Everything you should know about the IELTS Listening section

Updated on: May 20, 2024

The International English Language Test System (IELTS) is a standard assessment for international students to assess their fluency in the English language. IELTS is widely recognised and is accepted as proof of English language proficiency in over 11,000 educational institutions across the globe. The exam contains four sections that analyse and determine the fundamental language skills of the candidate. Let’s look in detail at the IELTS listening section.

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IELTS listening section: An overview

No. of parts4
No. of questions in each part10
Total no. of questions40
Total raw score40
Duration (in minutes)30
Is the syllabus the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?Yes

IELTS listening section: Key takeaways

The IELTS listening section consists of 40 questions split into four parts. You are required to complete the section in 30 minutes. The difficulty level of the exam increases as you proceed through the exam.

You will listen to four pre-recorded monologues or conversations before answering the questions. The tasks in this section are the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

The voices can have different accents like British, American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand. You can hear the recordings only once, so make sure to take note of the key points and ideas for answering the questions.

IELTS listening section: Questions to expect

  • Sentence completion
  • Short answer questions
  • Multiple choice questions (MCQs)
  • Matching sentence endings
  • Plan, map, or diagram labelling
  • Form, note, table, flow-chart, or summary completion

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IELTS listening section: Recordings to expect

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

IELTS listening section syllabus 2023

The IELTS listening section analyses the candidate’s ability to listen and understand the idea and facts of the conversation. While preparing to sharpen your listening skills, knowledge about the tasks you would likely encounter during the exam is essential.

Sentence completion

The question contains sentences that summarise the recording. Based on your listening skills, you must fill the gap with the appropriate word, number, or phrase from the listening text. Sentence completion tasks help identify your ability to find the key information from the audio.

Short answer questions

You are required to write a relevant short answer with the help of the information obtained from the listening text. Make sure to look out for word limits and other essential requirements and adhere to them.

Multiple choice questions (MCQs)

You must choose the correct option from the given list of possible answers to the question. MCQs evaluate your ability to have detailed knowledge and overall understanding of the listening text.

Matching sentence endings

You should match a list of sentences with the correct options based on the audio. Matching analyses your understanding and implementation of the information provided in the listening text.

Plan, map, or diagram labelling

You will be given a diagram, map, or plan and are required to fill in the missing components based on the listening text. This task evaluates your ability to represent visual data from an audio monologue.

Form, note, table, flowchart, or summary completion

You must fill in 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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IELTS listening band score

Raw score (out of 40)Band score

Pro preparation tips for the IELTS listening section

  • Understand the test format. It eases the preparation for the IELTS listening test.
  • Create a study plan. Making a study schedule streamlines your preparation and helps you achieve your study goals.
  • Improve your listening skills by listening to podcasts and watching films and TV shows. Understanding different accents will give you an upper hand during the exam.
  • Make use of study materials available online. IELTS listening practice tests can give you a better understanding of the syllabus.

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Frequently asked questions

How can you practice IELTS listening?

There are several IELTS listening practice tests available online. Make use of these materials to get a better understanding of the section and perform well in the exam.

Is listening hard in IELTS?

IELTS listening is an easy section of the exam, but students sometimes find it difficult as the listening texts include various accents we come across in daily life. You can ace the test in no time with regular practice and preparation.

What is 32 out of 40 in IELTS listening?

The IELTS listening band score for a raw score of 32 is 7.5.

What is the difference between raw scores and band scores?

The raw score in the IELTS exam refers to the number of questions you have answered correctly. This score is converted into the band score provided by IELTS.

IELTS listening band score

Raw score (out of 40)Band score