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IELTS Listening Preparation 2024 - Tips, Format, Sections

IELTS Listening Preparation 2024 - Tips, Format, Sections

Edited By Team Careers360 | Updated on Jun 23, 2024 05:09 PM IST | #IELTS

The IELTS listening preparation is considered the most important aspect of the IELTS exam, as many of the students aspire to score a minimum of band 8. A very high IELTS listening band score can enhance the candidate's overall IELTS band score. Students acquiring Band 8 usually get good scholarships from universities and on the other hand the working professionals or the candidates aspiring for a permanent residency in many countries meet their eligibility criteria if they score so high. The candidates are advised to engage themselves in a lot of IELTS listening practice tests to secure a very high IELTS listening test score.

In this article, we shall discuss the IELTS listening preparation tips and tricks so that help you score the desired band. For this, it is important for you to know the structure of the exam and the strategies to solve each type of question.

Before we start with the strategies, we all need to know that both General and Academic IELTS have a similar listening test. It is also marked in the same way. Hence, we recommend that IELTS listening preparation be done online and you do not have to travel to far-off places to go through any training. Always remember to follow strategies and practice well before the exam will ensure a high band score.

IELTS listening test structure

There are four sections in the IELTS listening module and each comes with different types of questions. Let us discuss all in detail.

IELTS listening preparation - section one

  • The audio played in this section is a conversation between two people and is very basic. The conversation will normally be for making a hotel booking or renting an apartment, You will have to listen to specific information to fill in the blanks such as name, phone number, or particular descriptions according to what is played in the audio.
  • This section has 10 questions.
  • These 10 questions are subdivided into 2 parts.
  • Before the audio begins, you will get 30 seconds to read questions 1-5 /6, post these thirty seconds the audio starts and you need to answer the questions as you hear the audio.
  • Remember that the audio is played only once and it is never repeated.
  • After you finish the first set of questions, you again get 30 seconds to read the next questions, that is questions up till question number 10.
  • After 30 seconds, the audio starts and you have to answer the questions as you hear.
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Now, let us check the strategies to score high in Section - One of IELTS Listening Module

IELTS preparation online - strategies for listening section one

  • Read the instructions carefully and answer the questions according to the instructions, the instructions will let you know the number of words you can write to attempt the answer.
  • Remember that writing beyond the word limit will not get you scores, instead your right answer will be marked wrong.
  • This section will normally mention a name as an answer, so you need to carefully hear the name and the spelling the speaker spells for the name, remember that the names are in native English so you need to practice to hear carefully and write down the spellings.
  • This section will also make you write numbers, in the form of phone numbers or a number in the address, while it's easy to understand numbers in the audio, you need to be careful in listening to the number zero, as they do not call it as a zero but will call it as the letter “o”.
  • You need to carefully read the questions in the thirty seconds to analyze and guess correctly as to what the answer could be.
  • Remember to listen to the end to come to the answer, especially at the end of the section as the discussion would have a lot of distractions before reaching the accurate answer.
  • You will have to practice this section regularly to gain a high score. We recommend you listen to BBC documentaries or podcasts.
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IELTS listening preparation - section two

  • This section of IELTS is a monologue, so there is only one speaker that you need to understand.
  • The audio in this section will normally talk about a map, plan, or diagram.
  • You are expected to note the directions, mention where a specific place is, and what something is made of.
  • You have to be focused while reading the questions in the given 30 seconds and also be able to guess what the answer could be.
  • This section is also divided into parts and in each part and you get 30 seconds to read the questions and then while you listen to the audio, you have to answer.
  • Underline the keywords in the questions when you get 30 seconds to read them.
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IELTS preparation online - strategies to solve map-based questions

IELTS listening section two normally has map-based questions, so let us follow the given strategies to solve them accurately.

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Utilize the 30 seconds that are given to read the questions effectively so that you are able to predict the answer, in terms that could either be a noun or direction.
  • Underline Key Words - This step can be done while you are reading the questions or afterward. For the Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling question type, this step will be minimal, because there will not be many words.
  • Pay Attention to Directions- you should pay attention to direction words that are used when discussing images and maps.
  • While the audio goes on, move your pencils along with the directions that the audio gives.
  • Practice well.

