Follow our tips to prepare for your IELTS listening exam successfully
As you may already know, the IELTS exam has 4 main sections: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Each section has its specific requirements and guidelines to consider when preparing for the IELTS exam.
For many students the communication sections of the test are often the most challenging parts of the exam. This includes the IELTS listening exam as well. We’ve asked our teachers to prepare a list of their advice for success. Here are the top 10 tips:
1. Read the IELTS listening instructions diligently
In the IELTS listening section you’ll have separate instruction for each task. You’ll often see an instruction that says ‘write no more than 3 words’ or something similar. Keep an eye out for these, and follow the instructions carefully. Marks will be reduced if the instructions are not adhered to in the IELTS listening tasks.
2. Get used to British English
A large part of the IELTS listening tapes use British accents. Sometimes you’ll find Australian or Canadian accents as well, but the majority of the time the accents are British. In order to familiarise yourself with these, you could listen to the BBC regularly. Because of this, the IELTS listening tasks also tend to use British vocabulary – learning British versions of certain words (lorry (uk) – truck (us) will be helpful for the IELTS listening exam.
3. Spelling Counts
The IELTS listening test is not just listening actually utilises other skills, like writing and reading. When you’re writing you have to be very careful with spelling—misspelling words counts as an incorrect answer. Practice your spelling, learn spelling rules, and test yourself beforehand.
The speakers in the IELTS listening test also spell out words sometimes, like names or surnames. When they do this, they might say ‘double’ – ‘Allison’ will be spelt out as ‘A, double l, i, s, o n’ – keep this in mind.
4. Plural vs. Singular
Listen carefully to whether you need to write down a plural or a singular. If the question in the task requires a singular answer (cat) and you write the plural (Cats), it will be incorrect.
5. Take IELTS listening practice tests
By doing practice test you’ll familiarise yourself with the structure and language used in the IELTS listening exams. Do as many as you can, even if you don’t do well at first, just keep practising. All IELTS preparation books come with a CD that has IELTS listening tests.
6. Predict Answers
Sentence completion tasks and gap-fill tasks are common in the IELTS listening exam. These sentences are usually easy to predict. Predicting the answer increases your chance of getting the answer right.
For instance, if the sentence says— ‘The woman will travel on ___________’ – it’s easy to predict a logical answer (a train, a plane, a bus, a ship). Write down some predictions in pencil, then when the tape is played you’ll have an idea of what to listen out for. If the answer is one of the predictions, you’ll save time.
This can also be done in the IELTS listening gap-fill sentences task. If you have a sentence like – ‘He has three ________’ – predicting the answer is not as easy. However, it’s easy to predict whether a noun, a verb, or an adjective is needed. Being prepared will help you distinguish the word easily.
7. Be aware of changes
Often in the listening exam, they might say an answer and then change it. They might say a telephone number, and then correct it. So be careful throughout.
Get used to listening to large group of numbers in sequence. Listen for the difference between 13 and 30, 15 and 50 etc., as they often sound similar, especially when feeling stressed during an IELTS listening exam!
9. Develop your listening skills, communicate with others
Apart from preparing for the exam set up, it’s essential to improve your all round listening skills. And remember that listening and speaking go hand in hand – you can’t improve one without the other. To develop your communication skills, you must spend time speaking English in a variety of contexts. You might also benefit from attending group courses in English schools or spending some time travelling in English speaking countries.
10. Join a preparation course
Self-study is essential, but IELTS is very technical and academic, and having input from a professional is essential. A private teacher can assess your level, and help you create a study plan to reach your final goal. You also need someone to assess your work and provide constructive feedback – otherwise it may be difficult to make progress from one band to another.
To learn more about IELTS preparation courses, write to us at [email protected] and our team will counsel you with the whole process.