The listening module is the first test you do on the test day. The tape is only played once. You are given a question paper and an answer sheet. While you listen you write your answers on the question paper.
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When the tape stops you are given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. The test takes about 30 minutes.
Structure of the test
The first two sections are concerned with social needs.
Section 1 – In this section you will hear an informal or semi-informal conversation between two people. For example, you might hear a discussion about what’s on television; or you might hear someone making a complaint about their rented flat or a faulty product, or someone asking for information or making a booking.
Section 2 – In this section you will hear a monologue in a similar context to section 1. For example you could hear someone talking about the restaurants in a town or describing the rules or regulations in a hostel or the procedure you need to follow in order to make a complaint. The last two sections are concerned with situations related to educational or training contexts.
Section 3 – In this section you will hear a conversation with up to four speakers. It will be more formal than Section 1. The speakers could be students discussing a lecture or planning something for class or talking to someone in authority at a college or university.
Section 4 – In this section you will hear a monologue in the form of a lecture or talk. It will also be more formal. All the topics will be of general interest and not biased towards students of particular disciplines.
General Tips For IELTS Listening Test
Before the exam
- Make sure you are familiar with the instructions for the different question types so you can quickly glance at the questions and know what to do.
- Think about the type of situations you might come across living or studying in an English speaking country, such as someone asking for directions or talks on topics of general interest.
- Listen to as wide a range of material as possible – English language television and radio, listening sites on the Internet and films and music are all great sources.
- Do as many practice tests as you can to get used to the speed of delivery and the task types.
- Focus on the strategies and skills you need for listening.
- ‘listening for specific information’,
- ‘guessing meaning of words’,
- ‘recognising signposts’,
- ‘understanding lectures & talks’
Practise these strategies and skills with as much listening material as you can.
During the exam
- Make sure you use the 30 seconds given at the beginning of each section to read the questions before listening.
- Make sure you look at all the questions in each section.
- Make sure you read the instructions carefully.
- Make sure you know what form your answer should take e.g. a word, a letter, a tick, a phrase, a circle around the correct letter etc
- Make sure you use the time given to analyse the questions.
- Decide what you are listening for. Are you listening for specific information, for the main idea or for the speaker’s attitude?
- Use the outline given of the topic, who is talking and the situation to predict possible answers.
- When you look at the questions, think about synonyms. You may not hear the exact words that are in the answer choices.
- Listen carefully to the instructions.
- Listen out for key words and common signpost words like – ‘on the other hand’, ‘in contrast’ etc
- Remember the questions usually follow the same sequence as the conversation or talk but the information may be expressed differently from the questions.
- Write down something even if you haven’t got the answer before moving on to the next question.
- Make sure you continue to listen while you are writing as you only hear the tape once.
- Don’t get stuck on a question you can’t answer. Just move on.
- Remember there may be sections of irrelevant information. Just keep listening for the information you need.
- Write notes in the question booklet as you listen. This may help you go back to a difficult question later.
- Make sure you transfer your answers correctly.
- Make sure you use the time given to check your answers.
- If you can’t remember an answer, guess.