Listening Section of IELTS

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In the Listening section of the IELTS, you will listen to the recorded texts, monologues and conversations and then you have to write your answers to the given questions. Questions in this section include which test your ability to understand the attitudes and opinions of speakers, ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information hidden in it, ability to understand the purpose of a statement and the ability to follow the development of ideas. 

The listening module in the IELTS  includes four different sections. Each section can be heard only one time. There are a total of 40 questions, with 10 questions in each subsection. The listening part takes 30 minutes, but then you will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. 


40 minutes

Number of Questions


Total Sub-Sections



Subsections in the listening section of IELTS

Section 1: Conversation about everyday situations between 2 speakers.

Here the Speaker talks relatively slowly, making pauses between the conversation. This section is quite easy. It is a conversation on everyday situations, mainly social topics. For example, one person asking the other how to reach the city, two people discussing the plan of their upcoming journey, a tourist booking room at the hotel, a woman giving suggestions about a new project to her colleague etc.

Section 2:  A speech about everyday situations.

Speaker talks quite slowly but makes fewer pauses compared to the previous section. In this section, there is only one speaker talking on the general topic. This means that you have to listen to one speaker who is giving you the information for you to answer the topic may be about a service provided, public event, etc.

Section 3: Conversation on the topic of educational or training situation between 2 to 4 speakers.

This section is quite more difficult than the two previous sections as the speakers use advanced vocabulary in the monologue and discuss the topics at a faster pace. This means that you have to listen to up to four people talking to each other which may be about an academic subject in a seminar, students talking about a class assignment etc 

Section 4:  A speech on an academic subject.

This is a monologue or speech on an academic or study-related topic. This means you will have to listen to a person giving a lecture or talk, which is based on academics. Among all sections of the listening module, it is the most difficult one to understand and answer. There are no pauses in between, the speaker talks quite quickly and uses a good range of vocabulary. For example, speech regarding global warming and its effects,  talk on starting a subject lecture for children about endangered species etc.

Following charts describe in brief about the above-mentioned sub-sections:


Number of Speakers



Conversation between two speakers

Social situation


Speech given by one speaker

Social Situation


 Conversation between Two to four speakers 

 Educational or Training 


Speech given by one speaker

Academic Subject

Types of questions on IELTS Listening:

  1. Multiple-choice questions
  2. Short-answer questions
  3. Sentence completion
  4. Notes, summary, diagram, plan, table or chart completion
  5. Labelling a diagram 
  6. Matching
  7. Classification

IELTS listening tips for preparation

The main point in the preparation for the IELTS Listening test is a practice which must be done regularly until you appear for the official IELTS test. It is always a good strategy to listen to English speakers as often as you can.

  1. You must watch TV programs in English, listen and translate English songs, watch YouTube videos which are in English and get to the meaning of the words.
  2. You should also practice with the help of IELTS Listening practice tests and analyse your mistakes and work on it well.
  3. You should also do different types of listening exercises for each Listening part. This way you will develop your own techniques and methods for answering various types of questions in this section.
  4. It is much more effective when you listen to general listening materials like radio reports, TV-shows, documental programs etc and only after that take IELTS Listening practice tests.
  5. Section 3 in the listening module is almost always about education and training such as a discussion on an assignment by students and a tutor. Learn all the vocabulary you can relate to it.

IELTS listening tips for the exam.

In the first two sections, you should focus on listening to the specific factual information and in the last two sections, in addition to factual information, you have to focus on the speaker’s attitude and opinions as well.

  1. Focus on the given questions and decide which type of word fits in each gap. It may be a noun, verb, adjective or adverb?  Use ‘N' for the noun, use 'V' for verbs etc. This will help you to pay attention to the specific word forms while listening.
  2. Try to get a proper idea of the situation while listening to the recording. Before starting each part, a short introduction will be given to you: 'Now, you will hear a dialogue between…' or 'you will hear a lecture on…' This information is not written on the question paper, so pay attention. Take note of who the speakers are, what are they speaking about, why are they speaking, where are they etc. This will help you understand the rest of the recording easily.
  3. You will hear the particular audio-only once. So if you did not hear some words or sentences and passed over some questions, then it is better to leave them blank and focus on the ongoing part. Review those questions at the end of the section, otherwise, you will miss more questions and get confused during the recording.
  4. Listen carefully to words which indicate something important to you, such as however, then, but, finally. They will help you to predict what the speaker is actually saying.
  5. A lot of students make this mistake, as soon as they hear the required information, they assume it as the correct answer. But sometimes this information is repeated or corrected further in the recording. For example:
    Sofia: Thank you! I have received your email. So it is
    Annie: No-no! It is, spelt with M.
    Sofia: Oh, I am sorry…
  6. After each section, you will be given 30 seconds to check your answers. It is important to check spelling errors, plurals and word forms. Remember that only correctly written answers will award you points.
  7. You will not lose points for wrong answers, so even if you don't know the correct answer, it is better to answer something. Re-read the question and try to make a guess which you think is the most suitable one.
  8. At the end of this IELTS section, you will be given 10 minutes of time for transferring your answers into the given answer sheet. Sometimes test takers get confused in the numbering. So while writing the answer on the answer sheet, check that they fit into the correct numbered space. For example, make sure that the answer to question 6 goes into space number 6.

So, now you are totally informed about the Listening section of the IELTS and also we have mentioned all the tips and tricks you can take benefit of and crack the listening module well and score high.

All the best..!