IELTS listening band score

Updated on: Sep 12, 2023

The IELTS is a standard exam to assess the candidate’s fluency in the English language. The assessment is widely recognised as proof of English proficiency in over 11,000 educational institutions across the globe. The IELTS exam contains four sections that analyse and determine the fundamental language skills of the candidate. Your performance is evaluated, and the assessment provides your scores in bands. Let’s look in detail at the IELTS listening band score.

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IELTS listening section: An overview

IELTS full formInternational English Language Testing System
Conducted byBritish Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English
No. of parts in the listening section4
No. of questions in each listening part10
Total no. of questions40
Total raw score40
IELTS listening band score range0-9
Duration (in minutes)30
Is the syllabus the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?Yes

Data updated as of June 2023

IELTS listening section: Key takeaways

Total no. of questions: 40

Total duration: 30 minutes

  • The IELTS listening section consists of 40 questions split into four parts. The exam is adaptive; that is, the difficulty level of the assessment depends on your performance.
  • The section consists of four pre-recorded monologues or conversations you should listen to before answering the questions. The tasks are the same for the IELTS Academic and General Training versions.
  • The voices in the recordings can have different accents, like British, American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand. You can listen to the recordings only once, so ensure to take note down the key points for answering the questions.

Also read: IELTS Exam Syllabus 2023

IELTS listening section syllabus 2023

The IELTS listening section determines your ability to listen and understand the ideas and opinions in the conversation. It is essential to improve your listening skills and understand the tasks you likely encounter during the exam.

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Questions to expect in the IELTS listening section

Sentence completion

The question contains sentences that summarise the recording. You must fill the gap with the appropriate word, number, or phrase from the listening text. Sentence completion tasks identify your ability to determine the critical information from the audio.

Short answer questions

You should write a short answer relevant to the information obtained from the listening text. Stick to the word limit and other essential requirements while answering the questions.

Matching sentence endings

The questions require you to match a list of sentences with the correct options based on the audio. Matching determines your ability to understand and implement the information in the listening text.

Plan, map, or diagram labelling

Based on the listening text, you should fill in the missing answers in a diagram, map, or plan. This task evaluates your ability to represent visual data from the given audio.

Multiple choice questions (MCQs)

You should choose the correct option from the given list of possible answers. MCQs analyse your ability to acquire detailed knowledge and understand the overall idea of the audio.

Form, note, table, flowchart, or summary completion

You should complete the missing components with words or numbers you hear in the listening text. The questions can be a form, a note, a table, a flowchart, or a summary based on the listening text.

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Recordings to expect in the IELTS listening section

  • A conversation between two people (a discussion about weather or travel)
  • A monologue (a speech about a local region)
  • A monologue on an academic topic (a lecture)
  • A conversation between a group of people (a discussion about a project between a professor and students)

Also read: 7 quick IELTS tricks and tips to score high

IELTS listening band score

The IELTS listening section contains 40 questions, where each question carries one mark. This score is known as the raw score. The final result converts the raw score into a nine-band scale.

IELTS listening band score

Raw score (out of 40)Band score

Data updated as of June 2023

IELTS listening band score: What do they mean?

IELTS band scoreScore description

Expert user

Candidate has full operational command and is fluent in the language


Very good user

Candidate is fluent in the language except for the occasional inaccuracies


Good user

Candidate can handle complex situations but cannot understand concepts in some situations


Competent user

Candidate has effective command of the language and can understand some reasonably complex concepts


Modest user

Candidate has partial command of the language but makes mistakes while expressing ideas


Limited user

Candidate has basic competence and finds it difficult to use complex language


Extremely limited user

Candidate can only understand and express general concepts


Intermittent user

Candidate can only express basic words, phrases and information in familiar situations 



Candidate has no command of the language except for a very few words and phrases

0Did not attempt the test

Data updated as of June 2023

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Best tips to prepare for the IELTS listening section

  • Listen to and familiarise yourself with different accents: The IELTS listening section includes various accents, like British, American, Australian, or Canadian. Practice listening to recordings in different accents to develop your understanding and improve your listening skills.
  • Practice listening: Make sure to listen to audio materials. Ensure to focus on understanding the main ideas and details, and take notes while listening. This will help you stay focused and understand the audio more effectively.
  • Enhance your vocabulary: Reading English texts, listening to English podcasts or videos, and using vocabulary-building resources can improve your vocabulary to a great extent.
  • Practice with test materials: Familiarise yourself with the IELTS listening section by practising with sample tests. You can find official IELTS practice materials or online test resources to prepare for the assessment.

Also read: How to crack IELTS in 3 months: Tips and strategies

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Frequently asked questions

What is 30 out of 40 in IELTS listening?

A raw score of 30 on the IELTS listening test is equivalent to a band score of 7.0.

What is 37 out of 40 in IELTS listening?

An IELTS listening score of 37 will give you a band score of 8.5.

How can I improve my listening in IELTS?

Here are some of the best tips to improve and prepare for your IELTS listening test.

  • Listen to and familiarise yourself with different accents
  • Practice listening
  • Enhance your vocabulary
  • Practice with test materials

Is IELTS listening fast?

The listening texts in the IELTS exam can sometimes be fast, and some candidates find it difficult to understand and note down the key ideas and details. So ensure that you prepare well with enough practice for the listening test.

Why is listening difficult in IELTS?

Candidates might find the IELTS listening section difficult due to various reasons. Exposure to different accents and complex and fast speech can be challenging, but with enough preparation and practice, one can ace the exam in no time.