IELTS short answer questions

IELTS short answer questions in the listening test

IELTS short answer questions in the listening test

IELTS short answer questionsIn the listening test, one of the common types of questions are short answer questions, where you have to write one, two or three words or a number as an answer.

As with all question types, make sure you read the question instructions carefully before you answer. Do not write more than the number of words / numbers the question asks for. Generally the instructions and limits on word numbers are written in CAPITAL LETTERS, with bold and italic script.

For example: Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS


If you write three words for the answer here, your answer will be marked as wrong even if you have included the two words that are correct. However, it is OK to use only one word.

Here are some common instructions for this type of question:

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS

This means the answers will be either one or two words.

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS OR A NUMBER

This means that at least one of the answers will be just a number – a useful tip!

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND / OR A NUMBER


This means that at least one of the answers will include a number and probably another word as well

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN ONE WORD

This means that all of the answers are single words only

Practice with this short answer style sample

Listen to the recording and answer the three questions below:

Short answer questions in the listening test

Free IELTS listening practice


Tips and hints for IELTS short answer questions in the listening test

One of the most useful techniques with this type of question is to look at the question word being used. In the three questions above, the questions words are ‘What (festival)’, ‘when’ and ‘how many’. This should tell you that you are looking for the name of the something for the first answer, a date or time for the second answer and a number for the third answer.


Here are some common question words and the type of information they are most likely looking for.

Who – A name, a person, a company, a group or community, an institution, a job title

When – A date, a time, a part of the day (morning, evening etc)

Where – A place, a location

Why – A reason, an explanation

What – A thing, a name

Which – One of a given or limited choice

How – A description

How many – A number of times

How often – A frequency (monthly, daily, every hour etc)


Now practice a more difficult example by answering the 5 questions below.

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND / OR A NUMBER

Short answer questions in the listening test #2

Free IELTS listening practice test

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