What is the best approach to IELTS listening test preparation?


It is essential to know deeply about the listening test when considering taking the IELTS test. Unlike Eiken and TOEIC, the IELTS listening test has a wide variety of question formats. You will be asked a wide range of questions, from simple ones that you will touch in your daily life to academic ones.

It seems a little difficult, but if you take appropriate measures, you can achieve a high score. In this article, I will introduce the details of the IELTS listening test, tips for answering, and countermeasures.

What is the outline of the IELTS listening test?

There are two types of IELTS, the Academic Module and the General Training Module.

The differences between the two modules are as follows.

・ Academic Module: For those who wish to study abroad at an English-speaking university or graduate school. Frequent academic English words
・ General Training Module: A test that proves the English proficiency required for employment and migration in English-speaking countries. Frequent English words related to daily life

The IELTS listening test asks both academic and general questions, so you need to learn English in a well-balanced manner.

The exam time for the listening part is about 30 minutes, and the total number of questions in all four parts is 40.

Another major feature is that descriptive questions are given. Of course, listening ability is also evaluated for accurate spelling of words, so appropriate measures must be taken.

What is the perfect score for the IELTS listening test?

Before I introduce the listening test scores, I will first explain how to evaluate IELTS, which is a little complicated.

IELTS is not a pass / fail test like Eiken. As with TOEIC, scores will be given according to your English skills.

IELTS is evaluated on a scale of 1 to 9 for every 4 skills, and the average value of the 4 skills is the total score.

Listening test scores range from 0 to 0.5 with a maximum of 9.0. Below is a table summarizing the listening score and the number of correct answers.

Listening score Positive solution number (out of 40 questions)
9.0 39~40 questions
8.5 37~38 questions
8.0 35~36 questions
7.5 32~34 questions
7.0 30~31 questions
6.5 Question 26~29
6.0 23~25 questions
5.5 18~22 questions
5.0 Question 16~17
4.5 13~15 questions
4.0 10~12 questions
3.5 8~9 questions
3.0 6~7 questions

What is the structure and question format of the listening test?

The structure and question format of the IELTS listening test are as follows.

section number of questions feature
Part 1 10 questions Daily conversation between two people
part 2 10 questions Monologue in everyday life
Part 3 10 questions Conversation with multiple people in the field of education
Part 4 10 questions Monologue on academic themes

We will introduce the features of each part in detail.

The problem consists of 4 parts in total

The listening part consists of 4 parts in total.

Part 1 and Part 2 are general module issues (daily life), and Part 3 and 4 are academic module issues (academic).

Each part has only one audio playback and is read by various speakers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and so on.

Below, we will explain the details of each part in detail.

Part 1: Daily conversation by two speakers

Part 1 is a daily conversation between two speakers.

You will be asked to exchange information at the accommodation facility, make a reservation call at the hotel, talk with friends, check in at the airport, and so on.

The difficulty is not high because the basic words in everyday conversation are given.

According to the IELTS official website, the following words are frequently used in Part 1.

・ Circle
・ square
・ triangle
・ rectangle
・ cylinder
・ oval (oval)
・ suggest (suggest)
・ develop (develop)
・ borrow (borrow)
・ persuade (Convince)
・ discuss
・ review
・ crash
・ necessary
・ comfortable
・ convenient
・ terrible
・ temporary
・ permanent
・ knowledgeable
・ numbers

・ time

・ money

The tendency is for words that are prone to misspelling to appear frequently.

It is possible to prevent spelling mistakes by writing 10,000 using Arabic numerals instead of writing ten thousand for numbers and hours.

Many words are difficult to spell correctly, but since they are all simple words in terms of meaning and listening, how to prevent spelling mistakes is the key to a high score.

Reference: [IELTS listening measures] Summary of frequently-used words that should be absolutely suppressed

Part 2: Everyday story by one speaker

Part 2 is a narration issue.

You will be asked to explain the facilities, layout of leisure facilities, depiction of rooms in the building, and explanations about meal arrangements.

The following are the frequently-used words that should be suppressed in Part 2.

