IELTS Listening

The listening part of the test is the first you will encounter. It is divided into four sections with increasing difficulty. The main problem is that you will be allowed to listen to the cassette just once. Usually you have to write something you hear (a telephone number, an address, a name, etc.). Some questions are multiple choice. The total number of questions you have to answer is 40. More than 30 anwers right means a good mark, but sometimes you may get an acceptable mark even with 27 or 28 correct answers. The first suggestion is the following: write the answers as you hear them. Waiting could be a mistake because later you will not to remember the answer, particularly if you have to write something, and you won't get the chance to listen to the same piece again. You will have the chance to read the following questions before listening each section. Use this chance: in this way you will be able to concentrate your attention just to the part  you are interested in. In fact you do not have to understand everything if you want a good mark. You need to understand just what answers you have to give. Do not lose time trying to understand everything. You always have to know what question you are waiting for: when you hear the answer write it at once or, if you do not understand it, start reading the next question and waiting for the answer.
At the end of the listening test you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet: use those minutes to complete the answer sheet and try to write something in all the 40 spaces even if you are not sure of the correct answer. A wrong answer is as wrong as no answer: so try! You could be lucky!
IELTS material is in some countries difficult to find. To practice your listening I suggest you to buy or borrow  a library Proficiency test. I found the listening part of Proficiency tests more difficult than IELTS, even though there you can listen to the pieces twice. If you are used to doing difficult tests, you will find the real exam easier! Of course try to listen as much as possible to people speaking in English: films with subtitles are very useful. If you live in England use page 888 of Teletext on television: most of the programs are subtitled. If you live in Australia you should watch "Behind the news" on Channel 2. It is very good for Listening practice.
  • Tip from Ros (April 2001):
Between questions you, as the test candidate, are given 30 seconds (1) to check the answers to the section just completed and (2) 30 seconds to read the section which you are about to do. Since time is given at the end of the test to check all your answers, I suggest that you use all 60 seconds to read the next section. Do not waste time checking your answers at this point. One of the biggest difficulties of the IELTS listening test is that you have to read and listen at the same time. Try to read as much as you can during the 60 second break as this will help you to listen for the specific information you need to answer the questions.


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