There are 4 parts in the IELTS Listening Test.
- You must write on the Question Paper as you listen (Paper-based test)
- You have 10 minutes to transfer your answers. (Paper-based test)
- You will lose point for mis-spelling.
- The test gets increasingly difficult as you move from Part 1 to Part 4.
IELTS Listening Part 1: 5 tricks to watch out for
IELTS Listening Section 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 have to fill in some numbers e.g. a telephone number, a date, a price, a house number.
- You have to spell something e.g. a name or an address.
But there are many ways to lose points without realising it.
Here’s an example.
I’ve written some of the tricks onto the question paper here so that you can see them, or read my full comments below.
1. 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 – this is true of all parts of the Reading and Listening Texts.
Q1: If you are only allowed ONE word, for example, and the answer you heard is ‘passport photos‘ then of course, just write ‘photos‘.
If you are allowed TWO words, then write both words for safety.
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 e.g. party – parties, dish – dishes, potato – potatoes!
3. Practise spelling out names
Q9: 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.
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.
Q10: There will often be a correction, as we can see here: ‘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 tricks
In the example above, there are lots of tricks where they check if you’re listening carefully.
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.
Answer: Cost to join per year (without student card): £125
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
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’.
Answer: Computers can be booked up to 48 hours in advance.
You hear: ‘The minimum fine is £1.50 but it can go up to £5′.
Answer: Fines start at £1.50.
Follow my IELTS Listening Playlist on YouTube.
Common mistakes to avoid in Listening
More Listening Tips
Get more listening practice here.
How to listen for signals and signposts (especially in Section 3).
Why you need to learn Modals of Deduction for the Listening Test.
How to do Multiple Choice Questions in Listening Part 4.
How to identify the distractors in Listening Part 3.
How to deal with a difficult Listening Part 4.
How to do a Gapfill Summary in Listening Part 4.
How to choose from a list in Listening Part 2.
How to complete a table in Listening Part 2.
How to label a map in Listening Part 2.
How to recognise distractors in Listening Part 4.
Multiple Choice and Tables in Part 4.
Listening to an expert interview (and an Australian accent) in Part 3.
How to review IELTS vocab topics through Listening Part 4.