How To Prepare for and Pass the IELTS Listening Test 1

How To Prepare for and Pass the IELTS Listening Test

The IELTS Listening Test is an examination of your listening skills. During the test, you will read through the questions and then listen. You will hear a recording only once, so listen carefully. Write your answers to what you are listening to and then at the end of the test you will have a short time to use your notes to answer the questions. These tips will help you prepare for your IELTS listening test, as well as give you the best advice to use during the exam.

Tips To Prepare for the IELTS Listening Test

Practice Tour Shorthand

The test only allows you to listen to the verbal answers once, so you will not have time to record everything you are hearing. Thus, it is important to be concise and quick when recording what you are hearing. One of the best ways to achieve this is by writing in shorthand. This is where you write in a short way that will be able to trigger your memory. You can practice this by listening to a TV show, movie or song and writing in shorthand about things relevant to what you are hearing, such as conversations or answers to questions you form.

Practice Spelling and Grammar

Since your final answers will be written, you must be able to use the correct spelling and grammar. If you do not, then you will lose marks. English can be very difficult sometimes, for instance, the difference between there, their and they’re may seem impossible. So, practice, practice, practice. Use whatever method of study works best for you, but be sure that you are confident in your ability to use the correct spelling of most words. If you struggle with a word, then try and avoid using it in your answers. Instead, find an alternative word, or a similar word (synonym).

Learn To Multitask

You will be required and expected to be able to read, write and listen at the same time. Doing all 03 can be very taxing on your brain, so the best way to prepare for this is to… practice. The ability to do this is not something that comes easily to everyone, even to natural-born English speakers. Sometimes you may be better able to focus on one or another. If that is the case, it may be prudent to find a method of coping with this. For example, if you can read and listen well, but not write at the same time, you could try breaking things up into parts. Read and listen, then write down what you need to as an individual activity. The ability to do this may be limited to the exam, but if you can focus on what you know you will need to write down, then you can pace this for yourself.

Tips for the IELTS Listening Test on Test Day

Follow Instructions Carefully

Be precise and understand exactly what a question is asking. This can be difficult, due to the ambiguity of the English language, you may not be able to easily decipher what exactly is being asked. For example, if a question asks you to complete the sentence “in the…” and you know the correct answer is “evening,” then the correct answer to the question would be “evening” and not “in the evening.” A small difference, but one that makes you right or wrong. Double-check the question, once before answering, and again after answering to ensure your answer is correct.

Concentrate and Anticipate

Concentration is key to focus. Focus allows you to pay attention and digest as much information as possible. When you are focused, your brain turns all its power towards the task. In this case, understanding the information you are hearing and then writing it down. Without concentration, your brain will not give enough attention to the task and you will miss things. Try also to anticipate your examiner, this will put your brain into overdrive and help you focus better.

Don’t Stress If You Don’t Know a Word

You are on a time limit for this exam, so it is more important to answer or not answer and move on as soon as you are sure you’ve done your best. The word may not even be important to the answer, so focus only on what matters to be able to answer the question. Some words are more difficult than others, and some you might struggle with. For these words, it is better to skip them or use an alternative you have prepared (mentioned in tip 2).

Word Count Counts

Many questions will have a word limit, and you are expected to stick to it exactly. If a question requires 2 words, then you will find an answer that uses 2 words. IF you have a question that requires 4 words, then use 4 words! For example, if the question is asking you a question that you know the answer is “treasure island,” but the question asks for a 4-word answer, then you might say “the mysterious treasure island.” Stretching your answer, or shrinking it, are surprisingly vital tools in an English speaker’s arsenal.

Do Your Best & Don’t Stress!

Relax, be confident, and know that you have prepared for this (hopefully!). If you do not know an answer, then skip it and come back later if you can. Do not feel bad about this, it is more important you answer the questions you can answer than to try to answer the questions you cannot answer. See how hard English is sometimes? If you are unsure, take a blind guess, you will not lose marks for an incorrect answer, so you may as well try!


Armed with these 8 tips, it is our hope that you will be able to overcome your IELTS listening test and be ready to move on to the next step or complete the qualification. If you take the time to prepare, practice and study, then you will be in a good place to put the tips from part 2 into practice. Follow these tips but above all, remember to summon your best disposition; be calm, relaxed and confident and you will do fine. Good luck with your IELTS listening test.