headphones

About the IELTS listening test

The IELTS Listening test

*Note that the listening test is the same for the General Training and Academic Module test

Timing and requirements

About the IELTS listening testThere are four sections in the IELTS listening test, with each section having one recording. The recordings are approximately 6 minutes long, and you need to answer 10 questions in each section. At the end of all four sections, you are given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. This is important, as it means you shouldn’t waste time during the recordings writing answers neatly on the answer sheet; instead, use this time to pre-read the questions for the next recording.


IMPORTANT TIP: there is a short break in the middle of the recording for Sections 1, 2 and 3. However, there is NO break in Section 4 – this will play through from the beginning to the end. The sections become progressively more difficult, with Section 1 being approximately pre-intermediate level and Section 4 being an advanced level.

Specific timings for the IELTS listening test

  1. Introduction and one example: around 45 seconds
  2. Break: 30 seconds to pre read the first set of questions for Section 1
  3. First part of Section 1: around 3 minutes
  4. Break: 30 seconds to pre read the second set of questions for Section 1
  5. Second part of Section 1: around 3 minutes
  6. Break: 30 seconds to check your answers for Section 1
  7. Section 2 is announced: about 5 seconds
  8. Break: 30 seconds to pre read the first set of questions for Section 2
  9. First part of Section 2: around 3 minutes
  10. Break: 30 seconds to pre read the second set of questions for Section 2
  11. Second part of Section 2: around 3 minutes
  12. Break: 30 seconds to check your answers for Section 2
  13. Section 3 is announced: about 5 seconds
  14. Break: 30 seconds to pre read the first set of questions for Section 3
  15. First part of Section 3: around 3 minutes
  16. Break: 30 seconds to pre read the second set of questions for Section 3
  17. Second part of Section 3: around 3 minutes
  18. Break: 30 seconds to check your answers for Section 3
  19. Section 4 is announced: about 5 seconds
  20. Break: 40 seconds to pre read ALL questions for Section 4
  21. Section 4 played without a break: around 7  minutes
  22. Break: 10 minutes to transfer your answer to the answer sheet

The difference between the sections in the IELTS listening test

Section 1 is a conversation between two people on a non-academic subject. For example, it could be two people talking about membership to a library or a shop assistant talking to a csutomer about a product. Section 2 is a single speaker talking about a non-academic subject, such as buying your own home or a presentation about a holiday destination. Section3 is a conversation between two or more people about an academic subject, such as completing an assignment or working together on a project. Section 4 is a single speaker discussing an academic subject, such as academic regulations at a university.


Recordings are played once only

You only hear each recording once, with the exception of the first example in section 1. All sections of the test have approximately 30 seconds reading time before the recording begins and 30 seconds after the recording ends to pre-read the questions or check your answers. In sections 1 to 3, there is a pause midway through the recording for you to pre-read the remaining questions in the section. In section 4, there is no break in the recording.

IELTS listening test question types

  1. Short answer questions
  2. Sentence completion questions
  3. Form/summary/table/flowchart/notes completion questions
  4. Labelling a diagram
  5. Matching and classifying
  6. Multiple choice

What accents do they use for IELTS listening?

The IELTS test is not a purely British English test. You can expect to hear a range of a accents – British, American, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and even non-native English speaking English. It is important to use a range of different sources in your IELTS preparation so that you can become familiar with them. However, you will NOT be required to distinguish between accents.

Please help us reach more people by sharing!

Comments