IELTS Listening Part 1 is a dialogue (2 people talking – often a phone conversation).
Someone is usually asking for information in everyday situations e.g. joining instructions for a gym or getting information from a Tourist Information Centre.
- It’s designed to be the ‘easiest’ part of the Listening Test.
- You usually have to fill in some numbers e.g. a telephone number, a date, a price, a house number.
- You usually have to spell something e.g. a name or an address.
But there are many ways to lose points without realising it.
Here are 5 ways to avoid losing points, using examples from the Listening below entitled “LIBRARY INFORMATION”.
Complete the notes below using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer.
Minimum joining age (Example): 18 years (Answer)
For registration, must take
• two 1. __________________ and
• two forms of I.D. e.g. driving licence, 2. _______________
Cost to join per year (without current student card): 3. £ ___________
Number of items allowed: (members of public) 4. ___________
Login times: four weeks
Fines start at 5. £ ______
Computers can be booked up to 6. _____ hours in advance
Library holds most national papers, a 7. _______
and magazines need 8. _________
to use photocopier
Creative Writing class
• tutor is John 9. ________________ and held on 10. ___________ evenings
IELTS Listening Part 1 Tips
1. Always check the number of words allowed
However many practice tests you do, always read the instructions and underline the number of words you can write in the space.
Question1: For registration, you must take 2 ____________.
You hear: “You’ll need to bring 2 passport photos with you”.
Answer: (passport)* photos/ (passport)* photographs
If you are only allowed ONE word, for example, and the answer you heard is ‘passport photos‘ just write ‘photos‘.
If you are allowed TWO words, then write both words for safety.
*Notice: in the Cambridge Practice Test Answer keys, any words in (brackets) are optional.
2. Check for plurals
Although it may seem simple and obvious, Part 1 tests your plurals and the various spelling patterns of plurals.
Q1 and Q7: So in the example above, the correct spelling is of course ‘photos‘ and NOT ‘photoes’ or ‘photo’s’.
Review spelling rules for plural nouns and irregular plurals e.g.
- party – parties
- dish – dishes
- potato – potatoes
- child – children
- leaf – leaves
Other spelling rules
The answer for Question 2 is ‘bank statement’.
My students often mis-spell this by dropping the ‘e’: ‘bank statment’*.
Learn common spelling rules such as the ‘magic e’ rule.
3. Practise spelling out names
Question 9: tutor is John _____________
You hear: G-R-A-N-T-I-N-G-H-A-M
Make sure you’re confident about using the similar-sounding letters of the alphabet e.g. i/y, i/e, u/w, j/g, p/b.
Also, some students find it hard to distinguish between sounds like ‘n’ and ‘m’, so a good background knowledge of names often helps (e.g. there are many place names ending in ‘ingham’ such as ‘Birmingham’ ‘Nottingham’ ‘Buckingham Palace’.
Practise things like ‘Double l’ (ll) and alternative or unusual spellings of common names e.g. John/Jon, Sean/Shaun/Sion.
4. Dates and numbers
You need to be able to distinguish the difference between, say, 15 and 50, especially for prices (e.g. £15.50).
With dates and times, check you know the different ways of saying e.g. 31st March and things like ‘a quarter to two/1.45’.
One good thing is that IELTS markers are not strict about how you write the date, so it’s much better to write ‘Wed’ or ‘Feb’ than get the spelling wrong for Wednesday or February.
Short versions of dates are OK, as long as they are correct e.g. 31 Mar, 31.03, March 31s, 3/31.
And practise things like ‘0’ = ‘oh’ or ‘zero’ for phone numbers.
IELTS Listening Part 1 Tricks
5. Watch out for ‘corrections’
There will often be a correction, as we can see here:
Question 10: Creative Writing class held on _____________ evenings.
You hear: ‘He’s here on Thursday evenings, no sorry, Friday‘.
Make sure you write down the correction (usually the second answer you hear).
This often happens with spelling and phone numbers – ‘Did you say 495 344? No – 495 334′.
The speaker will use intonation to emphasise the correct number – they will say it louder, more slowly and with a different ‘pitch’.
Other common Listening tricks
In the example above, there are lots of tricks where they check if you’re listening carefully.
Question 3: Cost to join per year (without student card): £ ______
You hear: Well it’s free for students here but otherwise it’s £125 per year or £25 if you’ve got a current student card from another college.
Question 4: Number of items allowed: (members of public) _______
You hear: ‘We allow 12 items borrowed at any one time if you’re a student. However, it’s only 8 items for members of the public’.
Answer: Number of items allowed: (members of public) 8
Question: Computers can be booked up to ____ hours in advance.
You hear: ‘Most people book 24 hours in advance. Sometimes you can get one with 6 hours notice. However the earliest you can book a computer is 48 hours before you need it’.
Question: Fines start at £______
You hear: ‘The minimum fine is £1.50 but it can go up to £5′.
Answer: Fines start at £1.50.
Here’s another example of how ‘at least’ and ‘a minimum’ are used to test your understanding.
Common mistakes to avoid in Listening
Listening Part 1 FAQs
- Is it ok to write my answers in CAPITAL LETTERS?
Yes. I often recommend it if your handwriting is unclear.
- Is it ok to use short forms for common words like “Wed” for “Wednesday” or “Feb” for “February”?
Yes. The examiners are looking for correct answers. It’s better to write “Wed” or “Feb” than to write the full word with a spelling error.
- Do I need to write “th” for dates like 6th of February?
It doesn’t matter how you write the dates. You can write 6 Feb, feb 6, 6.02, 6/2 etc.
Just be sensible about the word count e.g. ‘the sixth of February’ is FOUR words (the examiners are looking for correct answers, so they would probably accept it, but it’s better to stay safe and within the word count).
- How many words is a word with a hyphen?
Don’t worry too much about words with hyphens. The examiner is looking for correct answers. Review hyphens here.
- What are the most common gapfill words in the IELTS test?
I’ve made a list of the 100 most common gapfill words here.
More Listening Tips
More Listening Practice
Get all of the Listening Lessons here.
- Complete guide to Listening Skills
- Pronunciation for Listening
- Signals and Signposts (Part 3 – Sandy Tutorial)
- Signals and Signposts (Part 4 – Business Cultures)
- Listening MCQs and Tables (Part 4 – Wildlife)
- MCQs and Distractors (Part 3 – Thor)
- MCQs and Distractors (Part 4 – Moving Pictures)
- Modals in the Listening Test (Part 4 – Ireland)
- Listening gap-fill (Public Buildings)
- Gap-fill in Section 4 (Gender and Finance)
- Distractors related to TENSES (Part 2 – Dinosaur Museum)
- Distractors related to TENSES (Theatre + MAP)
- Table completion tips (Part 2 – Manham Port)
- Completing a TABLE (Part 2 – cots)
- Labelling a MAP (Fiddy Farm)
- How to follow directions (Fiddy Farm)
- Avoiding distractors (Part 4 – Underground House)
- Australian accent (Part 3 – Australian bees)
- Essential Vocabulary for Listening (Soil and CO2)
- Extra MCQ practice (Asiatic Lions)
- MCQs in Section 4 (Doctors)
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