5 Keys to Success in IELTS Listening that Result in the Perfect Score!

So you have been dreaming about getting a high band score in your upcoming IELTS exam, but the listening section is stressing you out. Don’t worry; you are not alone! IELTS listening is challenging for everyone. After all, English is not your first language. But it doesn’t mean you can’t master it!

This article will reveal 5 keys to success in IELTS listening that if you hold, a perfect score is guaranteed.

1. Know the test format

IELTS test format is the same for academic and general types, but it is slightly different in paper-based tests compared to computer-delivered tests.

For both types of tests, 4 recordings are played for 30 minutes, each having 10 questions. You have time to read the questions before each recording. Make yourself familiar with what is being asked and look for the answers when the recordings play. Keep in mind that the recordings will be played just once!

The first two recordings have everyday social contexts, set in a conversation and a monologue format, respectively. But the second two recordings have academic contexts.

There are headings throughout the answer sheet that will help you recognize the next question’s topic to match what you hear with the text in front of you.

There are varieties of types when it comes to questions such as multiple-choice, matching, labelling and completion, so it is imperative to practice each type before sitting the IELTS exam.

In the paper-based test, you will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet at the end of the recordings. But you have only 2 minutes to review your answers in a computer-delivered test. Use this time to double-check your answers and fill out the questions you missed.

Each correct answer is awarded 1 mark, and there is no negative mark for wrong answers. Spelling and grammar must also be correct; otherwise, you lose the mark for that answer.

2. Sharpen your focus

Sharp focus is always a great skill, but when trying to listen to a recording in order to answer some questions, you need to hear selectively.

You should be able to recognize the keywords of the questions while understanding the whole context. That is why highlighting or underlining the keywords before the recording begins is very helpful.

If you lose focus even for a moment, you will miss questions that will lower your score.  To prevent further loss, immediately bring back your attention to the recording and move on with the next question. You will be given time at the end of recordings to answer questions you skipped. If you don’t know the correct answer, choose the most likely option considering the context. Don’t leave any question unanswered because you won’t get negative marks for wrong answers anyway!

To sharpen your focus, you can practice selective hearing in your everyday activities and also listen to IELTS sample tests as much as you can.

3. Become familiar with different English accents

IELTS is the accepted test in many countries, so the test recordings are often in various accents such as British, American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Listen to audio files as much as possible from different countries to recognize the differences and become familiar with subtleties. In addition, online talks, podcasts, news, TV shows and documentaries are good sources to familiarize yourself with different English accents.

4. Expand your vocabulary

Vocabularies are the building blocks of every language, and there are many complexities, such as synonyms and opposites. Without a good understanding of these subtle differences, you might not be able to recognize what the question is asking. There are always some questions to test your knowledge of synonym words as well as plurals and singulars.

Choose new words to learn in various subjects and review them regularly so you can permanently memorize them. It is often easier to learn new words if you love the subject! Make it fun and create your own “hacks” to memorize words.

5. Master skimming and scanning skills

Yes, you heard it right. Even in the listening section, you need your reading skills, such as skimming and scanning, because you are given the questions first to read. You need to skim the questions for general context and scan them to underline or highlight keywords. Then use the same skimming and scanning skills while listening to the recordings to find those keywords. However, don’t rush to answer when you first hear the keyword. Listen to the end of each part and pay attention to how information changes.

Pay close attention to verb tenses and noun forms, specifically negative verbs, synonym words, units of measurement and word count. Any mistake in spelling, grammar and word count will turn your correct answer into a wrong one!

For example:

If you have been asked to answer in “one word”, writing “the book” as the answer is wrong because it has 2 words. Or if Alice in the recording “reads” a book every night except Saturdays, but the question asks which night of the week Alice “doesn’t read” a book, the correct answer is Saturday.

Closing words

IELTS listening is critical for your success in the test as well as the undertaking that has required you to take the test. Be it a university admission, employment or immigration, you need to prove that you understand the language of your destination country.

In the test, you need to hear and recognize the words and understand the concept while quickly answering the questions. This requires your maximum attention and multiple skills such as skimming and scanning along with an expanded knowledge of vocabularies and accents.

Holding the 5 keys that we revealed in this article, you will be one step closer to getting a high band score and proving yourself an “expert user” of the English language.

Above all, mastering IELTS listening requires practice and IELTS mock tests provide you with the opportunity to practice in a similar setting as an actual IELTS exam. At TakeIELTS.net we have helped thousands of candidates achieve their target IELTS band score with our online IELTS mock tests.

Put your Listening skills to test
by taking a full-length online IELTS mock test

Let’s Get Started