Directional words to practice - high bands in map-based IELTS listening question

  • NORTH, At / On the top of, To the north of, Above, Slightly north of
  • South, At the bottom of, Below, Slightly South of
  • West, To the west of, To the left of, left-hand side
  • East, To the east of, To the right of, Right-hand side, Slightly east of
  • On the far side
  • In the Southwest/ Northwest/ Northeast / Southeast
  • In the middle of/ In the center of
  • opposite/ In front of
  • clockwise/ Anti-clockwise
  • A bit beyond
  • Right past
  • Before/After
  • Adjoining
  • Enter through/via
  • Runs through
  • Runs Alongside

We recommend that you make sentences with each directional word given above to excel in using maps and also following the directions. If a candidate wishes to improve their IELTS listening band scores and learn other important IELTS dictation words, they can refer to the 100+ IELTS dictation words article written by IELTS experts.

IELTS listening preparation - section three

  • The third section of IELTS listening is an academic conversation between 2-4 people and usually is between people with different accents.
  • The audio will follow the same structure of 30 seconds like sections 1 and 2.
  • Here, you will be expected to understand the conversation between people talking about certain facts, expressing their viewpoints, and even discussing something academic in nature.
  • This section is most likely to have multiple-choice questions.

IELTS preparation online - strategies to solve multiple-choice questions

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Read the questions and identify what is exactly asked.
  • Underline the keywords in the question and also in the options.
  • Make educated guesses of the answer.
  • Although the questions are asked in a sequence, the options given here are not in sequence.
  • You will hear the audio talking about all the options, you have to eliminate the wrong ones by listening till the end and avoiding all sorts of distractions in the discussion.
  • You have to manage time, in case you miss any particular question, move to the next and stay focused.
  • Understand the connecting words used like however, but, nevertheless as they mean a contradiction.
  • Practice well.

IELTS listening preparation - section four

  • This is the most difficult part of the IELTS listening test.
  • It has 10 questions like all other sections, however, you get only 30 seconds to read all the 10 questions, so, you need to be more focused.
  • It is a monologue, an academic lecture given by a native speaker, the lecture is similar to a university lecture.
  • The type of questions are mostly completion type.

Strategies to score high band score - section 4 - IELTS preparation online

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Quickly skim all the questions, underlying the keywords as you have only 30 seconds.
  • Follow the audio carefully, it will move step by step.
  • This section is academic and hence you will hear a lot of words you do not know, it's okay because you just have to focus on the keywords and reach the answer avoiding all sorts of distractions.
  • The best way is to make notes as you hear, so it becomes easy to relate to the exact answer.
  • Stay focused on the words that are near the blanks.
  • Practice well, you should hear a lot of academic content on authenticated podcasts.

While you practice well for the IELTS exam, we recommend that you stay focused and give yourself an English environment so that you are well-versed in the language.

  • You should aim high and listen to authenticated BBC documentaries and YouTube channels of native English speakers.
  • Make a list of academic topics and listen to academic documentaries so that you are able to enhance your listening skills.
  • Listening to authenticated material will help you learn the correct pronunciation of words and also enrich vocabulary which will be helpful in other IELTS modules.

IELTS listening practice tips

  • Before the recording begins, carefully read the questions for every section at the beginning. This will make it easier for the candidate to listen to the audio and find the answers. The candidates can do the same during their listening test practices before the actual examination to make this habitual.
  • It is preferable to read the questions for the next section after finishing the current one rather than worrying about the last section. This can help the candidates in their IELTS exam listening practice as well as on the final listening test.`
  • Be extremely mindful of word limits. If the instructions state to write no more than two words, then writing more than that will result in the candidate receiving no points for their response, even if part of the words were right..
  • While listening to the audio, cross out the options that don't apply. This helps the candidate to quickly search for the correct response. This habit must be developed by the candidate from the start of the IELTS listening test preparation.
  • If there are questions the candidate is unable to answer, leave them and move on to the next question. This will help the candidate to stay relaxed and calm. Try to answer those questions at the end, if the candidate has time. Panicking and writing inappropriate answers must be avoided during both IELTS preparation listening practice tests and the actual examination.

Additional tips on IELTS listening test

  • Before each recording starts, carefully read all the questions for that section. This will help you follow the recordings and find the answers easily.

  • Once you finish a section, you can proceed to read the questions for the next section.

  • Sometimes, you'll have a list of options to choose from. Answers may not necessarily be in the order you hear them; they could be alphabetically listed.

  • Pay attention to the word limits for each section. For example, if it says 'Write no more than two words', stick to this limit. Writing more could result in receiving no marks for that answer.

