Home » IELTS Listening: Nine frequently asked questions

IELTS Listening: Nine frequently asked questions

Here are just a few of the questions candidates have asked us about the Listening test. You may have wondered yourself… Read on for the answers.

1. I would like to know: would my answer be marked wrong if I write each and every letter of word as capital; for example there is blank in which I have to write seventeen and I write it as SEVENTEEN.
According to IELTS Listening Advice from IELTS, “You may write your answers in lower case or capital letters.”

2. What are the differences between the Academic and General Training Listening tests?
There is no Academic Listening or General Training Listening — there is only one Listening test. There are, however, different papers in the Reading and Writing tests.

3. Can I write my answers in short forms / acronyms?
No. Abbreviations will not be accepted. So if the answer is, for example, New England, then don’t simply write NE.

4. What happen if I spell a word wrongly?
You don’t get the mark. It’s as simple as that. There will be no half-a-mark deduction. However, answers in the Listening test rarely involve long and difficult words.

5. Can I choose which variety of English to be included in the Listening test? Accent X is really difficult to understand!
Unfortunately, you can’t. And IELTS Listening tests always involve more than one accent, with varieties including Received Pronunciation, General American, etc. It is therefore a good idea to practise not just from one source, but instead multiple.

6. I am afraid of the answers with numbers — I don’t know if I should write them as word or figures!
Either will work nicely: 2 or two.

7. Will I have the question paper in front of me while listening?
Yes, you will. Listen carefully and note down the answers quickly in the appropriate slot. You will need to write your final answers more clearly on the answer paper.

8. Can I write during the pauses between section and section?
Yes, these are your golden opportunities to highlight the keywords and to get a gist of what the recording will be about. It is not an exaggeration to say that how you use these pauses will decide the band score you will get in the end.

9. What are the differences amongst the four sections?
The first two sections are about using the English language to get by in a English-speaking country. It can be about anything, ranging from getting a call from a car dealership to booking a restaurant table. The second section mostly involves a floor plan or a map which you will need to study carefully. The third and fourth sections are primarily related to academic subjects, with the last one generally harder than the rest.


  1. Maia Bashirova says:

    Hello. I have a question regarding the time given to first see the question before the recording is played. For example, if I finish answering a certain set of questions, say Questions 1-5, and I am very positive about my answers and do not need to check them, can I flip the page to the next set of questions (for example QUestions 6-10 that are located on the next page of the booklet) during the time when it says “now you have half a minute to check your answers”. Can I do that?

    Thank you!

    • Sure you can do that Maia, I don’t see why not. If you are feeling positive about an answer, do not dwell on it. In fact, use those extra seconds to highlight keywords in the next section and familiarise yourself with those upcoming questions. It will work wonders!

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