Category Archives: IELTS Listening (lessons)

IELTS Listening for personal information


IELTS Listening for personal information

You should also take a look at the lesson ‘Listening for details in IELTS

In the first section of the IELTS listening test, it is common to have to take a note of some personal information from one of the speakers. This can be there name, their address, a telephone number or other similar details.

IELTS Listening for personal informationIn this section of the test, it is also common for the speaker to spell a word (for example, that speaker may say ‘I live in Arlene Road, that’s A – R – L – E – N – E Road’.).


Here are just some of the points you may need to listen out for when listening for personal information:

  • Surname / Family name
  • Other names (this could include nicknames of abbreviations)
  • Telephone number
  • Current occupation
  • Marital status (e.g. single, divorced, married, separated)
  • Educational qualifications
  • D.O.B (date of birth)
  • Nationality
  • Current address

These questions can often be the easiest way to pick up points in the IELTS listening test, but points can also be lost for not spelling the answer correctly. Practice by listening to the recording below and putting the word you hear in the boxes below. To simulate the real IELTS test, don’t pause the recording – see if you can keep up with the spelling.


Listen to the recording and type the names you hear in the boxes below.

You should also take a look at the lesson ‘Listening for details in IELTS

Signpost words in IELTS listening

Signpost words in IELTS listening


NOTE: we recommend you take a look at the post on linking words before beginning this page.

In the listening test, the type of linking words you hear can help you predict the general direction of what you hear. You can tell if points are connected as:

• comparisons
• concessions
• additions
• sequences
• opposites
• cause and effect constructions.

These are called ‘signpost words’ (also ‘discourse markers’), as they are a signpost to tell you what is happening next. Understanding and following signpost words can be a very helpful way to improve your IELTS result as it will help you better follow the conversation.

Listen to the recording. You will hear the first part of a sentence. What point do you think it will be followed by? Write the linking word that helped you decide. The first one has been done for you.

Sentence 1 (example): The next point is likely to be an opposite because of the word although.

Sentence 2: The next point is likely to be   because of the word
Show answer SEQUENCE because of the words ‘NEXT STEP’

Sentence 3: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer ADDITION because of the words ‘NO ONLY…BUT ALSO’

Sentence 4: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer CONCESSION because of the word ‘ADMITTEDLY’

Sentence 5: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer CAUSE/EFFECT because of the words ‘AS A RESULT’

Sentence 6: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer COMPARISON because of the words ‘IN THE SAME WAY’

Linking words in listening are only one example of discourse markers – the words and expressions used to show how speech is constructed. They are particularly useful for you in Sections 2 and 4 of the listening test as they indicate changes in the direction of a thought, idea or opinion. That means if you have a question asking about reading ability and the next question is asking about new additions to the school building, then you can expect to hear a discourse marker announcing the change of topic.

Here are some of the more common signpost words and phrases, with their meanings.

First = This it the beginning of a list of points.
Like = An example is going to be given.
Anyway = This could mean a change of subject or nearing the end of the talk.
I mean = The speaker is about to rephrase or give an example.
So = An effect or a result of a previous point is about to be stated.
Moving on = Another point is going to be introduced.
As I said = The speaker is going to recap an earlier point.
To make myself clear = The speaker is going to rephrase a point.
Right = This could mean the speaker is about to begin,change the subject or is nearing the end of the talk.
To put it another way = The speaker is about to rephrase a point.
This isn’t always so = The speaker is about to give exceptions to or contrasts to a previous comment
Now = The speaker is about to begin a new subject.
Talking about that = The speaker is going to expand on a point.

Test your skills! You can either try completing the text below using the list of signpost words presented above then listen, or you could just listen and complete the answers!