・ Lounge
・ cafeteria
・ reception
・ ticket desk
・ storage room (warehouse)
・ theater (theater, theater)
・ courtyard (courtyard)
・ laboratory (laboratory)
・ automobile (car )
・ Truck
・ tractor
・ tram
・ subway
・ pedalestrian (pedestrian)
・ passenger (passenger)
・ commuter (commuter)
・ avenue (road)
・ drive (drive, driveway )
・ Path
・ lane
・ court
・ terrace (high ground)
・ traffic lights (traffic light)
・ diagonal (diagonal line)
・ corner (corner)
・ opposite (opposite)
・ adjacent to ~ )
・ Go straight ahead

There are many problems that can only be solved if you know the words about roads and facilities, so at least try to remember the above words.

Reference: [IELTS listening measures] Summary of frequently-used words that should be absolutely suppressed

Part 3: Conversations in educational settings and training by up to 4 speakers

Part 3 is a conversation problem with up to four speakers in the classroom.

There will be conversations between university professors and students discussing issues, students discussing research plans, etc., so you have to learn English words about schools and subjects.

The list of English words that frequently appear in Part 3 is as follows.

・ University (university, general university)
・ college (university, college)
・ organization (organization)
・ outline (overview)
・ proofreading (calibration)
・ experiment (experiment)
・ reference (reference)
・ lecture (lecture)
・ tutor (home ) Teacher, instructor
・ faculty
・ bachelor's
・ questionnaire
・ statistical
・ assessment
・ revision
・ supervise
・ Supervisor
・ degree
・ certificate
・ commerce
・ psychology
・ engineering
・ sociology
・ medicine
・ geography
・ Architecture
・ philosophy
・ economics

Words that are difficult to understand both in terms of meaning and spelling frequently appear.

Note that subject and organization names are treated as proper nouns, so the first letter should be capitalized. If you write it in lowercase, it will be incorrect, so be careful.

Reference: [IELTS listening measures] Summary of frequently-used words that should be absolutely suppressed

Part 4: Academic story by one speaker

Part 4 is the most difficult listening part. In Part 4, you will listen to a university lecture by one speaker and solve the questions.

However, frequently-used words are only basic in academic situations, and no specially specialized words are given.

Frequent words are broadly divided into five categories: health, animals and habits, environment, nature, politics, and energy.

We have picked up the main frequently-used words, so please refer to them.

・ leisure
・ disease
・ overweight
・ check up (health diagnosis)
・ medicine (medicine)
・ pandemic (pandemic)

[Animal and habits]

[Environment and nature]
・ global warming
・ disaster
・ earthquake (earthquake)
・ tornado (tornaki)
・ blizzard (blizzard)
・ flood (flood)

・government (government)
・politician (politician)
・senate (upper house)
・mayor (mayor)
・regulations (regulation)
・president (grand commander)

・ nuclear
・ coal
・ generate
・ hydro electrical power
・ renewable

Reference: [IELTS listening measures] Summary of frequently-used words that should be absolutely suppressed

There are 5 types of question formats

One of the characteristics of the IELTS listening test is that there are five question formats. It's not just a choice question, so let's understand the question format in advance so that you can answer calmly.

Below are five question formats for the IELTS Listening Part.

Choice problem

After listening to the voice, select the appropriate answer from the three options. In the case of Eiken and TOEIC, there is only one answer, but in the case of IELTS, there is not always one answer.

Therefore, first of all, you need to read the questions carefully and check how many answers you have. You will also be asked a type of question to choose the right sentence from the options so that the sentence is correct.

In order to capture the selection problem, it is effective to understand the flow of the whole voice and listen while paying attention to numbers and proper nouns.

Matching problem

A matching question is a question of matching the choices listed on the question sheet after listening to the audio.

An example is posted on the official website, so I will explain it in detail while looking at it.

1.Green Meadow Library
2.Happy Hill Library
3.Joyful Town Library

・If you want to read books about music __
・If you want to read science magazines __
・If you want to read novels __

First, listen to the sound that flows. In the case of this example, you will hear a voice about the library. After that, select the library if you want to read "books about music", "scientific magazines", and "novels".

It is necessary to listen to detailed information while utilizing the memo.

Source: [IELTS Listening Measures] Thorough explanation of the types of questions and how to answer them!

Labeling problem

The labeling problem is a type of problem that completes the map, schedule, chart, etc. described on the question sheet based on the content of the audio.

First of all, you need to check the map and charts on the question sheet and solve the problem while listening to the voice.

