need support getting ready for your test. 

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