(1) I’d like to thank you all again for coming to this meeting, and to say that I have received apologies from Mrs Brownlow, who won’t be able to attend today. (2), I’d like to talk to you about our English language department. (3) in the last meeting, we are looking for some of you to act as mentors for our international students arriving over the coming weeks. Although our college prides itself on having a welcoming environment in which international students can feel at home from the very first day, we know (4). Feelings of homesickness, isolation and loneliness are somewhat unavoidable, but I would like, as much as possible, to reduce these factors by teaming new students with existing students who have been here some time. (5), I am looking for volunteers to show the new students around, introduce them to people and generally ease them into their studies, so if any of you are willing to help, then please come to my office anytime during the week and let me know. (6), I’d also like to talk to you about a temporary teacher who will be joining us for the next week or so. He will be teaching history and sociology, and substituting for Miss Kinsale until her recovery. (7), if anyone
wants to send her a card then just let me know by the end of the day as I will be going to the hospital this evening to visit her. (8), unless there is anything else you want to add, we’ll close the meeting. I hope to see some of you during the week.

Show answer 1. First
2. Now
3. As I said
4. This isn’t always so
5. To put it another way
6. Moving on
7. Talking about that
8. Right

Show All correct answers

In addition to discourse markers, the intonation pattern of the speaker’s voice can also indicate a change of topic. The tone of voice generally falls at the end of one topic, followed by a pause then starts on the next topic in a higher tone.

Here are 2 examples. In the first part, the speaker has clearly indicated that they have finished by having a falling intonation. The second speaker has a rising intonation, indicating more is to come.

IELTS test day listening exercise

IELTS test day listening exercise

For this listening exercise, we’ve used ALL the different question types you will find in the IELTS listening test.

The listening is about a candidate’s experience on test day – this is not a topic you would normally have in the IELTS test (and it is easier than normal IELTS recordings), but is an opportunity for you to get some idea of what other people feel on test day!



Answer the following using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS (this is a short answer question).

1. How did Eileen feel before the test?
Show answer NERVOUS

Circle the correct answer A–C  (this is a multiple choice question).

2. She felt calmer
A. when her friend got her results
B. after she had spoken to her mother
C. the night before the test.
  Show answer B

Complete the sentence below in ONE WORD (this is a sentence completion question).

3. The hardest part of the listening test was ____________________.
Show answer SPELLING

Label the diagram below (this is a labelling a diagram question).

4. In which room was Eileen’s speaking test?
Show answer INTERVIEW ROOM 5

IELTS test day listening exercise

Match a problem with a solution (this is a matching/classifying question).

A. If you feel nervous…
B. If you make a mistake…

5.  stop and rephrase your sentence. Show answer B

6.  stop and take a deep breath. Show answer A

Questions 7-9. Complete the table below using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS/AND OR A NUMBER (this is a table completion question).

 The most difficult section  The most difficult question type
 Writing  (7)  Writing about tables
 Reading  (8)    (9)

7. Show answer TASK 1/ONE 8. Show answer PASSAGE 2/TWO 9. Show answer MULTIPLE CHOICE

Choose the correct letter A–D (this is a labelling a diagram question)
10. What does Eileen recommend just before going in to the test?
Show answer C


Show All correct answers

Click here to read the transcript of the recording Teacher: So Eileen, tell me how you felt just before your test.

Well, it was the first time I had taken a test for such a long time that l was very nervous. Actually, didn’t sleep very well for nearly a week before the test. I felt a little under pressure because a friend of mine had got results a week before, and just his he’d done very well. Anyway, rang my parents the night before, and my mother reminded me that there was no point in worrying, and that made me feel a little calmer.

Teacher: So tell me how things went on the day. What about the listening test?

Eileen (student): Surprisingly, the listening test wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought. The hardest part was spelling, but didn’t feel that the sections got much more difficult as the test went on. By the end I felt quite confident in my answers.

Teacher: Tell me about the speaking. What was that like?

Eileen (student): I didn’t make a very good start. From the waiting area, l was supposed to go up to in end of the corridor and turn right. My interview room was on the right, but I the the room on the left and when showed the interviewer my ID he told me I was in wrong room! Anyway, he took me where I was supposed to go so it wasn’t too bad. Anyway, my real interviewer was great She made me feel so relaxed. Before the interview began, she asked me if taken the test before, and when told her was my first time, she just smiled and said “relax. I did find myself getting a nervous, but have little just took a breath and relaxed. As for the actual interview, I felt that I could done a little better but then I suppose most people feel that. Once or twice l realised I’d made a mistake so just corrected myself and went on

Teacher: Okay. What about the writing test?

