Avoiding distractors in the IELTS Listening test is an essential skill that you must work on in your test preparation.
Distractors are basically INCORRECT answers that might sound correct (because they use words that are used in the question).
We have already looked at avoiding distractors in Part 1 gapfill questions.
The Listening below is a good example of how distractors are used in Multiple Choice Questions.
You will usually hear a reference to each of the 3 choices (a, b and c).
- The distractors usually use almost exactly the same words.
- The CORRECT answers are usually paraphrased and use synonyms.
Test yourself with the listening below, and then examine the tapescript to see the distractors.
Avoiding distractors in Multiple Choice Questions
The Underground House
31. The owners of the underground house
A had no experience of living in a rural area
B were interested in environmental issues
C wanted a professional project manager
31 The owners of the underground house
B were interested in environmental issues
One of the interesting things about this project is that the owners – both professionals but not architects – wanted to be closely involved so they decided to manage the project themselves.
[The Distractor for B uses the same words: ‘professional’ and ‘wanted’ and ‘project’]
The chief aim was to create somewhere that was as environmentally-friendly as possible.
[The correct answer is a paraphrase of ‘interested in environmental issues’]
But at the same time they wanted to live somewhere peaceful – they’d both grown up in a rural area and disliked urban life.
[The Distractor for A = ‘rural area’ = same words]
32. What does the speaker say about the site of the house?
A The land was quite cheap
B Stone was being extracted nearby.
C It was in a completely unspoilt area
32 What does the speaker say about the site of the house?
A the land was quite cheap
So the first thing they did was to look for a site. And they found a disused stone quarry in a beautiful area.
[Distractor for B – a disused stone quarry, so stone was NOT being extracted nearby]
The price was relatively low, and they liked the idea of recycling the land.
[Correct answer – the land was quite cheap – synonyms for ‘relatively low’]
As it was, the quarry was an ugly blot on the landscape, and it wasn’t productive any long either.
[Distractor for C – the area was beautiful but NOT completely unspoilt – because the quarry was an ugly blot]
Part 2: Gapfill questions
Write ONE WORD and/or a NUMBER
- Built in the earth, with two floors.
- The south-facing side was constructed of two layers of 33_______________.
- Photovoltaic tiles were attached.
- A layer of foam was used to improve the 34____________ of the building.
- To increase the light, the building has many internal mirrors and 35_______________.
- In future the house may produce more 36 ______________________ than it needs.
- Recycled wood was used for the 37 _______________________ of the house.
- The system for processing domestic 38 ___________________ is organic.
- The use of large quantities of 39________________________ in construction was environmentally harmful.
- But the house will have paid its ‘environmental debt’ within 40 _____________.
- Built in the earth, with two floors
- The south-facing side was constructed of two layers of 33 glass
They consulted various architects and looked at a number of designs before finally deciding on one. It was a design for a sort of underground house, and it was built into the earth itself with two storeys. The north, east and west sides were set in the earth, and only the sloping, south-facing side was exposed to light. That was made of a double layer of very strong glass.
- Photovoltaic tiles were attached
- A layer of foam was used to improve the 34 insulation of the building
There were also photovoltaic tiles fixed to the top and bottom of this sloping wall. These are tiles that are designed to store energy from the sun. And the walls had a layer of foam around them too, to increase the insulation.
- To increase the light, the building has many internal mirrors and 35 windows
Now what is of interest to us about this project is the features which make the building energy-efficient. Sunlight floods in through the glass wall, and to maximise it there are lots of mirrors and windows inside the house. That helps to spread the light around. So that’s the first thing – light is utilised as fully as possible.
- In future the house may produce more 36 energy than it needs
In addition, the special tiles on the outside convert energy from the sun and generate some of the house’s electricity. In fact, it’s possible that in future the house may even generate an electricity surplus, and that the owners will be able to sell some to the national grid.
- Recycled wood was used for the 37 floors of the house
As well as that, wherever possible, recycled materials have been used. For example, the floors are made of reclaimed wood. And the owners haven’t bought a single item of new furniture – they just kept what they already had.
- The system for processing domestic 38 waste is organic
And then there’s the system for dealing with the waste produced in the house. This is dealt with organically – it’s purified by being filtered through reed beds which have been planted for that purpose in the garden. So the occupants of the house won’t pollute the land or use any damaging chemicals.
- The use of large quantities of 39 concrete in construction was environmentally harmful
It’s true that the actual construction of the house was harmful to the environment, mainly because they had to use massive amounts of concrete – one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide in manufacturing. And as you know, this is very damaging to the environment. In total, the house construction has released 70 tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Now that’s a frightening thought.
- But the house will have paid its ‘environmental debt’ within 40. 15 years.
However, once the initial ‘debt’ has been cleared – and it’s been calculated that this will only take 15 years – the underground house won’t cost anything environmentally I mean – because unlike ordinary houses, it is run in a way that is completely environmentally friendly.
Listen to the podcasts here:Questions 31 – 32 Questions 33 – 34 Questions 35 – 40
Do you need motivation, high-quality materials, a roadmap, feedback, guidance and an IELTS specialist teacher?
Upgrade to the Members Academy today.
Get instant access to all courses, challenges, boot camps, live classes, interactive and engaging classes, 1:1 support, and a friendly tight-knit community of like-minded learners to get you to Band 7+.