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IELTS Listening Test 2021: Learn About IELTS Listening Test Format, Audio Recordings, Question Types And More

Yocket Editorial Team
IELTS Listening Test 2021: Learn About IELTS Listening Test Format, Audio Recordings, Question Types And More Image

Being a ‘good listener’ adds to your merit as an aspirant in the IELTS exam. The IELTS listening test is no game of Chinese Whisper. It is a challenging section of the IELTS exam where you’re expected to listen to every word carefully and then answer the questions accordingly. The reason why the IELTS listening test is so significant is because big companies across the world recognise active listening as a skill. Therefore, IELTS aspirants must adapt to that mindset, take active listening seriously and prepare well.

What is the IELTS Listening Test? 

The Listening section of IELTS exam assesses your ability to comprehend as well as follow the development of ideas, understand details of information, tackle varying opinions and also attitudes of the speakers. It is one amongst the 4 sections of the IELTS exam that you are evaluated on as an aspirant. The other three sections are Reading, Writing and Speaking.

Candidates of IELTS Academic Listening Test and the IELTS General Training test take the same IELTS listening task. The test involves tasks of listening to audios and answering questions accordingly. 

A Sneak Peek into the IELTS Listening Test


30 minutes

Number of questions


Number of audio recordings


Marks per question


Mode of examination 

Online or on paper


Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine band scale.

Ever felt confused between IELTS and TOEFL - Understand the difference between IELTS and TOEFL here!

Since the IELTS listening pattern comprises 40 questions based on 4 audio recordings, it is essential for aspirants to know about their exact nature.

Understanding the 4 Audio Recordings in IELTS Listening Section

The IELTS listening module is designed to test your ability to hear, grasp and articulate English. You are allowed to hear the recordings just once. The testing time for the same is 30 minutes overall. Thus, it is extremely important to PAY ATTENTION!  

What are the 4 Audio Recordings in IELTS Listening Section?

The 4 audio recordings that are a part of IELTS Listening section are:

  1. A two-people conversation

A conversation between two speakers set in an everyday setting. This can be a casual discussion or a formal conversation about making a plan or an arrangement. For instance, making a travel plan with a friend or discussing travel arrangements with an agent.

For this kind of recording, carefully listen to the details that are discussed, the description of words, and the topics of conversation. 

  1. A monologue (Social) 

A single-person oration set in an everyday backdrop. This can include speeches, narrations, commentaries etc. 

Pay attention to the setting, pointers presented for this type of audio recording. Make mental notes of who’s saying what and why.  

  1. A four-people conversation 

A conversation set in an academic backdrop of a university or a class. This conversation is set in between, at least four people. For instance, it can be between students from the same class or a teacher’s discussion with a few students. 

In a recording of this nature, keep an ear out to identify the views, discussions etc among the four people. You will have to closely pay attention to their characters, agreements, disagreements etc.   

  1. A monologue (Academic)

The last recording is a monologue based on an academic setup. You can expect a guest lecture audio or a talk about any subject. 

Listen to the lecture very carefully. Don’t doze off or ignore pointers that are presented to you like you probably would during college. This is a test lecture so PAY ATTENTION!

You are asked different questions in this section based on the recordings you hear. Now that you’re familiar with the 4 types of audio recordings, next thing to know is the ‘type’ of questions asked.

6 Types of IELTS Listening Questions that Aspirants Must Know

Let us learn about the six important types of IELTS Listening questions one by one.

  1. Multiple Choice

MCQs based on the conversations you’ll hear are posed. Select one or more answers, based on the question type.

  1. Matching

Your ability to understand the language and establish relationships and connections is tested by posing matching questions. Match the options provided to you with the apt connector and score a point. 

  1. Plan, Map, Diagram Labeling

These are the questions that tickle your visual thinking. Your sense of spatial understanding and directional senses is interpreted using these question types.  

  1. Form, Note, Table, Flow-Chart, Summary Completion

Processes, names or events etc can be posed to you through charts, tables etc. Make sure that you stick to EXACTLY the number you’re asked to write. You will lose out on marks if you exceed the limit of words. 

  1. Sentence Completion

Recognising the cause and effect of situations cater to the sentence completion questions. Although, as discussed earlier, stick to the word count that’s been asked for.  

  1. Short-Answer Questions

Fact-based questions are asked. For instance, the pricing or location, etc. 

Note: According to IELTS, contracted words will not be tested in the IELTS listening test. Also, hyphenated words are counted as single words.

Developing and mastering active hearing skills is the key to crack the IELTS listening test. Let's have a closer look at a few handy tips to improve your IELTS Listening section.

How to Improve the Listening Skill in IELTS?

  1. Listen to good podcasts

To strengthen your focus and avoid distracting yourself while listening, lend an ear to good podcasts regularly. This will help you develop and improve your listening skills.  

  1. Watch a variety of movies

The test puts your English understanding at a test with multiple dialects, accents and an array of unfamiliar words. Watching movies hailing from different English speaking countries of the world will help you. 

  1. Make quick & handy notes

As you have only one attempt at listening to the audio. It is important to learn to take necessary notes. This doesn’t mean that you go on to write everything down or jot down pointers for every line. 

  1. Run your eyes through the questions

Glance through the questions before jumping onto the audio. A fair idea of the types of questions will help you note pointers accordingly. 

Despite having a basic awareness about the exam, aspirants do end up with a bunch of questions that are crucial. The IELTS Listening test is no different. Therefore, have a look at some questions you might have too as an aspirant. 

Commonly Asked Questions about the IELTS Listening Test

Q. Is the IELTS listening test difficult?

Ans. The IELTS listening test is difficult if you don’t take up active listening seriously and consider it a skill that you must master. If, however, you are one of those people who consistently practice listening and attempt questions, you have nothing to worry about.

Q. Are sample questions available for the IELTS listening test?

Ans. Yes, sample questions are available for the IELTS listening test. The best source to find them is the official website of the British Council. You’ll have access to authentic questions there.

Q. What is the maximum time allotted to the listening section in IELTS?

Ans. You will be allowed 30 minutes to complete the IELTS listening section. You can listen to the recording just once. You are not given any additional time to just listen to the recordings.

Q. What is considered as an excellent score for the IELTS listening test?

Ans. If you are able to attempt 35 questions correctly, you will end up getting at least 35 marks. These marks when converted allow you to fall in the 8 band category. And that makes for an excellent score/band.

As an aspirant intending to give a shot at IELTS, always keep in mind the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is more leisurely whereas listening extracts meaning, creates interpretation and adds information to your long term memory. You will most certainly score well in the IELTS listening exam when you practice active listening consistently. Along with this, gear up for some effective Writing, voracious Reading and persuasive Speaking; understand the IELTS exam pattern and syllabus thoroughly to prepare well and emerge as an overall winner in the exam.

All the best for the IELTS Listening 2021!