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Top Tips for Scoring High on the IELTS Listening Section

Examiner-approved Listening tips

  • At the beginning of each section read the questions for that section carefully, before the recording starts. This will help you to follow the recording and identify the answers.
  • After completing a section, it is better to look ahead and read the questions for the next section than to worry about the last section.
  • You will sometimes have a list of options to choose from as answers. The possible answers may be listed in alphabetical order and not necessarily in the order you will hear them.
  • Be careful to note word limits. If there is an instruction: Write no more than two words, writing more than two words will mean you will receive no marks at all for your answer, even if some of the words were correct.
  • Try to listen for key words or synonyms (words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as another word) from the question to help you identify the answer. For example, in the recording you might hear: “She likes going to the gym and playing tennis”. On your answer sheet, this could appear as “She is an active person.”
  • You may be asked to write down words that have been spelled out in the recording. In order to do this well, you need to know the English alphabet and how each letter is pronounced (for example, the letter ‘W’ is pronounced as ‘double-u’).
  • Listen carefully for words which indicate which stage of the recording you are listening to, e.g. ‘firstly’, ‘my next point’, ‘to sum up’. These words will help you identify which question you have reached.
  • As you are listening to the recording, cross out options which don’t fit. This makes it easier for you to find the right answer.
  • If you are writing dates as an answer to any question remember that there are several correct ways to write them (e.g. 24th April, April 24 and 24 April are all correct).
  • If there are questions you cannot answer leave them and move on to the next question. This will help you to stay calm and positive. Go back to those questions at the end, if you have time.
  • After the last recording has ended you have ten minutes to transfer your answers from the Listening booklet to your answer sheet. Don’t make the mistake of copying these answers across to the answer sheet in between sections or you may miss important information about the next section of the test. Wait until the end of Section 4 before transferring your answers.

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