The IELTS listening test is around 30 minutes long. There are four sections of increasing difficulty and there are 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. In section three there will be a discussion involving 2 main speakers, and in section four a monologue on an academic subject.

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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 contains several different listening practice tasks. There are two complete practice listening tests. There are also seven extra practice activities. Each task from the practice activities represents a section from the Listening test and has 10 questions. If you wish, you can combine 4 tasks, 1 from each category, to give you the same number of questions as the actual test (40). There are also authentic practice listening test materials in CILL (see below for details).

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

Test 1

Test 2

OFFLINE CILL IELTS materials for listening practice

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

*CILL – The Centre for Independent Language Learning, A305 and Z213, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

ONLINE IELTS materials for listening practice This site gives BBC news coverage: you can listen or read (or both!) Hong Kong's English language radio station. More English practice from the BBC. This site gives you sample Listening test questions and practice. This resource gives information and practice, including the following three listening tests: A free short online course.