Top 9 IELTS Listening Tips & Strategies To Improve Your IELTS Score

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The IELTS exam has four components; Listening, speaking, writing and reading. Every component has its importance in getting a reasonable score to pass the exam. In this guide, we will focus on the listening part of the IELTS test and understand how to score better with some effective IELTS listening tips. We will also find out the exam format and how to prepare well for your listening exam.

What is the IELTS Listening Test Format?

The IELTS listening exam has four parts, and you will get 30 minutes to complete 40 questions. Every question carries one mark, and the questions in the paper are arranged in the same order as the recording you will be hearing.

  1. Part 1: The first part contains a conversation between two people. The conversation is about a social context where two people can discuss the previous day’s match or make plans for the weekend.
  2. Part 2: This part has a monologue and contains a social context. You may hear a person giving a speech about a common topic.
  3. Part 3: The third part of the IELTS listening exam is also a conversation between two people, but the topic is academic and more related to the candidate’s training.
  4. Part 4: The last part is a monologue on an academic subject.

You will get 30 minutes to listen to the recording and write the answers simultaneously on a rough sheet. Afterwards, you have to transfer the responses to the answer sheet, and for this, you will get an extra 10 minutes. On average, candidates get a score of 8 in the IELTS listening test, which is the highest average among all the components of the exam. Let’s find out how to get a high score on the IELTS listening test.

Helpful Tips for IELTS Listening Test (Preparation)

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Top 9 IELTS Listening Tips & Strategies To Improve Your IELTS Score

These IELTS listening tips will help you prepare well for the exam.

Practice with different accents

The recordings you will get in the exam may have speakers from different linguistic regions portraying the English dialect popular in their region. So, prepare well for different accents stemming from various English-speaking countries. News channels are an essential source of getting to know these accents. BBC is one, but you should also listen to some local news channels, podcasts, or radio stations.

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Top 9 IELTS Listening Tips & Strategies To Improve Your IELTS Score

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Prepare for every type of question

Generally, there are six tasks or questions in the listening exam. Make sure to practice well in all of them and familiarise yourself with the difficulty level of the questions.

Improve your Vocabulary

The recordings you will listen to may have all sorts of speakers. Some might have a good vocabulary, and others might be average. So, your task is to improve your vocabulary to make sure that you don’t have to dwell on one word and worry yourself with thinking about its meaning.

Practice listening and writing answers

You only have 30 minutes to listen to four recordings. This means that you won’t have much time to listen to the recordings again and again. So, take a practice test to improve listening skills and find the answers at home to assess the level of difficulty.

Differentiate between essential and non-essential

Among other IELTS listening tips, build a habit of differentiating between essential and non-essential. This means you need to listen to enough recordings and attempt answers to understand what is vital while listening to a recording and what is not. While giving the exam, this will help finish the test on time without wasting time on noting down non-essential information.

IELTS Listening Tips for Test Day

Now comes exam day, and it is here that all your practice will be implemented. So, as you give the exam, make sure to follow these IELTS listening tips.

Use abbreviations

While giving the exam, you will have to write the answers on a rough sheet simultaneously. So, don’t use full words and sentences. Use abbreviations and short sentences to the extent that you can understand them later while transferring the answers. You can also write down the type of work that will come here. For instance, write N for noun, V for verb, etc.


This might be difficult, but you must concentrate on listening and answering in the exam. One of the things candidates do is that they tend to go back and forth while listening just to listen to one sentence again. But this is counterproductive. Instead, leave it for now and concentrate on the rest of the part for now. You can get it while reviewing the answers at the end.

Ignore the unknown words

Even though this is not one of the ideal IELTS listening tips you would want to hear, it works. Ignore the words you don’t know the meaning of. What if that word does not have any importance with reference to the context of the questions.

Transfer Answers Correctly

You will get 10 minutes to transfer the answer to the final answer sheet. Take care that you are transferring them correctly and pay attention to the spelling and grammar. Misspelt words will not be marked, and you will lose marks, even if the answer is right.

IELTS Listening Question Types

There are six types of tasks and questions you will encounter in the exam. Now the above-listed IELTS listening tips must be understood and implemented to answer these six tasks.

  1. Multiple Choice Questions: MCQs in IELTS consists of a question followed by three possible answers. Sometimes there are more options than this, so you need to understand the answer clearly. 
  2. Matching: After listening to the recording, you are supposed to match some numbered items with the ones given on the question sheet. The criteria to match the answers is given in the question paper.
  3. Labelling: Here, you must label items on a given structure. It can be a building, a map, a diagram, etc.
  4. Complete the Summary: In this task, you can be asked to complete the flowchart, forms, notes, or table. The completion will be connected to the audio, so make sure to listen to every part carefully.
  5. Complete the Sentence: From the given sentences, you need to complete them with a word or a number. The missing answer will be embedded in the recording.
  6. Short answers: At last, there are short questions that you need to answer by using the information given in the recording.

Tips To Boost Your Reading

Your ability to read and understand the question for the listening exam is also crucial to getting a good score. Reading is one of the important IELTS listening tips because your ability to understand what is asked will help you complete the exam on time.

  • Develop Speed Reading: This will help you with IELTS writing, reading, and listening. Speed reading means you need to build the habit of reading the content quickly and find what is needed to give the answer.
  • Locate the keywords: As you are reading a question or a paragraph in the exam, try to find out the main keyword or the main subject.
  • Practice Reading: Similar to the IELTS listening tips where you must listen to different recordings to understand the context better and read IELTS-level content repeatedly.


These IELTS listening tips will help you prepare well for the exam and build the perfect understanding on how to give the exam. Both before the exam and during the exam, you need to focus on the core skills that are improving your ability to listen. The more time you will spend implementing these tips, the better you will get at giving the exams and scoring high.


1. Can I rewind the recording to listen again? 

Ans: Yes, the teacher can allow you to listen to a recording 3-4 times, but you shouldn’t do so. It is counterproductive. Rewinding the recording will waste your time, and as a result, you will miss out on other questions.

2. Can I skip questions? Do blank answers invite negative marks?

Ans: You can skip any question you want to, but we recommend against it. Skipping a question means you will surely lose marks. However, the IELTS writing exam does not have negative markings. So, who knows, your guess might work.

3. How can I score 9 in listening?

Ans: Getting a high score of 9 on this exam is not difficult especially when a lot of students have already achieved this score. If you follow the above-given IELTS listening tips and practice well, scoring 9 is possible.

4. How is the IELTS listening exam marked?

Ans: Only certified markers check the exam, and these checkers are monitored for their ability to do the same and under reliability testing. Every answer sheet is also analysed by Cambridge Assessment English.

Know more about IELTS

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Manisha Angre

Experienced IELTS prep trainer and education management industry veteran. Specializes in public speaking, international education, market research, mentoring, and management.

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