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Listening Tips

3.15 (13 votes)

30th Jul 2019

If you’re looking for some IELTS listening tips to get high band score in IELTS listening test, then you’ve come to the right place.


IELTS listening module is considered to be the easiest of all 4 modules. However, this module is somewhat tricky in some ways if not tough. Understanding the fast speakers who are either native or nonnative is demanding.


Apart from this, the candidate has to read write and listen at the same time which requires multitasking. Not to mention the task of analyzing. In fact, just understanding the native, fluent speakers is a tough job for the majority of the candidates.


Then they have to find the right answers as well. The bottom line is the listening module is unique in some ways. This module is designed so that is challenges the participants enough.


Nevertheless, it is easy to improve very quickly in the listening module, which is not the same in other modules. This is what the Cambridge University does well, challenging the candidates with a wide range of hurdles.


So, what the candidates have to do in the listening exam?

All they have to do is multitasking which includes IELTS listening, reading, and writing. What about analyzing; it counts as well.


In fact, it’s a crucial factor here. To be able to handle all of these takes a great deal of practice and patience. While taking the IELTS exams, the students have to be focused all the time.


A lack of focus would cost students scores. The bottom line is they have to get used to with the exam beforehand.


This module comprises 40 questions in 4 sections. The difficulty level increases with time. Every section is of different kind.


Here, each question carries the same 1 point with no exception. One wrong answer means one less score. If someone gets 35 out of 40, the score would be an impressive eight. It would be written as listening band 8.0.


Need some Strategic, Focused Practice Sessions

The candidates need some strategic, focused practice sessions in dealing with the listening module. What makes the listening module special is multitasking, making it unique.


As there will be a great deal of listening to deal with, the students should expose themselves to a wide range of accent types, making them familiar with any English accent.  


In fact, the accents will be varied. This will make them ready for the actual IELTS exam where they have to face a range of speakers in different sections. The first section is supposed to be the easiest of all.


However, this section is comprised of a range of names, numbers, years, days and so forth. Even though this section is considered easy, it tastes the flexibility of the candidates. Again, this will be followed by harder sections to solve.


Some Effective General Tips and Tricks

1. Note Taking

It is one of the most essential skills here. It is not necessary that the audio track has to be Cambridge oriented.


Any movie track, talk show and documentary would be fine for practice. There has to be conversations and monologues in them.


The participants of the IELTS listening test have to go through some documentaries to further hone their listening skill.


This will help especially in the 4th section, which is often considered as more challenging than the rest. Every section is designed as to test some specific skills.


What multitasking does is it builds the ability to understand and answer the range of questions. In the real exam, the capability of taking quick notes would act as leverage.


For note taking, any simple audio or video tracks will do just fine for a starter. Then, the candidates can approach harder contents such as documentaries, gradually.


2. Keywords Technique

Understanding the important keywords is half the job. The keywords are the clue words, guiding the candidates find the correct answer.


The participants will find the exam easier if they master this skill. Without circling or underlining the question, the exam takers would be confused in the process.


It is also important to know how to select the keywords. The most important keywords would be the adjectives, nouns, verbs and sometimes prepositions depending on the question types.


3. Putting Signs and Marks

By putting signs and marks, the candidates can separate the important words and anything significant.


While the audio is played, the signs help the participants identify the correct answers. What the marks and signs do is they give clue in crunch time.


4. Utilizing the Extra Time

The speaker instructs the candidates to read and check the questions and answers in every section more than once. This time is precious if used properly.


What a student can do is to utilize this time wisely in reading the forth coming questions well in advance. By doing so the MCQ and the other kinds of questions would be easier to deal with.


The fast speaking tracks and the small amount of time create pressure on the candidates. Reading the questions carefully and long enough in those pockets of times would be more conducive.


5. Understanding the Directions

This skill is important in dealing with maps and plans, especially. There will be instructions where the candidates have to understand the directions and instructions.


