Today we look at the strategy to answer the different types of questions in IELTS Listening test

The strategy for answering all listening question types is more or less the same. The following playlist covers this in more detail:

Click on the playlist below to start learning NOW!



Here's a recap of the strategy mentioned in the playlist above:

  1. First read the instructions carefully. If you are asked to answer in NOT MORE THAN THREE WORDS then make sure you do not write more than 3 words in your answer.
  2. Pay attention to spellings and grammar; You will lose marks for mistakes. You may write your answers in lower case or capitals
  3. The 40 questions for the listening section are divided into several groups. Each tape recording refers to a single group of 4-5 questions. Each recording clearly mentions the questions that you need to answer based on that recording. This is a good way to keep track of which questions to focus on while listening to the tape.
  4. You can hear the tape recording only once so do not get distracted even for a second while listening to the tape. It is easy to get lost in the recording.
  5. You have 20 seconds to look at the questions before the tape recording starts. Use this time to look at all the questions in the group and become familiar with them.
  6. Underline keywords in the question so that you can lookout for them when you hear the recording.
  7. Answer as you listen. Write your answers on the question paper. You will have 10 minutes at the end to transfer these to the answer sheet.
  8. Questions follow the sequence of the tape recording. If you find that you haven't heard the answer to a question for a long time then you have probably missed it. Quickly move to the next question.
  9. Focus on any specific information that is being told. Usually this related to one of the answers. For ex. "My address is 10 Downing Street".
  10. If a word is being spelled it is usually a good indication that it is an answer to a question. For ex. "My name is spelled M-K-E-R-E".
  11. Watch out for sudden change in the volume and pitch of the speakers. This is a good indication that it relates to an answer to a question.
  12. Watch out for U-turns in the recording. For example the speaker might say one thing and then a few sentences later they may say the exact opposite. Remember that the last information is correct. For ex. "I will see you on Tuesday ....... Oh no! I'm busy on Tuesday lets make it Saturday."
  13. Watch out for generalizations. You might hear the speaker first give a list of things and then says them all in one word. For ex. “I like 'Shrek', 'Finding Nemo' and 'Ice Age' – animation movies are my thing". If the question is “What kind of movies…” the correct answer is “animation” and not “Shrek”, “Finding Nemo” or “Ice Age”.
  14. Copy answers to the answer sheet smartly.
  15. Write your answers in pencil only. Pens are not allowed.


Share These Listening Tips With Your Friends

Good times :)

Click on Mark Complete button below and move to the next topic for more strategies for the listening section.

Have questions or comments about this lesson or any other lesson add a comment below.

  1. Francis Goh 4 years ago

    Dear Atul,

    May I share some strategies also?

    Based on my observations, for Section 1, 2 and 3 of the Listening Test, each section is usually divided into 2 parts with around 5 to 6 questions for Part 1 and 4 to 5 questions for Part 2. The recording will usually give you around 20 to 30 secs to read in advance.

    However, for Listening Section 4, the recording only gives you 20 to 30 seconds to skim through the 10 questions one shot. Once the recording starts, usually after 5 or 6 questions, there will be a slight pause of 3 to 5 seconds before the recording continues.

    • Author
      IELTS Online Practice 4 years ago

      Dear Francis,

      That’s a great observation.

      The most important strategy in Listening is being able to anticipate the answers by looking at the question. You may not be able to know the exact answer but you might at least be able to guess what “category” the answer might belong to such as a name, number, a list of things or an adjective etc. Then, when the recording is playing, focus hard to listen for words that belong to these categories.


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