  • Be attentive and watch for key words or synonyms from the questions. This can help you identify the answer.

  • Listen carefully for words that indicate where you are in the recording, such as 'firstly', 'my next point', 'conclude'. These words help identify the relevant question.

  • While listening, eliminate options that don't fit to make finding the correct answer easier.

  • When mentioning dates in answers, remember different formats are acceptable (e.g., April 24, 24th April, 24 April).

  • If you're stuck on a question, skip it and return later if you have time. Avoid wasting time and causing unnecessary stress.

  • If taking the IELTS on paper, you have 10 minutes after the last recording ends to transfer answers from the Listening booklet to your answer sheet. Wait until all recordings are finished to transfer, as transferring between sections may cause you to miss important information about the next section of the test.

Types of questions asked in IELTS listening section

Question Type 1 – Multiple-choice
OverviewIn MCQs, the candidates will be given 3 options, A, B, and C. They will be asked to find the most suitable answer from the recording that is being played. Almost all of the listening IELTS practice tests available online have MCQ question samples in them.
What skills are required?This type of question tests various listening skills (such as detailed understanding) and the alertness of the candidate.
Question Type 2 – Matching
OverviewIn this type of question, the candidates are required to match the set of items in column A with the set of items in column B. Practising more IELTS listening practice sets can help the candidates ace this test.
What skills are required?This type of question tests the abilities of the candidates to understand the relationship between the different entities in a conversation.
Question Type 3 – Plan/map/diagram labelling
OverviewIn this type of question, the candidates are asked to complete labels on a visual which may be:

a diagram

a group of pictures

a plan

a map

The candidates should:

Choose the answers from a list given on the question paper and then write the correct corresponding letter on the answer sheet

Select words from the recording that a match into gaps provided on the question paper by following the words or letter limits specified on the question paper without changing any words or adding any extra words by their own.
Question Type 4 – Form/note/table/flow chart/summary completion
OverviewIn this type of question, the candidates are asked to fill or complete a part of the conversation given on the question paper. It can be

A form: This is used as a substitute for various information such as a name, place, date etc.

A set of notes: used to summarise the recording and establish a relationship between multiple concepts.

A table: used to summarise information which can be further subdivided into more categories, e.g. place/time/price

A flow chart: used to summarise the flow of events in a process, with the direction of the process represented by arrows.

The candidates must adhere to the word limits set by and answer the questions accordingly
What skills are required?The analytical and reasoning skills of the candidate are put to the test
Question Type 5 – Sentence completion
OverviewCandidates must read the question's sentences and highlight the key ideas to answer this kind of question. Each sentence will have a gap that they must fill in with information from the recording.

These types of questions are very frequent and are seen in almost every set of IELTS listening sections
What skills are required?This type of question focuses on the ability of the candidates to identify the pivotal information in a recording.
Question Type 6 – Short-answer questions
OverviewIn this type of question, the candidates have to read the question and write a short answer using information they have listened to from the recording.
What skills are required?This type of question focuses on their ability to pay attention to vital information presented in the recording such as facts, place names, prices or times, dates and famous anecdotes heard in the recording.

IELTS listening band score chart

IELTS listening score charts provide a clear and standardized way to assess and communicate a test taker's English proficiency. This clarity helps candidates understand their strengths and areas needing improvement. Also, The IELTS listening band score charts help candidates set realistic goals for their language proficiency. By seeing where they currently stand and where they need to be for their specific purposes (such as studying abroad or immigrating), candidates can focus their efforts effectively.

Number of correct answers

(Raw Score)

IELTS Listening

Band Score























Extracted from - IELTS IDP official website. Copyright © 2024 by IDP Education

IELTS test Preparation Books

Refer here for the most important IELTS listening preparation PDFs and essential IELTS listening preparation books to enhance the candidate’s IELTS listening preparation.


Download Links

IELTS Reading Practice Books

IELTS Writing Practice Books

IELTS Speaking Practice Books

IELTS Listening Practice Books

IELTS Preparation Tips 2024 Book

IELTS and TOEFL Vocabulary Guide Book

Some Other IELTS Listening Preparation Books

  1. The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS
  1. Cambridge IELTS 14 Academic Student’s Book with Answers with Audio
  1. Official IELTS Practice Materials

IELTS practice tests

The IELTS practice tests demand a big chunk of the candidate’s IELTS preparation and hence, they should put efforts into attempting various IELTS practice tests throughout their IELTS preparation journey.