An understanding of left and right, and the four sides which are east, west, north and south is critical. Not being able to follow the directions would be problematic.


There are some places and position related vocabularies which are crucial to understand. Some maps are little complicated; therefore, to be familiar with them is a must.


6. Keeping an Eye on Two Questions at a Time

This is because the questions are in a serial, and if the candidate misses one answer, he is likely to miss another question as well. 


Being alert about the next question will prevent the candidate from missing a number of questions at a stretch.


7. Practice Writing on the Answer Sheet

This will make the candidates ready for the exam. The space in the answer sheet is limited. This is why the candidates should practice writing on it.


8. Taking the Cambridge Sample Exams

The Cambridge IELTS books provide students with similar kind of questions of the real exam.  Practicing these books will give the participants a real idea about the actual exam.


9. Spelling Matters

Spelling mistakes will cost marks. One spelling will cost one mark. Therefore, the participants have to practice correct spelling.


10. Reading the Instructions Carefully

The instructions are important in many ways. The number of words, numbers, dates, and others options have to be according to the given instructions.


If the word count is wrong, the answer would be marked as wrong as well.


Often times the answered word is already included in the question. This is also something to be checked.


IELTS Listening Test Tips for Band 9


Achieving a band 9 is a tough ask to follow. It requires a candidate to get at least 39 out of 40, which is a remarkable achievement.


IELTS listening test tips for band 9


The candidate has to be immensely focused in the exam hall from the start to the end. However, a lot of students are receiving a perfect 9, showing that it is achievable.


Making almost every answers correct requires a great deal of practice and intentionality.


This candidate of 9 understands the language English extremely well. He or she has no issues regarding the understanding aspect.


Some quick test tips for band 9

  • Spelling carefully
  • Counting words accordingly
  • Taking the Cambridge exam samples
  • Listening to podcasts regularly
  • Practicing specific, difficult questions for improvement
  • Practicing maps carefully
  • Taking mock tests regularly
  • Gradually growing the skill for individual type of question


Finally, a ‘band nine student’ has to leave no stone unturned. This means a lot of practice and experimentation in the process.


For most of the students, getting a band 9 is really challenging. Again, practice is the only way around. In fact, almost anyone can score a band 9 by practicing.


IELTS Academic Listening Tips

For academic listening, taking the actual exams (Cambridge 1 to 14 books) is one of the ways to hone the skill. Both the academic and the general listening exam are the same.


Even the marking criteria are the same.  Sometimes, the listening tracks are the same if both the general and the academic exams are held on the same date.


The above mentioned facts should be taken into one’s account. This is merely the general idea of what the candidates have to do. We will discover further deep into it.


How can I improve my listening in IELTS?

Improvement in IELTS listening demands a set of skills using some exam-oriented tricks. It includes multitasking as mentioned previously.


Apart from usual exam-based listening, someone has to focus on intentional general listening also. The more one is surrounded by listening; the better would be his/her outcome.


Then comes, the note taking skill, which is immensely important. Whenever the candidate is listening to something, he or she should start taking notes.


Notes make the participant more alert while listening. These notes also help the students with finding the answers. In fact, note taking builds the speed of writing the answers down.


The faster someone takes notes, the comfortable he/she will find the listening exam.


Some Tips and Tricks on the Basis of Specific Question Types

1. Fill in the Gaps and Sentence Completion

There will be a number of sentences in sets with gaps. The students have to circle the keywords wisely to find the answer easily. Choosing a wrong keyword might end up getting the wrong answer.


The students should also circle the prepositions prior to the gaps. They have to anticipate the probable answers in advance. Spelling has to be accurate also. Misspelling leads to point loss.


Word count has to be accordingly too. The instruction should be followed accordingly.


Grammar matters here because incorrect grammar will definitely cost marks.


2. MCQ

This is one category where the students usually lose score. There is a lot of text in multiple choice questions. Reading through them while separating the wrong and right answers requires intense attention.