Eileen (student): Well, I spent a few minutes too long on Task One l had to write about a table, a they’re easier to write about. Actually, I think tables was hoping for a graph because because the title was are the most difficult Task wasn’t too bad though to something I had studied in my class. I wrote a plan, so I just followed what I had written. Near the end I changed a few parts the plan a of didn’t follow my original idea but I still felt that Id done a good job

Teacher: And finally, then, the reading?

Eileen (student): Well, when the examiner handed out the test, l thought the size of the booklet was a little intimidating. To calm me down, I had a quick look through the three passage before began, and didn’t have much problem with the first and the third, but though Reading Passage 2 was quite difficult. There were some multiple-choice questions and I’ve always found them a little difficult. But just left them and moved on, an found I had a few minutes a the end to go back and answer them

Teacher: Good. Well, just before we finish, do you have any advice you would give to someone just about to take their test?

Eileen (student): Yes, a couple of things actually. A few days before the test, look through the work yo have done, but the night before the test, don’t do anything. Relax and go to bed ear In the morning, have a good breakfast. But the most important advice l would give to avoid speaking or listening to anything but English on the day. Listen to the radio when you get up, and take a portable cassette player to listen to when you’re waiting to go into the test room. Don’t speak your native language even if there are people that you know at the test centre.

Teacher: Well, thanks very much, Eileen. When do you get your results?

Eileen (student): Next Friday, I think.

Teacher: I hope you’ve done well.

Eileen (student): Thanks

Listening for numbers in IELTS listening

Listening for numbers in IELTS listening

In the IELTS listening test, it is very common to have to listen for numbers to get a correct answer. In this exercise, you can practice your listening by listening to the recording and entering the numbers and dates into this news report.

There are three different ways you can try this exercise!

Listening for numbers in IELTS listening1. Look at the numbers below, read the text carefully and logically there is only one place each number can go.
2. Listen to the recording and enter the numbers as you hear them.
3. Look at the numbers first, then listen to the recording and enter the numbers as you hear them (the easiest option!)

You can choose to make this exercise a little easier by showing you all the numbers, or you can listen to the recording without looking at the numbers!

Show all of the numbers (don't click this if you want more of a challenge!)
  • 0.3
  • 6
  • 5.6
  • ¼
  • 17
  • 1100
  • 7 00 000
  • II
  • 4 000 000
  • 30


Good evening and welcome to the Show answer 6 o’clock news. Tonight’s top story: a second earthquake in months has struck Japan. Preliminary reports claim that up to Show answer 1100 people are missing and the damage is estimated to be over $Show answer 700,000 . In other news, unemployment statistics released today show a slight decrease at Show answer 5.6 %, a Show answer 0.3 % drop over last year’s figure of 5.3%. This has come as welcome news to the government, especially with the upcoming general election.

Plans to make Auckland city the new capital of New Zealand have been scrapped. Despite  home to over Show answer 1/4 of the population, there has been overwhelming popular support to maintain Wellington’s status as the nation’s capital.

In entertainment news, Tom Cruise has denied that he will be returning to New Zealand to start filming The Last Samurai Show answer II . In the first movie, The Last Samurai, Cruise was reported to have earned $US Show answer 24,000,000 , and stated that he was looking for another eight-figure deal before signing the contract to do the sequel.

Now to sport, where the All Blacks have come home victorious once again, beating Wales by only one point in a thrilling ending. Wales had kept the lead with 16 points up to half time, but were unable to score again as the All Blacks dominated the second half to finish on Show answer 17 points.

Finally, the weather. It looks like summer has finally arrived with the temperatures on the east coast reaching a high of Show answer 30 degrees tomorrow.

Show All correct answers

Predicting and anticipating in the IELTS listening test – exercise

Predicting and anticipating in the IELTS listening test – exercise

In a previous post we looked at the importance of predicting and anticipating in the IELTS listening test. Practice your skills with these 10 questions by predicting as much as you can.

NOTE: there is no audio for this exercise – this is to improve your predicting skills.

