22 Frequently-asked Questions about IELTS Listening Test

Does everyone take the same test or are there different listening tests?

All candidate take the same listening test.


How many sections are there?

You should do 4 sections. Section 1 and 2 are social situations; sections 3 and 4 are academic situations.


How many questions are there?

There are 40 questions, 10 questions in each section.


How long is the listening test?

The IELTS listening test lasts for 40 minutes. The recording is 30 minutes. After the recording, you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.


How many times will I be able to listen to the recording?

You can hear the recording only once except for some question examples.


How to score my listening test?



Do I lose a point if my answer is wrong?

No, you don’t lose a point for a wrong answer. It is better for you to have a guess. Never leave a space on your answer sheet.


Do the answers come in order?

It depends on the type of question. To learn this technique, click here!


Will I have time to read the questions before I listen?

Yes, you will be given time to go through the questions before the recording begins. The recording goes like this “you will now hear a talk about … First, you have some time to look at questions from 11 to15….”


Can I write on the listening question paper?

Yes, you can. And it is helpful to take down notes while listening. To learn how to take notes, click here!


Can I ask for extra paper for taking notes?

No. However, you can write on the question paper while listening.


Are capital letters important?

No. Capital letters are not important because you won’t lose your score for this. To learn more about this, click here!


How can I improve my multiple choice listening?

To learn this technique, click here!


What accents will there be in the listening test?

A variety of different accents are in the recording. You should practice before the test.


Is spelling important?

Yes, it is. You won’t get score from a wrongly-spelling answer.


How can I improve my listening?

It is important that you go through Cambridge IELTS Listening to get used to a range of accents and topics. You can also refer to my Learning material page to enhance your listening ability. However, you should also know that these materials do not necessarily improve your listening score band. You still need to learn listening techniques and apply those techniques in your test. To learn listening techniques, click here!


What does “two words and/or number” mean?

þ 16 art students

þ 16 students

þ 16

ý 16 art school students

To learn more about this, click here!


Should I use “the” or “a” with my answer?

It depends on whether it is a sentence or an outline in a table/ form/ diagram/ flowchart. For a sentence, you might add “the” or “a” to make sure that the grammar is correct. If it is an outline, you don’t have the need to think about grammar.


How can I write the time? 9am or 9.00am?

All forms of written time are acceptable:






How can I write a date? 25th march or 25 march?



If I write Northroad instead of North Road, is the answer correct?

No, it is not correct. If the answer contains separate words, you must write it separately.


How can I improve section 4 of the listening test?

1) You must know this section has clear structure because it is a lecture. You need to learn how to follow the structure to get answers. To learn how to recognize the structure in recordings, click here!

2) You must know how to listen to key words to locate your answer in the recording.

3) Do not only look at one question at once. It is better to keep an eye on two questions, so you can avoid missing answers. This is also applied in reading test. To learn how to keep an eye on two questions, click here!

4) Listen for signposts. These words indicate that the speaker is moving on to another point. To learn what are signposts, click here!

5) You cannot use brackets in your answers. For explanation, click here!

Paris M

Author by Paris M

Hi, I’m Paris, the author of this website. I have eight years of IELTS teaching experience. I’m here to help you achieve your target score.

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