IELTS Listening FAQs

IELTS Listening FAQ Section aims to answer all the questions you might have regarding the IELTS Listening test. Some of the FAQs are designed to give you as much information as possible to eliminate any doubt you might have.
Read carefully the questions and answers listed here as they will better prepare you for your Listening test. Some answers would even guide you to prepare well for this test.  

IELTS Listening Test Information

  1. How many sections are there? 
    There are 4 sections in the IELTS listening test. Section 1 and 2 are based on social situations while sections 3 and 4 are academic.
  2. Does everyone take the same test or is there a separate GT and separate Academic Listening test? 
    There is only one listening test for everyone. The same test, same marking. GT & Academic candidates take the same listening test and the same speaking test.
  3. How many questions are there? 
    There are a total of 40 questions in the listening test. 10 questions in each section.
  4. How long is the listening test? 
    The IELTS listening test lasts for 40 minutes. You listen to the recording and answer the questions for 30 minutes. After that you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
  5. How many times will I be able to listen to the recording? 
    You only get a chance to listen once to the recording. So make sure you prepare the questions well and that you concentrate.
  6. What is the listening answer sheet? 
    You will have time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet when you have finished listening. You will have an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answer to the answer sheet.
  7. How can I find my score for listening? 
    Here is a list of points for band scores 6-8
    • band score 6 = 23 correct answers out of 40
    • band score 7 = 30 correct answers out of 40
    • band score 8 = 35 correct answers out of 40
  8. Do I lose a point if my answer is wrong? 
    No, you don’t lose a point for a wrong answer. So, never leave an empty space on your answer sheet – always have a guess.
  9. Do the answers come in order? 
    It depends on the type of question. For some questions the answers are in order, for other types they are not. Read through my blog to find out.
  10. Will I have time to read the questions before I listen?
    Yes, you will be given some time to look over the questions before the recording begins. Use this time wisely. Read the questions, underline key words and think of any possible paraphrases you might hear. They will tell you how many questions to read through “you will now hear questions 4-10….” – this for this information to make sure how many questions you must read through before the recording starts.
  11. Can I write on the listening question paper? 
    Yes, you can. You can make notes, underline words and write on any part of the question paper. Only your answer sheet will be marked. In fact, it is very useful to make notes on your question paper and can help you locate answers.
  12. Can I have extra paper for making notes? 
    No, you should use the question paper to write on while you listen.
  13. Are capital letters important? 
    No. Capital letters are not important. They won’t affect your score.
  14. Should I use a pen or pencil? 
    For your listening and reading test, you must use a pencil. so don’t forget to take an eraser with you. However, for writing you can choose either pen or pencil.
  15. Do questions come in order? 
    Yes. IELTS Listening questions come in order.
  16. In multiple choice questions, can I write words or do the answers need to be letters? 
    It is very important that if the instructions ask you to choose a letter, then your answer must be a letter not words. Read the instructions very carefully so you don’t lose points.
  17. What accents will there be in the listening test? 
    IELTS is an international English language test so you might hear a variety of different accents in the recording. You should practice listening to different accents before your test.
  18. Is spelling important? 
    Yes, it is. If the answer is spelled incorrectly, it will be marked wrong.
  19. How can I improve section 4 of the listening test?
    1) Section 4 is a lecture so that means it will be structured. The information will follow a normal pattern which you must try to follow. The speaker will move from point to point. Check your questions to see if they are a new point or examples etc. See the order of information in the questions.
    2) You must build speed at preparing the questions for section 4. You must be able to read and prepare all questions in the time given. This is skill you must practice. Immediately underline key words which will help you follow the information coming. You should practice this skill again and again to improve. Always underline or circle the words which will help you locate your place in the listening.
    3) Always keep your eye on more than one question at once. If you are listening for question 34, then you must also have your eye on question 35. When I say “keep your eye on” , I mean keep your mind open for the key words in the next question(s).
    4) Some key words will be repeated but that doesn’t mean other key words will be. You must learn to identify which are useful key words and which are not. Any word that can’t be paraphrased will be useful to help you find your place in the talk. So, academic words, names, dates etc are all useful and can help you.
    5) Listen for signposts. These are words which indicate when the speaker is repeating information, when the speaker is moving on to another point in the talk or just giving examples and details. Signposts are similar to linking devices “Another point to consider is…” or “if we look at the aspect of …”. Pay attention to these words.
  20. Should I use “the” or “a” with my answer? 
    If you are completing a sentence then you must make sure the sentence is grammatically correct when you fill in the answer. That means you might need to use articles (a / the). However, if you are only writing notes, forms or completing a table, diagram or flowchart, you won’t need to think about grammar.
  21. How can I write the time 9am or 9.00am or 9:30am? 
    IELTS accept all forms of written time: 9AM, 9am, 9:00AM, 9.00AM & 9.00am.
  22. How can I write a date? 25th march or 25 march?
    IELTS accept both. We never write the word “of”
  23. If I write Northroad instead of North Road, is the answer correct? 
    No, it is wrong. If the answer contains two separate words, then they must be written separately. This is testing your spelling of compound nouns. 
  24. Can I use brackets for my answers, for example, school(s)? 
    No, you can’t. IELTS candidates must choose one answer only. They cannot use brackets in their answers. See the above question for the relevant link.
  25. Can I write “6” instead of the word “6”? 
    Yes. As you are marked on spelling, it is best to write numbers as digits. The instructions will always allow for this.