How to prepare for the IELTS listening test

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Many students think that the listening paper for IELTS is the easiest, but it involves a number of skills and the listening paper doesn't leave much time for thinking.

So what can you do before the actual day of the exam? Well, first of all listen to English speakers!

Find audio and podcasts in English

With the internet you have the chance to listen to a wide range of programmes and this is probably the best thing you can do. There are podcasts available from a range of sources that cover a wide range of topics.

Choose a few that you would like to listen to, do not just pick one at random or listen to something you don’t find interesting. Check out podcasts on your smartphone or online and get listening!

You will find a great selection of podcasts in English via the links below:

Podcasts from the BBC

Podcasts from the Guardian

British podcasts selected by Buzzfeed

Practice listening for IELTS

For the test you need to do test style listening practice and start looking closely at the instructions and questions.  Before listening to the recordings you are given a few seconds to read them and it’s always good practice to underline or circle the important words in the question.

Look at this example question and see if you can identify the key words:

You will hear an interview with Margaret Smith who sailed around the world last year.

Put a tick next to the correct answer

 Margaret wanted to do this trip to;

  • impress her friends
  • be the first woman to sail around the world alone
  • achieve a personal goal

If you highlight the words you are focusing more and ready to pick them out when mentioned in the recording.

A problem many candidates face is that they often get stuck on one question and don’t move on to the next question instead of leaving it. It’s important to continue and not get caught on one question. It might mean not answering a question, but remember to move on as the recording is only played once.

One last piece of advice is to make sure you write the answers correctly when transferring them across to the answer sheet. You have 10 minutes to do this and it’s important that the spelling is accurate. If you don’t know an answer make a guess, points are not deducted for incorrect answers.

So make sure you:

  • Listen to lots of recordings and podcasts in the days before the test
  • In the exam, try and keep up with the recording, don’t get stuck on one question
  • Be accurate when transferring your answers to the answer sheet

More IELTS advice from Martin Thomas

Martin teaches Business English and IELTS preparation in the IH London Executive Centre.

Upgrade your IELTS

With Sona Lisa Bose, he has written and published an iBook: Upgrade Your IELTS: Writing Task 2, Using the Right Vocabulary

This iBook uses a mixture of explanations, exercises and answer guides, to help you understand what examiners are looking for, and give you key strategies which you can use in your preparation and during the exam.

Featuring interactive quizzes, presentations and videos, this book is designed to help make your exam preparation more dynamic, challenging and useful.

IELTS preparation guides

We have more tips and advice to help you get the IELTS score you need:

Find out more about the IELTS exam and what it can be used for here:

IELTS at International House London

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IH London is one of the largest IELTS test centre in the UK, with tests taking place three Saturdays each month throughout the year.

Our language school also offers IELTS preparation courses to help candidates reach their desired IELTS band.

3 Comments

SuperKarl

SuperKarl

February 16, 2016 03:32

Oh and I just found out this article from him, too. http://www.ieltspodcast.com/listening/031-a-little-trick-examiners-do-in-the-ielts-listening-exam/ It's about a little trick Examiners do in the IELTS Listening Exam. Great podcast about Listening exam!

View all comments by SuperKarl

SuperKarl

SuperKarl

February 16, 2016 03:16

Wow! Great compilation of podcasts and IELTS articles here! Thanks for compiling them all! You may have forgotten IELTS Podcast from Ben Worthington. His podcasts are interviews from successful IELTS takers and teachers with lots of tips. I learned a lot from him. His articles about IELTS are also bombs! Check him out at http://www.ieltspodcast.com/ Great preparation for IELTS takers!

View all comments by SuperKarl

July 22, 2015 06:57

I put together a list of podcasts which are particularly useful for IELTS students: https://independentenglish.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/ielts-friendly-podcasts/ There is also a student guide to podcasts in general here: http://independentenglish.wordpress.com/podcasts
Useful tips here :)
Sandy

View all comments by Sandy Millin

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