Questions 1 to 5. Complete the missing information. Use NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS OR A NUMBER for each answer.

Rugby International – receipt

Name of ticket holder: Carl Hawkins

Payment method: (1)_____________​

Show answer Looking for a method of payment. Likely to be either cash or credit card but could also be telephone, Internet or in person.

Predicting and anticipating in the IELTS listening test - exerciseNew Zealand All Blacks v (2)____________​ Show answer Given that the receipt is for an international game, you should predict it’s a country, possibly also the nickname of the team (e.g. South Africa or Springboks)

Starts at: (3) _____________​ Show answer Very likely that this is a clock time, likely to be in the afternoon. Slim possibility that the date will also be required.

Number of people (4)______________​ Show answer You should be able to work out that because it is a receipt, it is asking not for the number of people attending the whole match, but how many people are included in this transaction. Judging by questions 6 – 9 it is likely to be only 2. Question 10, with its future grammar referring to the brother, suggests he is not there at the time. Also question 5 only has space for two seat numbers.

Seat number(s) K112 and (5)_____________​ Show answer Logically from question 4, you should be looking for one seat number. As they were booked together this is more than likely to be sequential (K111 or K113) but you should keep an open mind as it could also be J112 or L112.

Questions 6 – 10.

Answer the following questions using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.

6. Why didn’t Carl Hawkins go to the match?​ Show answer The question word is obviously looking for a reason.

7. Where had they planned to meet?​ Show answer This is likely to be a location in reference to a stadium. This could include door number, stand number, seat number, etc. You should also be listening for a preposition of place (i.e. inside, outside, beside, in front) given that the word limit is three words.

8. Why was Jane angry?​ Show answer We know from question 6 that Carl couldn’t go to the match but it was his name on the receipt. This leaves it probable that Jane was either left waiting or couldn’t go herself.

9. What are they doing next Saturday?​ Show answer You should be able to predict a change in tone of the conversation, referring away from past events and using future grammar. You could also anticipate hearing the word ‘Saturday’ or similar (weekend, first day off work, etc). and also  listening for an action verb, possibly connected with Jane’s brother arriving (cleaning the house, meeting him at the airport, etc).

10. When is Jane’s brother arriving?​ Show answer This could be a day of the week, a date or a clock time.

Show All correct answers

Matching and classifying in IELTS listening

Matching and classifying in IELTS listening

Matching and classifying in IELTS listeningMatching and classifying questions test your ability to understand a rephrased sentence and identify key points in the recording, as well as understand relationships between ideas.

You can think of matching questions as trying to find a pair of socks – one sock will match another. Classifying questions are a little different in that you have a category that the sub-sections fit in. Here’s a VERY SIMPLE example: you could have categories like FOOD, CLOTHING and WEATHER. The question would then ask you to ‘categorise’ items like trousers, apples and sunshine.

Matching questions in IELTS

Here’s an example of a matching question (there is no recording for this exercise – it is just an example. See below for a full exercise with audio):

Match the following dates to the statements that follow. Write A, B or C in your answer sheet.

A. 2011
B. 2013
C. 2015

1. The first scientific discovery was made.
2. Dr Ignatius published a landmark research paper
3. The experiment was abandoned.

With this type of question, you are simply matching a number and a letter. Classifying questions are very similar, but commonly use the same letter more than once.

Classifying questions in IELTS

Here’s an example of a classifying question:

Which person states the following:

A. Dr Jameson
B. Dr Walker
C. Dr Bell

1. Further research is essential
2. More finances will be required
3. Government support is not welcome
4. The conclusions drawn in 2013 were incomplete
3. The process of extraction is too expensive

Now practice!

This is a Section 3 example – Questions 28-30 are classifying questions.

Section 3 Questions 21-30

Questions 21-25

Answer the questions below


21. What was the student’s assignment marked out of?

Show answer


22. For which area of the assignment did the student get the best marks?

Show answer

Report format

23. In addition to the internet, what was the only other reference source used by the student?

Show answer

(The) course textbook

24. Which orientation did the student not attend at the beginning of the course?

Show answer

(The) library orientation

25. What should the student have included into their question about food and drink bought in cafes?

Show answer

(An) additional category

Questions 26 and 27

Complete the sentences below

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer

26. When designing a questionnaire the writer should not assume a …. or point of view exists without sufficient evidence.

