ELC IELTS >  LISTENING  > Introduction

The IELTS Listening Test

The IELTS listening test is around 30 minutes long. There are four sections of increasing difficulty and about 40 questions. The first two sections are on topics of general interest.
Section one is a dialogue (2 speakers), section two a monologue (1 speaker). Sections three and four have an education or training focus. There will be a short lecture and a discussion involving 2, 3 or 4 people.
You will hear the sections once only, but you have 10 minutes at the end of the test to transfer your answers from the question booklet to the answer sheet.
Your main difficulty with this test is being unable to check your answers or fill in answers you didn't catch by listening a second time. Here are some tips to help you overcome this problem.


  1. Before the test, make sure you 'rehearse' with timed practice tests. This will enable you to deal with the appropriate kind of questions and note your answers as you listen. The more you practise, the more confident you will feel. Use the materials and links on this site and in the CILL.
  2. During the test, there are occasional 30 second pauses for you to examine the questions. Look ahead at the next section, especially the next 3 or 4 questions and keep them in mind as you listen. This will focus your concentration and enable you to pick out the information you need.
  3. Marks are not deducted for a wrong answer, so always have a guess. With multiple choice questions, mark the most likely alternatives if you are not sure of the answer. For other types of question, you can make notes on the paper. Then if necessary, you can make a sensible guess at the end when you transfer your answers to a separate sheet.

This ELC website gives several different listening texts. Practice tasks 2,3 and 4 are on general topics. Practice tasks 1,5 and 6 have an education or training theme.

Each task has approximately 20 questions. If you wish, you can combine 2 tasks, 1 from each category, to give you the same number of questions as the actual test(c.40). There are also 2 complete practice tests after the individual texts. and there are authentic practice listening test materials in CILL (see below for links and details).

The ELC's John Blake shares his expertise, giving tips, tasks and examples for the Listening test in this ELC IELTS video.

The more you practise listening, the better and more confident you will become. Good luck!

Practice Tasks

Listening task 1

Listening task 1 - transcript

Listening task 2

Listening task 2 - transcript

Listening task 3

Listening task 3 - transcript

Listening task 4

Listening task 4 - transcript

Listening task 5

Listening task 5 - transcript

Listening task 6

Listening task 6 - transcript

Practice Tests

Listening test 1
(After you complete and check section 1, click on the 'next section' button to see section 2 and so on)

  1. Listening test 1: section 1 - transcript (Dialogue: Bruce and Venny plan an evening out in Hong Kong)
  2. Listening test 1: section 2 - transcript (Monologue: Paratroopers)
  3. Listening test 1: section 3 - transcript (Discussion: Chinese and Western medicine)
  4. Listening test 1: section 4 - transcript (Mini lecture: Dr Bruce Morrison talks about evaluation techniques)

Listening test 2
(After you complete and check section 1, click on the 'next section' button to see section 2 and so on)

  1. Listening test 2: section 1 - transcript (Dialogue:Stewart and Venny talk about their childhood memories.
  2. Listening test 2: section 2 - transcript (Monologue: Stewart talks about Tibetan monasteries)
  3. Listening test 2: section 3 - transcript (Discussion: Julia, Nick and Miles compare their master degree programme experiences)
  4. Listening test 2: section 4 - transcript (Mini lecture: Sue Fitzgerald talks about preparation for the IELTS test)

This ELC website can help you to practise the various Listening task types and increase your comprehension and confidence. Tips in how to maximise preparation effectiveness and in exam techniques are also given. In addition, there are specific supplementary materials and practice tests in the CILL library.

Offline CILL IELTS materials for listening practice.

  1. Cambridge University's Practice Exam Papers books 1,2,3. These provide complete mock exams for self testing.
  2. Cambridge University's Specimen materials folders.
  3. Cambridge University's IELTS preparation course, "Insight into IELTS" by V. Jakeman & C. McDowell
  4. Preparation course "Focus on IELTS" by S. O'Connell, Longman press
  5. The British Council's "How to prepare for IELTS".

Good luck!

CILL links

To watch videos of people talking about a variety of topics, click on the appropriate links at


www.ananova.com Click on the Video Reports section. This is a news/current affairs website with a sound option: the reader is a robot so 'she' is easy to understand!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/ This site gives BBC news coverage: you can listen or read (or both!) The link below uses BBC material to help you improve your English

http://www.rthk.org.hk/channel/radio3/Hong Kong's English language radio station

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/More English practice from the BBC