IELTS listening practice tests

Expert IELTS listening tips coupled with extensive IELTS listening practice ensure success in the examination. Candidates can practice selected IELTS listening practice tests and much more from the below. The below practice tests designed by Careers360 has IELTS listening test with audio and answers necessary for enhancing the candidates overall IELTS listening skills.

IELTS Listening Mock Sets

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. Is there a penalty for incorrect answers in the IELTS listening section?

No, there is no penalty for incorrect answers in the IELTS listening section. It's better to make an educated guess than to leave a question blank. 

2. What should I do if I don't understand a word or phrase during the IELTS listening section?

If you encounter a word or phrase you don't understand, try to infer its meaning based on the context. Focus on understanding the overall message rather than getting stuck on individual words.

3. How can I improve my listening skills for the IELTS listening section?

To improve your listening skills, practice listening to a variety of English audio materials, such as podcasts, radio programs, and TED talks. Focus on understanding main ideas, supporting details, and vocabulary.

4. Can I listen to the recordings more than once during the IELTS listening section?

No, test-takers only have one opportunity to listen to each recording in the IELTS listening section. It's essential to listen carefully and take notes to answer the questions accurately.

5. Are headphones provided during the IELTS listening section?

Yes, test centers typically provide headphones for test-takers to use during the IELTS listening section.

6. Is it okay to have spelling errors?

No. The candidates must refrain from making spelling mistakes. This can severely impact their scores because often answers with spelling mistakes are not counted for final band score calculations.

7. How can I improve my listening band score?

The best way to improve the listening band score is through constant practice. The candidates must be involved in as much as IELTS preparation listening practice tests. They can also seek help from IELTS listening preparation online articles. The IELTS listening preparation of the candidate can also be enhanced by making IELTS listening practice a part of their daily routine. This can be achieved by listening to English movies, songs, podcasts, shows and audiobooks of different accents regularly.


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Questions related to IELTS

Have a question related to IELTS ?

As a first-year B.Com student aiming to pursue an MBA abroad, it's advisable to plan your IELTS exam strategically. Typically, candidates begin preparing for the IELTS around the end of their second year of undergraduate studies to allow sufficient time for language proficiency development and exam readiness by the time they complete their degree. Invicta Career Consultancy offers tailored guidance to help you plan your IELTS preparation timeline effectively, ensuring you meet the language requirements for MBA programs abroad. Their comprehensive support includes personalized strategies for exam preparation, application guidance, and navigating the admission process to top international universities, setting a solid foundation for your career aspirations in business management.


It is very highly unlikely to obtain a legitimate IELTS certificate without taking the exam. Any claims suggesting otherwise are likely scams. It is essential to take the exam through authorized testing centers to ensure the validity and credibility of the certificate.

Hope this helps you ,

Thank you

Choosing between the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests depends on your goals and English proficiency. Generally, the IELTS General Training is considered easier for those focused on work, immigration, or training programs, with its emphasis on everyday language in the Reading and Writing sections. In contrast, the IELTS Academic test is more challenging, featuring complex academic texts and tasks suitable for university admissions and higher education. For personalized guidance on selecting the right test and preparing effectively, consider consulting Invicta Career Consultancy, which offers comprehensive support including test preparation and tailored advice to help you achieve your English language proficiency goals.

Hello aspirant,

Opinions on the E-GMAT course vary. Some find it beneficial for improving GMAT skills, especially in verbal sections, while others may prefer different resources. It's essential to explore reviews, consider your learning style, and maybe try a trial or sample to see if it aligns with your preferences before making a decision.

So it all depends on your personal opinion.

Thank you

Hope this information helps you.

Many candidates ask whether their IELTS certificate is real or fake. To know if your IELTS test report is real or not, check the following points:

  • Check the certification stamp on the certificate if it matches the centre of registration and your selected IELTS test centre .

  • Visit the IDP IELTS official website after receiving the oft copy of your certificate via email to check whether it is available online and if it is valid.

  • Make sure that you receive the confirmation of your IELTS registration from the centre you registered. Also, check the login credentials to verify your IELTS results once the process is complete.

  • Collect the hard copy of the IELTS scorecard directly from the test centre once the results are announced.

  • Talk to the agent directly on the phone to verify his identity.

Verify all the above-mentioned points carefully to not get deceived by any fraud attempts.

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