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IELTS Listening

The IELTS listening test is divided into four sections and the sections get increasingly difficult. You only hear each section one time.

The time for the test is 40 minutes. The listening takes 30 minutes, but you then have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to an answer sheet.


The first two sections of the test are concerned with social needs.

The final two sections are concerned with situations related more closely to educational or training contexts.

All the IELTS listening topics are of general interest and it makes no difference what subjects you are planning to study or what work you intend to do.

A range of English accents and dialects are used in the recordings which reflects the international usage of IELTS

Number of Speakers
Social Needs Conversation between two speakers
Social Needs Speech by one speaker
Educational or Training Conversation between up to four speakers
Academic Subject Speech by one speaker

Section One

In the first section there is a conversation between two speakers. For example - a conversation about travel arrangements, booking accommodation, or decisions on a night out.

Section Two

The second section is a monologue (a speech by one person). It will be set in an everyday social context. For example - a speech about student services on a University campus or arrangements for meals during a conference.

Section Three

Section three is a conversation between up to four people. For example - a conversation between a tutor and a student about an assignment or between three students planning a research project.

Section Four

The final part is another monologue. It is a lecture or talk of general academic interest such as a university lecture.

Question Types

The following types of question may appear on the test:

  1. multiple choice  
  2. short-answer questions  
  3. sentence completion  
  4. notes/summary/diagram/flow chart/table completion  
  5. labelling a diagram which has numbered parts  
  6. classification  
  7. matching  

You will be provided with instructions on the test paper on how to answer the questions, and they are clear and easy to follow. You will be given examples of any unfamiliar question types.

During the IELTS listening test, you are given time to read the questions and enter and then check your answers. You enter your answers on the question paper as you listen and when the tape ends ten minutes are allowed for you to transfer your answers to an Answer Sheet.

One mark is awarded for each of the 40 items in the test.

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