Show answer


27. The student’s questionnaire would have required too much ………….to be effective for business use.

Show answer

time (and/&) labour

Questions 28-30

What does the lecturer tell the student about each book?

Choose your answers from the list and write the correct letter A-F next to questions 28-30

  1. Needs updating
  2. Up to date
  3. Easy to understand
  4. Expensive
  5. Too simplistic
  6. Realistic

28. Qualitative Analysis, (Gaston) _______________

Show answer


29. Effective Research Analysis (English & Gatehill) _______________

Show answer

30. Techniques that Work (Sandbrookes) _______________

Show answer


Labelling a diagram in the listening test

Labelling a diagram

One of the question types that you may face in the IELTS listening test is when you are required to label a diagram, map or plan. Typically you will be given an illustration with some labels already in place, but others you need to add as you listen to the recording.

One useful hint is that the answers in the listening test always come in order, so in the example below, the first answer you can expect to hear is the answer to question 1, then question 2, then question 3 etc.

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the other labels already given, and to think about how the other parts of the diagram, map or plan which you are required to label may be described.

Practice by taking this short example below (this is an extract from a Section 2 IELTS speaking test). Start the recording, then type your answers into the boxes below. Click ‘Check your answers’ to see if you are correct.

labelling a diagram

Click here to check your answers
  1. Water level light
  2. Boiler metre (or Boiler meter)
  3. Steam tap
  4. Drainage pipe


Labelling a diagram practice exercise

Labelling a diagram practice exercise

In this post, there is a short listening exercise on labelling a diagram. We recommend reading the lesson about labelling a diagram before beginning this exercise.

Listen to the recording and identify the labels for questions 1 to 5.

NOTE: This is not a complete IELTS recording – it is only a short excerpt.

Labelling a diagram practice exercise

1. Show answer


2. Show answer


3. Show answer


4. Show answer


5. Show answer


Text completion questions in IELTS listening

Text completion questions in IELTS listening

NOTE: Take a look at our video lesson for this question type here.

Text-completion questions in IELTS listening are the same as in the reading. They can be either in the form of a summary or as short sentences which you have to complete.


Text completion questions in IELTS listeningTip 1: With either type, you can expect some information on the recording that will not be required to answer the questions. This is a good opportunity to use your note-taking skills, just in case you miss anything. You will have a little time after the listening test (while you are transferring your answers) to complete any remaining answers.


Tip 2: As with all question types in the listening test, the answer for text completion questions will come in the order of the recording. That is, if you hear the answer to question 2 but haven’t heard the answer to question 1, you’ve already missed it!


Tip 3: The most useful skill with this question type is to look quickly through the summary or sentences you are completing and highlight key words. This will help you identify the important section of the recording when you hear it. You should also use the predicting and anticipating skills presented in this lesson.


Tip 4: Once you believe you have found the correct answer, read the completed text including your answer, making sure that the sentence is grammatically accurate. For example:

Many people argue that harsher (1)________ would reduce crime rates.

You head the speaker referring to ‘laws’ and ‘the law’ during the recording, and you think the answer is ‘the law’, so you add this to the sentence and it becomes…

Many people argue that harsher (1) the law would reduce crime rates.

This is grammatically incorrect, so when transferring your answers at the end of the test, your best chance of getting the correct answer is to change your response to better suit:

Many people argue that harsher (1) laws would reduce crime rates.

However, it is VERY STRONGLY recommended that your answer stay within the word or words you hear on the recording (thanks to Magnus Ukeje for reiterating this point in the comments below!).

Practice exercise 1 – summary completion

Listen to the recording and fill in the gaps using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND OR A NUMBER. Remember to use predicting skills before starting the recording (spend no more than 30 seconds!)