Also, in labeling problems, you are often asked about the direction, so enter words related to the direction and direction.

Fill-in-the-blank problem

The fill-in-the-blank question is a "descriptive" question that fills in some or all of the blanks in the text after listening to the audio.

However, it is not so difficult to write because there are many numbers and proper nouns and it is not necessary to write English sentences.

The format of the questions in the fill-in-the-blank question is as follows.

・ Form (name, address, phone number, etc.)
・ Memo
・ Table (collection of place, time, price, etc.)
・ Flowchart (summary of process indicated by arrow)
・ Summary (part or whole of voice)

Abbreviations such as Don't are not answers, and hyphenated words such as police officer are considered as one word.

Short answer problem

The short answer question is a question that describes the answer to the question based on the content of the audio. Since time, place, price, etc. are asked, it is necessary to listen carefully to proper nouns and numbers.

What are the tips for solving the IELTS listening test?

In order to achieve a high score on the IELTS listening test, you need to keep a few points. Below, we will introduce 5 tips, so please practice them.

Fill in with the correct spelling

The IELTS listening test is a descriptive answer by hand, not a mark that fills in the correct choices.

Listening skills are, of course, also evaluated for accurate word spelling. Be aware of misspelling, forgetting to add the s in the triad, the tense of the verb, and capitalizing the first letter of the proper pronoun.

Look ahead to the problem

In each part, there are tens of seconds before the sound is played. Use these tens of seconds to look ahead to the problem. If you can look ahead to the problem, you will get a rough overview of the voice and will greatly deepen your understanding.

However, it is safer to look ahead to the question sentence only by someone who is confident in listening skills to some extent. If you are not yet confident in listening, don't think about look-ahead, but be aware of listening first. It doesn't make sense to focus on look-ahead when you're not listening very well, so it's important to focus on listening.

Fill in all the answer fields as much as possible

Even if you can't hear the audio content, try to fill in all the answer fields as much as possible. If it is blank, the probability of correct answer is 0%, but if you write something, there is a probability that it will be correct.

In particular, there are many problems that ask for proper nouns, times, and numbers, so even if you do not understand it, refer to the memo and describe the proper nouns and numbers that may be correct.

However, it is not good to spend too much time on the parts you do not understand, so please refer to the memo and fill in something in a hurry for the time being.

Actively take notes

The IELTS listening test allows you to take notes. Therefore, it is recommended that you make a note of what you can hear, as it can be scribbled or written in Japanese.

In particular, numbers and proper nouns are likely to be directly linked to the answer, so make a note of them. The memo will be very useful with the 10 minutes of answer posting time described below.

Effectively utilize the 10-minute response posting time

The IELTS listening test will give you 10 minutes of answer transcription time at the end.

Take advantage of this 10 minutes to check spelling and review your notes to see if the answer is correct.

What is an effective study method for preparing for the IELTS listening test?

A major feature of the IELTS listening test is that it measures your listening skills and your ability to spell English correctly.

With this in mind, I would like to introduce two effective study methods.

Dictation to listen and write down

Dictation is a learning method that transcribes flowing English speech.

In addition to strengthening your listening skills, you will also acquire the skills required to accurately copy the English you hear in the IELTS listening test.

Also, the advantage of dictation is that the words that you couldn't hear become clear. In general listening learning, there is a demerit that the part where the understanding is ambiguous is passed as it is because it is only listening.

Dictation, on the other hand, needs to be transcribed word for word, so the inaudible parts become clear.

Since it has a strong aspect of grasping the current state of listening skills and clarifying weaknesses, it is effective to work on dictation once or twice a week and re-listen to the parts that could not be transcribed many times.

Listening and speaking shadowing

Shadowing is a learning method that follows the flowing English voice like a shadow.

Known as an interpreter training, it is extremely difficult, but it can be expected to have great effects such as improving listening and speaking.

The biggest advantage of shadowing is that you can build an English brain. If you can build an English brain, you will be able to understand English in English, and you will be less likely to miss it while listening.

In addition, you will be able to get used to the rhythms and sounds peculiar to English, which will greatly improve your listening skills.

You can improve your listening skills effectively by doing shadowing learning every day and dictating once or twice a week by taking advantage of the gap time.


In order to achieve the goal with IELTS, it is necessary to improve not only the listening measures introduced in this article but also writing and speaking.

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