Introducing the IELTS Prepare by IDP : 10-part video podcast series.


Do you often find yourself asking, "What did she just say?" or feeling the sinking realisation that you've completely missed an important part of a conversation?

If this sounds all too familiar, and if you want to improve your score on the IELTS Listening test, then this article will help you explore some effective strategies that can help you develop your Listening skills.

By following these tips, you can enhance your comprehension, vocabulary, and confidence and achieve success on the IELTS Listening test.

Book your IELTS test

listening banner 3

Eliminate the unexpected: Familiarise yourself with the test

Prepare yourself for no surprises by familiarising yourself with the structure and content of the IELTS Listening test.

It's important to note that all IELTS Listening tests follow the same format, regardless of whether you're taking the IELTS Academic or General Training test.

The Listening test lasts for thirty minutes and has four parts. You will listen to 4 recordings in your Listening test and need to answer 40 questions based on these recordings.

  • The first two recordings deal with situations you might experience in an everyday context.

  • The last two recordings, however, focus on situations that might occur in an education or training context.

In recordings 1 and 3 you will hear a conversation between two or more speakers, however in recordings 2 and 4 you will hear a monologue.

By understanding the structure and content of each section, you can better prepare yourself for success in the IELTS Listening test.

IELTS Sections - Listening

One shot, one opportunity because you only listen once

In IELTS Listening test, it's all about staying focused, as you're granted only a single chance to listen to the recordings.

Fear not, here are the essential tips to excel with the Listening test:

  • Practice the single Listening experience:
    During practice tests, condition yourself to listen only once. Adapt to the expectation and sharpen your focus accordingly.

  • Identify and improve weaknesses:
    Figure out your Listening weaknesses and dedicate time to improve those specific areas. Effective practice and targeted exercises can make a significant difference. For example, a particular accent that you don’t know.

  • Diversify Listening scenarios:
    Engage in practice sessions in various types of Listening situations, including lectures, conversations, informal chats, and more. This breadth of exposure will help you adapt and perform well across different contexts.

IELTS Listening practice test

Follow your interests

Listen to what you love! When you practice, pick topics that interest you. If you're a fan of professional tennis, listen to podcasts about it. If Roman history fascinates you, find stories about it to listen to. It's a known fact that we pay better attention to things we enjoy.

If you want to stay motivated and make the most of your Listening practice, give this approach a try. Who knows, you might even have fun while doing it!

Top 10 podcasts to help you improve your English

Power of audio scripts

When it comes to selecting or searching for practice tests, consider opting for those accompanied by audio scripts (sometimes called closed captions or transcriptions). Audio scripts provide the written rendition of the spoken words you hear, allowing for a range of valuable activities.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of audio scripts:

  • Accuracy check: Initially, take notes without referring to the script. Then, compare your notes to the actual script. Assess the accuracy of your understanding, spelling, and any potential misconceptions.

  • Read aloud: Engage in reading-aloud exercises using the script as a reference. Afterward, listen to the audio. Evaluate the accuracy of your pronunciation and compare your rendition to that of the speakers.

  • Listen and read along: Follow the text while simultaneously Listening to the audio. This practice establishes strong connections between the spoken and written forms, aiding in pronunciation improvement and enhancing comprehension of keywords. Observe how crucial terms are pronounced more distinctly and with greater emphasis.

Game of synonyms

Synonyms are words or phrases that have similar or the same meaning. You likely know that synonyms are really important in all parts of the exam. In the speaking and writing sections, you need to demonstrate your ability to use different words with similar meanings.

In the reading and Listening sections, many of the questions include words that mean the same as other words. For instance:

Listening text: "The Duchess, who happens to be the sole daughter of the King..."

Listening test question:
  • Who is referred to as the princess?

    • The Duchess

    • The Duke

    • Not given

Learn about the the difference between synonyms and antonyms

Article - IELTS Listening 6.0 - Paragraph 6 - IMG 6 - Vietnam

Enhance your Listening through real-life interactions

When you take the IELTS, it measures how much you know and how skilled you are in using English. One of the most effective ways to become fluent and perform well on the test is by using English in real-life situations. So, the next opportunity you get, try to have a chat, send a text, make a call, write an email, and engage in discussions.

By actively using English in real-life interactions, you'll not only develop a deeper understanding of the language but also enhance your Listening skills in a meaningful way.

Double-check for accuracy as precision matters!

Even the tiniest errors can have a significant impact. A handful of minor mistakes can make all the difference between scoring a 5.5 and a 6 on the IELTS.

Let's get familiar with a few examples to highlight how small inaccuracies can make you lose your marks:

Test taker's answer

Correct answer

Type of mistake



The answer was singular instead of plural



No unit was specified



Spelling mistake

He went to the restaurant


The answer sheet specified "one word"

Taking the time to thoroughly review your responses is crucial. Ensure that your answers align with the requirements, whether it's using the appropriate grammatical form, including relevant units, or paying attention to accurate spelling. By being precise, you can avoid having unnecessary point deductions.

Article - IELTS Listening Part 1 - Paragraph 3 - IMG 5 - Vietnam

We hope that these tips and advice help you succeed in your listening test!

If you need more preparation, you can access our practice materials and get prepared with our wide range of practice tests.

Want to practice and improve your English skills? Download the IELTS by IDP App to get access to IELTS preparation materials, including our very own IELTS Prepare by IDP vodcast. This 10-episode video podcast series is here to guide you through every step of your IELTS preparation journey.

Feeling ready? Find a test centre near you and book your IELTS test today!

Book your IELTS test

About this Article

Published on July 01, 2024

About this Author

IDP IELTS logo - Global
IDP IELTS Australasia