Amongst increasing (1)_____ and political pressure to quit, there is finally some good news for smokers. Research presented to the (2)_____ of Cardiology states that there are sufficient beneficial (3)_____ in two glasses of red wine to suspend the negative impact that smoking (4)_____ has on the functioning of arteries. Of course, the (5)_____ do not suggest that drinking red wine allows you to smoke as much as you like, and it is still some distance from finding any kind of drug that is capable of reversing the harmful effects of (6)____ smoking. The health effects connected with red wine are not really new. The Romans and (7)_____ all considered it as a form of medicine, possibly because of the abundance of polyphenols, naturally occurring chemicals which have a (8)_____ effect on the arteries.


Completion question 1. Click here to see the answer


Completion question 2. Click here to see the answer
European society


Completion question 3. Click here to see the answer


Completion question 4. Click here to see the answer
One / 1 cigarette


Completion question 5. Click here to see the answer


Completion question 6. Click here to see the answer
Long term


Completion question 7. Click here to see the answer
(The) Greeks


Completion question 7. Click here to see the answer


Practice exercise 2 – sentence completion

Now listen to the recording and complete the sentences using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND OR A NUMBER.

1 The Health Sciences building is next to the _____.
2 There are _____ each term.
3 In the first module, students will study health and safety in _____.
4 Students will have to complete a _____ by the end of the course.
5 There will be speakers from various _____ backgrounds.


Completion question 1. Click here to see the answer
History department


Completion question 2. Click here to see the answer
2 / Two modules


Completion question 3. Click here to see the answer
The workplace


Completion question 4. Click here to see the answer


Completion question 5. Click here to see the answer

Table completion questions in IELTS listening

Table completion questions in IELTS listening

Often in the IELTS listening test, you are required to complete missing information given in a table. One of the most useful skills  with this type of question is to look at the information already given and predict some of the answer types you will be listening for.

Table completion questions in IELTS listeningFor example, what type of answer would you expect for the table-completion question below?

Complete the table below with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS OR A NUMBER.

Travel Abroad Ltd – summer trips to Europe departing from the UK

 Destination Paris  Berlin  (1)_______
 Mode of transport  (2)_________  Coach  Train
 Date of departure   12 May  17 May  (3)_______
 Cost of trip   £712   (4)__________   £245
 Travel time  Less than one hour  18 hours  2 days

This is a relatively simple example (although this is something you could be required to complete for Section 1), but it shows the basic skills that you should use. With table-completion questions, look at the other data in the
table. Often you will see patterns which will indicate the type of information you should be listening for. If one column has nouns, then it is reasonable to expect you are looking for a noun. Also, be logical – use the information you have to roughly predict the information you will be listening for. For example, it is logical that a coach trip will be cheaper than a train trip.

Here’s some of the information you could have predicted about each answer:

Answer 1: logically, this would be a place, and likely a city (possibly even a capital city as Paris and Berlin are both capitals). If your geography of Europe and surrounding areas is good, you should also have predicted it is likely to be some distance from Paris, Berlin or London as the trip is by train and will take 2 days. However, it is still in Europe as stated in the title of the table (‘trips to Europe’).

Answer 2: you should have predicted that this is a more expensive but faster trip to the destination, so likely to be by aeroplane.

Answer 3: Clearly this a date, but you should also be able to estimate that it is likely to be close to May as this is the date for the other two trips, and also that the date must be in summer (the title of the table is ‘Summer trips’)

Answer 4: obviously a price in pounds sterling (UK currency). This is probably going to be the cheapest of all three because it is travelling by coach, which is generally cheaper than a train, and takes 18 hours.

Now try with an audio recording.

Before listening to the recording, look at the table and predict the type of missing information. Use the table headings at the top and on the left hand side to help you. Then play the recording and complete the table.

NOTE: This is a practice exercise – there are no word limits for these answers.

Sam John Mary
Attitude to recycling Doesn’t have time (1) (2)
Availability (3) No local recycling areas (4)
Ideas for the future (5) A reward scheme for
people who recycle



Click here to check your answers

This is a practice exercise with no word limit, so you do not have to have the EXACT wording below.

  1. Thinks it can be difficult
  2. Always recycles
  3. Limited local facilities
  4. Very limited facilities
  5. Fine offenders