Listening Sections Overview

Each of the four sections of the IELTS Listening Test focuses on a different type of speech, as shown below:

Section 1 — A social or transactional dialogue

Section 2 — A topic or short speech

Section 3 — An academic conversation

Section 4 — An academic lecture

Lets look at each section in detail...

Listening Section 1

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.

Tips: - You should practice writing names and numbers ahead of time as they will often ask you to do so during this section of the test.

Listening Section 2

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.

Tip: -The speakers often correct themselves. They will say something initially and then change the statement. For example, "we will go in March" is said first and then "No, let's make it May". Watch out for this and make sure you write the final correct answer.

Listening Section 3

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.

Tip:-Write your answer immediately on the question sheet itself. Don't try to memorize the answers or to Write on the answer sheet. The ten minutes provided at the end of the test are quite sufficient to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

Listening Section 4

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

Tip: It is suggested that you just take notes as you listen and write the full answers after you have finished listening

Following are the main types of IELTS Listening questions:

  1. Form completion - Here you are given a form. You need to fill the blank fields in the form based on what you hear.
  2. Multiple choice - While you hear the tape you need to select the answer from 3,4 or 5 choices.
  3. Short Answers - Your answer should be in 3 words or less
  4. Sentence completion - Complete a sentence according to what you hear
  5. Matching - Match a set of options with a set of sentences based on what you hear
  6. Plan/Map/Diagram labelling - You need to write descriptions for different parts of a drawing based on what you hear.


In the following topics we will go through each question type in more detail.

1 Comment
  1. Sara 6 years ago

    It’s useful information. Thank you.
    As for me the hardest section is 4. I made for myself conclusions.

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