How to Pass the IELTS Listening

Ok, so technically the IELTS exam is not PASS/FAIL but you know what I mean… You want the best grade you can get, right? And when you don’t get it, it feels like you failed. So here’s how to succeed in the IELTS Listening Exam.

Predicting the Material

This is the most important thing that you can do. Good listeners are the ones who carefully predicted the material. I don’t mean they knew what exactly would be said. Rather, they researched the exam to guess what might be included, and then they carefully scanned the questions for an idea of what would be included in the recording.

Pre-reading the Questions

When you sit down to the IELTS Listening Exam, look carefully at the questions. Think about the following important things:

  • What do you actually need to do?
  • What vocabulary is used?
  • How will you answer these questions?

You should guessing whether you will expect a conversation or a lecture. Is it about education or sports? When you have a gap-fill exercises, how many words do you need to write? What sort of words? Noun? Adjective? Adverb? Name? Address? Verb? Date? Telephone number?

Write Fast

Note down your answers and move on to the next one quickly. You can always come back and change it later. If you hear a word and you’re not sure exactly, write down an approximation of the sound. Later, when you read the sentence, you can figure out what the word really was. Think carefully and logically. If you really, really don’t know, then take a guess at the end. Never leave an empty space on your answer paper!

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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