When the students are given some extra time to check the answers and read questions, the most of it should be spent mainly for MCQ.


The candidate has to cross out the options other than the right one. Eliminating the options makes the task easier for the candidate.


3. Short Answers

This type of questions take more time as it requires reading more than usual. In fact, the students have to write the exact word that was found in the text.


In rare cases, he or she has to modify the word according to grammar.


4. Matching Information

There might be a list of features regarding a specific topic, advantage, or any general list. This is usually inside a box with a heading.


The questions always follow the audio, but the list of choices in the box is always jumbled in order. The speakers will certainly go back and forth in mentioning the options.


After mentioning something, they might immediately cancel the choice and move on to another option. The candidates have to cross out the taken options one after the other.


This will make the job easier as the number of options is reducing with time.


5. Maps

This kind of question is somewhat tricky. Without understanding the maps and directions, a candidate would find them problematic.


There will be a map with gap filling. The speaker will be mentioning the locations and the directions to them.


There will be parks, stadiums, houses, plans, gardens and the likes. Without a great deal of practice, most of the students would not be succeeded in map completion.


6. Flow Chart Completion

For flowchart, there will be some options more than what is needed. The candidate has to follow the instructions sequentially and carefully to keep track of the stages.


In every stage, there might not be questions to be answered. After carefully putting every answer, the participants have to cross out or circle the used answers to eliminate them from the options, making it easier.


7. Section 4 or the Long Run

This is supposed to be the toughest section but actually it is not. This is a continuous talk and being focused is demanded of this section.


There will be ample time for reading and checking questions and answers. The reading time is critical as it helps understand the possible answers.


There will be many plural answers. Actually, this is essentially intentional to challenge and to catch the participants off guard. Thereby, do not forget the plurals.


There is also ‘’and’’ issue, which is worth remembering. After ‘‘and’’, there is a gap filling. Before and, there would be a person, object, event or a name.


Therefore, the candidate should follow ‘’and’’, circling it whenever it shows up. The same is true for ‘’or’’. Take for example, ‘’The man and___. 


The answer would be something related with the man which comes before ‘’and’’. Now, circling ‘’and’’ would make finding the answer much easier.


Some Bonus Tips and Tricks

1. Do not Lose Your Focus

Since the audio will be played only once, you must absorb everything you hear. It does not mean memorizing; it simply means that you will have to properly understand it through active listening.


If you try to take notes or think about your previous answers while the audio is being played, you may lose your concentration.





2. Do not Waste Time

Whenever a section ends, you do not have to transfer your answers to the answer sheet immediately. You will get 10 minutes time to do so at the end of the test.


Therefore, when the audio is paused in between the sections, take a quick look over the next set of questions.


This will give you some clue regarding the context and content of the next audio.


3. Pay Attention to Small Details

While writing the answers in a hurry, be mindful about including small details in your answers such a preposition, capital letters, singular / plural forms and signs (such as % and $).


You should also check the spelling of your answers as spelling mistakes are one of the common mistakes made by candidates in the listening module.


Some Final Tips and Tricks

  • Use the extra time judiciously for reading the forth coming questions.
  • Write only on the question paper while the listening track is being played.
  • Use the short hand on the question paper if possible as speed is crucial in answering. This avoids missing out answers in crunch time.
  • Learn directions and related vocabularies.
  • Practice writing dates, numbers, days, passport numbers and credit card numbers to get used to.
  • Underline and circle keywords.
  • Finally, do not hurry in reading the instruction words. If someone misses out a point of the instruction, it might cost a mark or more.


The bottom line is listening gives a student an easy chance to score a 9 band which takes more time in other modules.


With proper, focused time spent by learning some tricks and techniques, it is within the reach of most of the candidates.



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Robert Mbabazi
I have the listening test on19th january. How can I over come the challange of spellings.
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