IELTS Listening Overview and Strategy 1

IELTS Listening Overview and Strategy

IELTS Listening! In this article, we will study the IELTS listening overview and strategy.

IELTS Listening Overview

The IELTS Listening Test is the same for the Academic and General Training modules. You listen to language spoken in a social or academic context and answer a series of questions. The tape is played only once so you have to practice sufficiently beforehand to pick up what’s being said the first time around.

The listening test is divided into four sections with 10 questions in each part (a total of 40 questions). This module lasts about 30 minutes. You get an extra 10 minutes at the end to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.


Each of the four sections of the IELTS Listening Test focuses on a different type of speech, as shown below:

  • Section 1 – A social or transactional dialogue – 2 speakers
  • Section 2 – A topic or short speech on a general topic – 1 speaker
  • Section 3 – A conversation in an academic context – 2-4 speakers
  • Section 4 – An academic lecture – 1 speaker

Section 1

In the first section, there is a conversation between two speakers. For example – a conversation about travel arrangements, booking accommodation, or decisions on a night out.

Section 2

The second section is a monologue (a speech by one person). It will be set in an everyday social context. For example – a speech about student services on a University campus or arrangements for meals during a conference.

Section 3

Section three is a conversation between up to four people. For example – a conversation between a tutor and a student about an assignment or between three students planning a research project.

Section 4

The final part is another monologue. It is a lecture or talk of general academic interest such as a university lecturer.


The listening test measures how well you can listen for main ideas, specific information, supporting information, facts and opinions. You will find a variety of question types:

  • Multiple choices
  • Short answer
  • Sentence completion
  • Notes/diagram/flow chart completion
  • Matching
  • Classification

The variety of question types means that you sometimes need to write in the answer in your own writing, versus simply choosing the right answer. This is important because in such cases, you also need to spell correctly or the answer will be marked wrong. Even a small error can cause you to lose marks. For example, if the answer is “hat”; and you write “hats”, it may be marked wrong.

You also have to make sure you include the correct information. If the answer is “Green hats” and you write only “hats”, you may also lose points.

IELTS Listening Strategy

You will get a better sense of how precise you need to be by doing as many practice listening exams as possible before your actual test. Believe it or not, you will improve with practice, though it might seem impossible at first. Your ear and your concentration can be trained. Over time, you will improve – but only if you remain patient and move steadily towards your goal of the highest score possible.

You will be provided with instructions on the test paper on how to answer the questions, and they are clear and easy to follow. You will be given examples of any unfamiliar question types.

During the IELTS listening test, you are given time to read the questions and enter and then check your answers. You enter your answers on the question paper as you listen and when the tape ends ten minutes are allowed for you to transfer your answers to an Answer Sheet.

One mark is awarded for each of the 40 items in the test.


Full playlist of IELTS Listening Practice Test for practicing your listening skills online.