Importance of multitasking in IELTS listening test!

IELTS listening is the only section that requires you to listen, read and write simultaneously. This makes it challenging for some test takers. Added to the challenge are the native speakers with different accents and fast speaking. But there is always a solution!

Multitasking for IELTS listening is a must-have skill that can save you not only in the exam but in life too. If utilized effectively, multitasking enables you to listen to a recording, read the questions, and write your answers simultaneously. The good news is that multitasking is a learned skill!

In this article, we teach you multitasking for IELTS listening so you can achieve your desired band score in IELTS and move on to your new country.

How to learn to multitask for IELTS listening?

IELTS listening section has 40 questions about four recordings, and you have 30 minutes to answer them. The first recording is a conversation between 2 or more people about a social subject. The second has the same context but in a monologue format. The other two have academic subjects in the same formats. The question types are varied from multiple choice to matching, labelling, and text completion.

The answer sheet is divided into headings that can help you pinpoint the text relevant to the recording. If you take paper-based IELTS, you have 10 minutes after the recordings to transfer your notes to the answering sheet. But in a computer-delivered test, you only have 2 minutes to review your answers on the screen.

Your spelling and grammar must be correct to get the full mark for each answer. But if you make a mistake, you won’t get a negative mark which is good news!

When it comes to multitasking for IELTS listening, all you have to do is manage your attention between your hearing, vision, and hand. Here is how to do it:

Concentrate on the task at hand and nothing else

This might sound counterintuitive when talking about multitasking, but the truth about concentration is that your brain is processing one thought at any given time. Since the speed of passing thoughts is too high, it seems you are handling many tasks at once. Each of those tasks occupies a part of your brain and passes through specific neural channels, all of which require resources. So, if you limit the tasks to just one, your brain invests all its resources to that task only, and your focus intensifies. In essence, you are asking your brain’s executive function to prioritize one cognitive process and complete it in 30 minutes!

When multitasking for IELTS listening, it is the only task you should complete, so decide to forget about anything else, even other test sections! Give your undivided attention to the recording and move forward while simultaneously moving your eyes and hand with the questions. If you lose your focus, immediately return and don’t worry about the missed information. You will have time in the end to answer all questions, and since you don’t get negative marks for wrong answers, we strongly recommend answering all questions.

Identify what needs to be done

Multitasking starts with making a to-do list and prioritizing your attention for them. In multitasking for IELTS listening, your to-do list is defined by questions. So, you have to pay attention to what is being asked in each question.

Extracting the overall context of the recording and the keywords in the questions requires strong skimming and scanning skills.

So read the questions first when you are given time before each recording plays. Underline the keywords so you can actively listen for them in the recording. But don’t narrow your attention too much to the words. Instead, keep an expanded field of attention for the overall context while hearing selectively.

Remember to pay special attention to the tricky parts, such as verb tenses and noun forms. They might come in negative or synonym forms, or they might be capitalized. Units of measurement and word counts are also important and often mislead test takers.

Practice over and over again to build the habit

If you pay attention to your daily activities, you will realize that you are already multitasking! When you are cooking and talking on the phone or listening to music and exercising, you are using all your senses to get things done. You don’t notice them because they have become subconscious habits that require no active thinking!

The same goes for multitasking for IELTS listening! If you practice sample tests every day, it will become second nature, so you don’t have to worry about where to put your attention! You can even practice active listening or conscious multitasking to strengthen ears, eyes, and hands coordination when performing everyday chores. Even playing games or sports can practice your brain stay sharp and focused!

However, after practising with sample tests every day, you should take a mock test that is a replica of real IELTS and is even marked by certified examiners. This way, you can map your progress and change your practice strategy if you are not getting results.


Multitasking for IELTS listening is a learned skill that can be strengthened by practising daily. You should work on your skimming and scanning skills while sharpening your focus by active listening and being mindful of everything you do.

When you are happy with your daily practices, take an online IELTS mock test from the comfort of your home and get marked by certified examiners. They can show your progress and guide you toward a more thoughtful strategy and effective multitasking that yields better results. This is how to make sure you achieve your desired band score in real IELTS.

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