Exams Know-how

IELTS Listening Test 2023: Format, Pattern, Syllabus, Question Types & More

Kashyap Matani

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 that big companies across the world recognise active listening as a skill. Therefore, IELTS aspirants must adapt to that mindset, take active listening seriously and target to achieve an impressive IELTS Listening band score.

In this article, we will explain in detail the constituents of the IELTS listening practice test. Let’s get started! 

Table of Contents

What is the IELTS Listening Test? 

The IELTS Listening General and Academic section assess a candidate’s ability to comprehend and follow the development of ideas, understand details of information, and tackle varying opinions/ attitudes of the speakers. The other three sections included in the IELTS exam are Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

For a candidate whose native language isn’t English and who does not have listening skills, understanding the British accent could be difficult. However, candidates familiar with the English language and with the skills to listen and understand English could find this IELTS section the easiest. 

However, before beginning your IELTS Listening preparation, a candidate must understand the types of English questions in IELTS Listening section, pattern, format, etc.

Guide to Prepare for IELTS


30 minutes

Number of questions


Number of audio recordings


Marks per question


Mode of examination 

Online or on paper


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

IELTS Listening Test Format 

In the IELTS Listening General section, a candidate will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write their answers to a series of questions. The recordings include the following conversations: 

  • Recording 1 – a conversation between two people in a daily chat social context.
  • Recording 2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, like a speech about local facilities, etc.
  • Recording 3 – a conversation among up to four people set in an educational or training context, like a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or two people discussing a colony’s condition.
  • Recording 4 – a monologue on an academic subject, for example, a university lecture.

Assessors will look for your ability to listen and grasp the written information. Note that all the subjects in your study abroad education involve the English language; therefore, it is critical for a student to understand it. 

Further, the test includes four parts with 10 questions in each. The questions are designed with such an approach that the listener can answer in the same sequence as heard in the audio. The IELTS Listening general section is for 40 minutes, and 10 minutes to transfer the answers with a total of 40 questions. 

Types of IELTS Exams

To begin your preparation and achieve your targeted IELTS listening band score, look at the amazing mock tests given in the video below. 

Types of Questions in IELTS Listening 

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

  • Multiple Choice

Under these types of questions, the candidates are given 3 options to choose from. Sometimes, they are also asked to select two or more right answers. Here, the IELTS test taker may be required to have a detailed understanding of specific points or an overall understanding of the critical/major points of the listening text.

  • Matching

This is one of the other Listening IELTS question types. The test taker's 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. 

  • Plan, Map, Diagram Labeling

These questions tickle a candidate’s visual thinking. Your sense of spatial understanding and directional senses is interpreted using these question types.

  • Form, Note, Table, Flow-Chart, Summary Completion

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

  • Sentence Completion

Here, the test takers are required to read a set of given sentences summarising key information from the complete listening text or through one part of it. The candidates will then have to fill a gap in each sentence using information listened to in the text. These questions recognise the cause and effect of situations and cater to the sentence completion questions. Although, as discussed earlier, stick to the word count that’s been asked for.

  • Short-Answer Questions

Here, the test takers will have to listen to the given information and write a short answer using the same information. This measures a candidate’s ability to pick concrete facts. 

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

IELTS Exam Fees

Now you know the types of English questions in IELTS. Developing and mastering active hearing skills is the key to cracking the IELTS listening test. Next, let’s look closely at a few handy books to improve your IELTS Listening band score.

Test Material to Prepare for IELTS Listening

Following are various test materials to prepare for the IELTS General Listening test. 

  • Top Books: Pick from these books with amazing IELTS Listening Topics for preparation. 
  • 15 Days’ Practice For IELTS Listening (Book + CD) – check PDF
  • Official IELTS Practice Materials – Check PDF
  • Barron's IELTS Superpack – Check PDF
  • IELTS Websites/ APPS: A candidate can explore the following IELTS preparation website and apps for the IELTS Listening section. Here, you will find numerous listening topics for IELTS preparation. 
  • IELTS Buddy
  • IELTS Mentor
  • IELTS Test Preparation Course (Magoosh)
  • Free IELTS Online Course (British Council)
  • IELTS Prep App
  • English Radio IELTS/TOEFL

There are various free IELTS Listening practice tests on IELTS British Council and more. 

How to Send IELTS Scores to Universities?

Next, let’s explore a few tips and tricks to ace your IELTS Listening section.

How to Improve the Listening Skill in IELTS?

These tips, if followed properly, can help you ace the Listening General section. 

  • 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.

  • Watch Various Movies: The IELTS Listening section tests your English understanding with multiple dialects, accents, and an array of unfamiliar words. Watching movies hailing from different English-speaking countries of the world will help you. This will help you experience a familiar sense of listening while taking the final test. 
  • 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. But learn to pick and note the critical information. 

  • 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. 


As an aspirant intending to give a shot at IELTS, always consider 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 certainly score well in the IELTS listening exam when you consistently practice active listening. Also, gear up for some effective Writing, voracious Reading and persuasive Speaking; understand the IELTS exam pattern and syllabus thoroughly to prepare well and be an overall winner in the exam.

Despite having a basic awareness of the exam, aspirants still end up with many crucial questions. If you, too, are one, connect with our expert counsellors for taking guidance on IELTS or any other step in your study abroad journey like profile building, university application, visa application, scholarships/loans, etc. How? Subscribe to Yocket Premium now!


Also Read: 

IELTS Coaching in Gwalior

IELTS Coaching in Thane

IELTS Coaching in Hyderabad

IELTS Coaching in Chandigarh

IELTS Coaching in Bhopal

IELTS Coaching in Navi Mumbai

Frequently Asked Questions about the IELTS Listening Test

Are the IELTS listening tests difficult?

Are sample questions available for the IELTS listening test?

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

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

How are IELTS listening scores converted to a band? 

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