Predicting and anticipating in the IELTS listening test
As the listening begins, you hear a voice on the recording telling you what section you are about to complete, as well as the question numbers. Then you are given a short amount of time to read the questions (more about timing here).
During this preparation time, it is important that you read the questions, thinking about some of the language you might hear so that you can predict the approximate type of answer.
Here is a typical set of questions for a Section 1 recording:
NAME: Mary ________(1)
ADDRESS: _______(2), Lansdale Street, Meldon, Warwickshire
TELEPHONE NUMBER: ______________(3)
REQUIRED MEMBERSHIP TIME: ___________________(4)
MEMBERSHIP TYPE Circle as appropriate: FULL / GYM AND SWIMMING / GYM ONLY (5)
HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT US? ____________________(6)
Using the time you are given before the speakers begin, you should be able to logically predict or anticipate the following information:
General: the title of the questions says application form, so this is someone who is joining or enrolling in something. Question 5 refers to a gym so logically it is a gym enrolment form. It is likely to be for new members, not a renewal of membership because it is asking for basic personal questions.
Question 1: The answer here is likely to be a family name. Listening for ‘Mary’ will also be a useful indicator, as generally people in English speaking countries state their first name followed by their last name (in some cultures, it is common to use the family name first).
Question 2: This is likely to be a number (e.g. 14) or a number and a letter (e.g. 14 A), because the street address is given afterwards, followed by the suburb and the county.
Question 3: This is highly likely to be a string of numbers, possibly including an area code.
Question 4: The answers here are given – it will be FULL, GYM AND SWIMMING or GYM ONLY
Question 5: Looking at this logically, the answer is likely to be something like ‘From a newspaper’, ‘On the internet’, ‘From a friend’ or something similar.
Important note: KEEP AN OPEN MIND!
Although it is essential to use the time you are given to predict or anticipate some of the answers, it is very important that you listen closely for the unexpected. For example, it is possible that for TELEPHONE NUMBER, the person may not have a telephone, meaning that the answer could be ‘NONE’.
Look at the following form and predict as much as you can. Remember that you will have a limit on the number of words, so think of possible answers that do not go beyond the limit.
Complete the following using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS OR A NUMBER.
Evening Classes for Adults
a Courses will run for _____ .
b Maximum of _____ students per class.
c Cost will depend on _____
d Those interested should contact _____ Edwards on 263-8147.
e Evening courses will be held at the _____ .
Now listen to the recording and fill in the missing information USING NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND / OR A NUMBER
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Predicting and anticipating
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a Courses will run for ________________________________________________.
- Answer: (10 weeks, ten weeks)
b Maximum of ______________________________________ students per class.
- Answer: (8, eight)
c Cost will depend on ________________________________________________.
- Answer: (income)
d Those interested should contact ________________ on 263-8147.
- Answer (Mike, Mike Edwards)
e Evening courses will be held at the ___________________________________.
- Answer: (town hall)
Predicting and anticipating for pictures / diagrams
Predicting and anticipating in the listening is also useful when you have to select a picture or diagram in a multiple-choice question. Look at the pictures below – they have the same context but there are obvious differences, and spending a few seconds thinking of those differences can help you identify the correct answer.
Click here to see some of the points you could have noted.
Legs – straight in picture A, left leg bent in pictures B and C
Head – faces straight down in picture A, to the side in pictures B and C and forward in picture D
Golf club – vertical to the floor in picture A and C, horizontal above the head in picture B and behind the back in picture D.