How to do multiple choice tasks in IELTS Listening
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How to do multiple choice tasks in IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening multiple choice

When it comes to answering multiple-choice questions in the IELTS Listening sections, many students and candidates tend to overcomplicate it. There are at least two things you can do to make it more complicated for yourself: trying to read all the questions and all the choices and trying to remember all the options.  What can you do to avoid this? How can you keep it simple and give the correct answer to get an excellent score in IELTS?

What is multiple choice about?

In IELTS Listening, there are two variations of this task: with one or several correct answers. You will see immediately which one it is. If you have a question and three options A, B, C — you need to choose one correct answer. If there are many options, you should choose two or three of them — check the instructions to learn how many. For example:

Multiple choice questions are common for parts 2, 3 and 4 of IELTS Listening test. You can expect to have 2 – 4 speakers, and it is always in a general or academic context. This means you might hear: students discussing a presentation, a tutor giving feedback to a student, group mates planning a project etc. Sometimes the speakers agree or disagree, or they might change their minds as they are speaking.

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What is the most confusing for test-takers is that there is too much text to read. What is more, there are three possible options in the question. The speakers often mention information and say vocabulary from all of them.  For example, the answer may be B, but you can hear vocabulary from A and C as well. These are called distractors.

In IELTS, the purpose of multiple choice questions is to test a wide range of skills. You may be required to have a detailed understanding of specific points or an overall understanding of the main points of the listening text.

5 steps to answer the questions

Before you listen, you will have some time to prepare yourself. There are two steps you have to make before your start listening and before you hear the recording. They are very important.

Step 1. Look at the title and questions quickly.

This will allow you to become familiar with the topic, i.e. you will understand better what the conversation is going to be about. You will also prepare yourself and scaffold your listening.

Step 2. Read the questions and options, and underline keywords in them.

Keywords are important words that will draw your attention while you listen to the audio recording. Generally, you will want to avoid underlining adverbs, pronouns, or basic adjectives.

Focus on the meaning of these keywords. You do not have much time: around thirty seconds or so. If you need to, try to say the keywords in simple English to yourself. Your aim is to get to the meaning of the questions and options.

READ ABOUT: Tips for note completion questions in IELTS Listening

Now, you will listen to recording, and here are the next steps to follow.

Step 3. Listen to the introduction to the recording to understand the context better.

Do not skip the introduction — it will tell you a bit more about the conversation. For example, in this introduction the speaker will say, ‘You will hear a customer arranging with a shipping agent to send a large box overseas.’

Step 4. Listen further and answer the questions.

Now, you will hear the conversation. It is time to answer the questions. Always think about one question, but also keep an eye on the next one. You never know when the information about it will begin. As you hear the options mentioned, cross out obvious distractions. It is very important. All options may be mentioned, but only one of them is correct.

Remember that in IELTS Listening almost everything is paraphrased. What you read in questions and what you hear will come in different words. Listen for the same meaning, not only the same words.

For example:

You will see:


You will hear:
Choose the correct letter, A, B or C.


9 Type of insurance chosen


A Economy  (I’ve been stung before with economy insurance)

B Standard

C Premium (I’ll go for the highest)

A OK right. Now obviously insurance is an important thing to consider and our companies are able to offer very good rates in a number of different all-inclusive packages.


B Sorry, could you explain a bit more?


A Yes, sorry, um. There’s really three rates according to quality of insurance cover – there’s the highest comprehensive cover which is Premium rate, then there’s standard rate and then there’s economy rate. That one will only cover the cost of the contents second hand.


B Oh I’ve been stung before with economy insurance so I’ll go for the highest.

10 Customer wants goods delivered to


A port (The port’d be fine – I’ve got transport that end.)

B home

C depot

A Mh’hm and can I just check would you want home delivery or to a local

depot or would you want to pick it up at the nearest port?


B The port’d be fine – I’ve got transport that end.


A Fine and will you be paying by credit card?


B Can I pay by cheque?

Step 5. Check that you have answers to all questions.

If have not answered all the questions, do guesswork. Don’t leave any blank answers. Chances are you will choose the correct answer and get a better score for the listening section.

Go to our course that provides you not only with examples, but teaches you strategies for all the parts of IELTS Academic. You will learn and practise step by step, save all the tips and tools in your personal Knowledge Bank, get 24/7 support and instant feedback from our IELTS experts. Depending on how much time you have, we provide you with a study-plan that will help you manage your IELTS preparation.

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