Top 8 strategies for the IELTS Academic Listening test
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8 strategies to achieve a perfect score in IELTS Listening

IELTS listening strategies

Students and candidates who prepare for IELTS know that you get scores for each part of the test. What is your perfect score in IELTS Listening? Of course, you aim at 7+, and it is trouble-free if you know the strategies to achieve it.

Test-takers also believe that the challenge of the Listening test is increasing as you progress through it. To some extent, it does. What is the catch then? Candidates make many mistakes in part 1, which seems to be the less complicated. This is because there you need to write down the exact information such as numbers or names, or dates or spell words correctly. So, this increase in the level of difficulty is quite disputable. This means you should be attentive in each part of the test. And here comes our foremost strategy for the IELTS Listening test.

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Strategy #1. Keep an eye open during the whole test.

Unlike Reading or Writing sections of the IELTS Academic, you will not have time to think about what you have read, written or heard. You will hear the recording only once, so you won’t have a chance to hear what was said again.

Moreover, while listening, you will have to read the questions and give your answers. Here you have to be on your toes, because you will often hear a paraphrased version of what you read in the questions, i.e. you will read the different words, but the meaning will be the same. If you do not catch it, you will not be able to match it with the questions.

The truth is you will do a monumental work for around 30 minutes by paraphrasing and answering questions. But now, you know the tip.

In our course, we will teach you how to paraphrase, and you will learn how you can benefit from paraphrasing at the exam.

Strategy #2. Read the questions straight away.

At the beginning of part 1, the speaker on the recording will tell some information. You will also hear, ‘now you have some time to look at Part 1’. You do not need to wait for this command. Instead, start reading the questions immediately.

As soon as you have answered the questions from the previous part, do so in each part of the Listening test. Before anything else, focus on keywords such as nouns, verbs, adjectives that carry the meaning (underline them in the paper-based version).

Also, try to predict the answers. If the task is to fill in the gaps, try to guess what type of word is missing. In a map, look at all the objects that have names, and think what names you could give to other objects.

Strategy # 3. Read the instructions carefully and keep them in mind.

Once you have read the task, try to remember about it while answering. The most common mistakes happen due to lack of attention. For example, the candidates forget the number of options they have to choose, or how many words they should write in a gap, or even if they have to write numbers or letters. You do not need to spend too much time on reading the instructions, but check up on what to do.

Strategy # 4. Be prepared for the variety of distractors.

They are wrong answers that are similar to the correct ones, designed to see whether the person being tested can notice the difference. For example, there is one form of distractor that is very common in part 1 of the IELTS Listening test. This is when you hear a speaker correct him/herself, or the other speaker will correct them. In order to avoid mistakes, do not assume the first thing you hear as the answer is the actual answer – listen carefully to what comes after that.

Strategy #5. Listen to question 1, keep question 2 in mind.

When you are listening for one question, you never know when the information about it will start and when it will finish, and the speaker will move on to the next question. In order not to miss this transition, always keep in mind two questions that go one after another.

READ ABOUT: What to expect at the IELTS Speaking test

Strategy #6. Once you’ve answered one question, switch to the next one.

Don’t keep thinking about the previous question even if you’re not sure about the answer you’ve given. The speaker is already talking about another one. If you continue thinking about the previous questions, chances are you will not answer the following ones and lose your scores.

Even if you have selected a wrong answer, but listen further, there is more chance for you to score higher, than if you keep thinking about the same question and lose track of the recording.

Strategy #7. Do not leave blank answers.

Sometimes test-takers do not hear all the answers. If this happens to you, apply your logic. There might be hints in speaker’s intonation, for example. Very often speakers use linking devices that help you follow their thoughts. Even you are not sure, answer ALL questions. What if the answer you write turns to be correct? Candidates are not penalized for the wrong ones.

Strategy #8. Check your answers.

At the end of the test, you will have from 2 to 10 minutes to look through your answers, depending on the version of the IELTS exam you choose. Use this time to scan your answers for grammar mistakes and spelling. If you do not spell the words correctly, or, for example, write a singular noun instead of plural, you will lose points.

These were the basic strategies on IELTS Listening. They are easy to follow. However, in our course we give candidates more specific guidance on each question type. Join us to get more confidence, learn more tips and tricks, do practice tasks and get feedback from experienced IELTS tutors.

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We also recommend you reading:

Key facts you need to know about the IELTS Listening test

What IELTS Reading is about

6 typical mistakes in IELTS essays

Helpful idioms for IELTS Speaking

Download your Academic Writing Guide on how to use linking words

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