We have collated the nine most frequently asked questions candidates have sent us about the IELTS Listening test. You will find these answers useful in the Listening section and other parts of the IELTS test too.
1. Using capital letters
Question: Would my answer be marked wrong if I write in capital letters, for example, writing ‘seventeen’ as ‘SEVENTEEN’?
Answer: According to the official guide from IELTS, ‘You may write your answers in lowercase or capital letters.’
2. Academic vs General Training
Q: What are the differences between the Academic and General Training Listening tests?
A: If you only look at the IELTS Listening test, there is no difference — there is only one Listening test. There are, however, different papers in the Reading and Writing tests.
3. Using acronyms
Q: Can I write my answers in short forms / acronyms?
A: Avoid them if you can. There are several acceptable abbreviations you can use in all parts of IELTS, such as 10am / 10 a.m., 100m, 5kg, amongst some others. In a few cases, even some well-known acronyms are allowed, such as UK, US and — yes — IELTS. However, to avoid losing marks, you should always try to write the full form of a word if you can spell them (correctly). So if the answer is, for example, New England, then don’t simply write ‘NE’.
Q: What happens if I spell a word wrongly?
A: You don’t get the mark. It’s as simple as that. There will be no half-a-mark deduction. Answers in the Listening test rarely involve long and difficult words but some candidates struggle with spelling names. You can try these exercises to practise and improve your spelling.
5. Listening to accents
Q: Can I choose which variety of English to be included in the Listening test? For example, I find Australian accents really difficult to understand!
A: Unfortunately, you can’t. And IELTS Listening tests always involve more than one accent, with varieties including Received Pronunciation (British), General American, etc. It is therefore a good idea to practise not just from one source, but instead multiple. If you want to improve your Listening and Speaking skills at the same time, take a look at Clear Pronunciation 1 and Clear Pronunciation 2, where you will hear a range of different accents from around the world.
6. Writing numbers
Q: I am afraid of the answers with numbers — I don’t know if I should write them as words or figures!
A: Either will work nicely: 2 or two.
7. Reading the question paper
Q: Will I have the question paper in front of me while listening?
A: If you are doing paper-based IELTS, then yes. First, listen carefully and note down the answers quickly in the appropriate slot. You will then be given time to write your final answers more clearly on the answer paper, at the end of each recording. If you are doing computer-delivered IELTS, then you will see the questions on the screen and answer them as you listen.
8. Writing in pauses
Q: Can I write during the pauses between section and section?
A: Yes, these are your golden opportunities to read ahead and highlight the keywords 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. Explaining the four sections
Q: What are the differences between the four sections?
A: The first two sections are about using the English language to get by in an English-speaking country. The first section can be about anything, ranging from getting a call from a car dealership to booking a restaurant table. The second section often 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.
Knowing the difference between these four sections is a good start. But to be fully prepared, you need to make sure you understand all the task types before you enter the exam hall.
Now you’ve read about commonly asked questions for the Listening module, why not read about seven common questions candidates have asked us about the Reading module.
Gathering as much information as you can about frequent mistakes, useful tips and helpful materials will help you with your overall IELTS band score. Take a shortcut and find tutorials, information and study guides at IELTSPractice.com
Will we get the 10 minutes transfer time in Listening test if we are writing a Computer Delivered Test?
no, you won’t! Because you type the answer directly into the answer area on the screen, there is no answer sheet.
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in a task which says no more then three words and or a number, if the recording says ”22nd of October”, will writing it as it is make it wrong? Is ‘nd’ considered as a separate word in an answer? Please clarify as the key said 22 October.
‘nd’ is not normally regarded as a separate word, as it only represents the ending of ‘twenty-second‘. In your case, writing ’22nd of October’ will be fine.
if in speaking exam part 2, there something asked of past and i talk about present and miss some of the keys in the cue card, will i be penalised?
Using present as a comparison is fine (e.g. No one talks about global warming when I was small, but now we know why it is important) but you shouldn’t talk too much about it. Your past should be your focus. Missing key instructions though, could be potentially damaging. Hope this helps!
Could you please help me out because i am making this mistake consistently. The answer is (a) Silence in the answer booklet and i have written silence and the answer is (the) splash ride and i have written splash ride. Will the answer be marked as right or wrong ?. I really appreciate that.
Are these questions from Road to IELTS practice tests? Because I don’t know the question I can’t help too much but please take a look at this blog post about the importance of being accurate and hopefully that will answer your questions. Thanks!
Just cross checking again, if I attend an offline test, I will be able to refer to the questions while listening to the audio clip?
Yes, if you are taking the paper-based test you will have the question paper in front of you whilst listening to the audio clips.
Do we get 30 seconds to review the questions before the audio clip is played?
You can be given a short amount of time before the clip is played to read the question. This could be shorter than 30 seconds though.
Great content. Vey helpful and informative. Thanks for sharing.
Well highlighted nine faq’s great you shared them
Nice! very helpful Article
What happens if I have the right answer, in addition to an adjective or a noun? Is it considered wrong?
For example, in a sample test, the answer to a blank is “magazine” and I wrote “local magazine” instead, will my answer be marked as wrong?
The question did allow me to write more than one word in the blank, and the speaker in the listening did mention the term “local magazine”.
Hi there, please take a look at point two of this blog post . It gives more detail on how to be accurate in your IELTS Listening test.
Hi, thanks for this post. I have two questions:
1. What would happen if I wrote more, for example, I might write “a modern farm” while the answer is “farm”, when the word limit is three. Would I lose marks?
2. What should I write when the recording says my birthday is on “21st of March 1999”, and the word count is 2?
1. Take a look at point 2 of this post. It will give you more detail about how to be accurate when answering questions.
2. In most cases in the IELTS Listening test, you just have to write the date and month as an answer. So you could write 21/03 or March 21. I haven’t seen cases where you need the year too but in that case you can write it as one word 21/03/1999.
please what’s the difference between academic and general. I still don’t understand the post
The Reading and Writing tests are different in the Academic vs the General Training test. The topics in the Academic test are catered towards people entering university or education. The General Training topics are more about general interests and English.
Do you have simulations adequate for a CD test taker? i want to register but i need to be sure about this. I also want to know if you provide 1 -1 tutoring on speaking and writing?
Hello! Yes, on Road to IELTS there is test practice for IELTS on computer candidates. There is no 1-to-1 tutoring but you can access plenty of practice activities, questions, and video advice on the Speaking and Writing sections of Road to IELTS. Thanks!
There are 4 section of listening part. How many time shall we listen these audios? Especially, last section of the listening is harder than the first section (for example). Do we listen them just one time? Or is there any chance to listen to the last section twice?
Hi there. All of the recordings will only be played once. In this blog post, you can find some helpful tips for before you even hear the recording.
If we are giving a paper based test.
Will we have the question paper in front of us?
Yes you will!
Please is it the test taker that plays the audio or the examiner .
The examiner will play the audio. If you are doing IELTS on computer the audio will automatically play.
If I write the answer “miss” instead of the answer from the answer booklet “missed”. Will it be wrong because of the wrong tense?
Hello! Yes, it is important that you use the correct tense in your answer. Pay attention to what the question is asking and what tense you need to answer in. Hope that helps!
thanks for sharing
May I ask while listening to IELTS audio during listening test, am I allowed to write directly on the answer sheet?
I know that it is recommended against as this practice may cause the candidate to lose focus, but am interested to know if this is permissible.
Hi there! All IELTS test advice documents seem to suggest that you write your answers on the question booklet first and use the designated time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. Hope that helps!