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IELTS Listening: Three things that can go wrong

Most people find the Listening test more stressful than the Reading test. That’s because when you are reading, you have the texts in front of you and you can refer to them more than once. When you are listening, if you miss an answer, it’s gone — and because you only hear the recording once, you can never get it back. So you need to work out some strategies in advance.

1. Make notes before you listen

Imagine that you are listening for the answer to Question 3, and you suddenly hear the answer to Question 6. This means you have been focusing so hard on one question that you have missed not only that one, but two more!

One way to avoid this is to make notes on the question paper as you listen. Don’t worry if your notes are untidy; the important thing is not to get left behind. At the end, you have ten minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet (at which time you do need to be neat and tidy).

The key to doing well in the Listening test is to make it a two-stage process. First listen and make notes, then transfer your answers to the answer paper.

2. Be accurate

In the Listening test, you need to be very precise when answering the questions. For example, let’s say the question paper asks you to complete the phrase ‘in the…’ and the answer is ‘morning’. When you write the information on the answer sheet, only ‘morning’ will be marked correct. If you write ‘the morning’ or ‘in the morning’ you will not be given a point (despite the fact that you know the answer).

3. If in doubt, guess

If you’re not sure of the answer, it’s important to guess. There are two reasons for this:

  • You do not lose points for having the wrong answer, so there is no risk.
  • Leaving spaces can get you into trouble as you might write a correct answer in the wrong place later.

Finally, make sure that Test Day is not the first time you do an IELTS Listening test. Try to do at least four or five practice tests in advance.

Incidentally, these three ideas were submitted by IELTS teachers to Clarity’s IELTS Tips app which is available free of charge on your phone, here.

4 comments

  1. Vinu says:

    This article is useful for IELTS test takers. I feel listening test needs more memory power to store information while the speaker is talking. Looks like it is the memory test rather than listening test because we need to process same words as is.

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