Top Tips for All Four IELTS Listening Sections

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There is so much advice floating around online, in textbooks, and in classrooms, it’s difficult to know what to focus on in your IELTS preparation. So, today, I’ll give you the best tips for all four IELTS Listening sections.tips four ielts listening sections

Do you feel confident in your strategies to tackle IELTS Listening?

Firstly, you must prepare yourself by knowing what exactly to expect.

The general information you need to know is:

  • IELTS Listening Section 1- 2 or more people talking about general topics
  • IELTS Listening Section 2- 1 person talking about a general topic
  • IELTS Listening Section 3- 2 or more people talking about academic topics
  • IELTS Listening Section 4- 1 person talking about an academic topic

Top Tip IELTS Listening Section 1

Start Strong

Just because Section 1 is the easiest, that doesn’t mean that you can relax!

You must begin the Listening test by following the strategies that you have learned, such as listening to the introduction carefully, reading the directions and following them.

By the time you are ready to take the IELTS exam, you should have learned and practiced a clear system of strategies. Start right away using these tips, such as focusing on key words and being an active listener.

Top Tip IELTS Listening Section 2

Practice Listening to Different Accents

In Section 2, although the speaker will probably talk about a familiar topic, it is only one person talking the whole time.

For many students, paying attention to only one person talking is more difficult than keeping track of multiple speakers, especially if the person has an accent!

Therefore, you should really prepare yourself for every possibility on the exam.

Click here to see resources for listening to different accents. It might be hard at first, but, I promise, it will get easier as you practice.

Top Tip IELTS Listening Section 3

Following Multiple Speakers

In Section 3, there are usually two people talking about a topic that is a little more complicated. IELTS says it is an “academic” topic, but, really, it could be a variety of topics. The difference between the “academic” and the “general” topics are that the academic ones are not personal and are usually less familiar to the general public.

In order to practice keeping track of multiple speakers while they talk about unfamiliar topics, you should practice by using audioscripts and, as always, follow the strategies for being an active listener.

Sometimes there are more than two people talking. This adds an additional level of difficulty. Listen to this episode to learn an activity for preparing for this situation.

Top Tip IELTS Listening Section 4

Focus on Key Words

Section 4 is always the most difficult section. It is only one person talking about a (probably) unfamiliar topic.

First, don’t panic if you don’t understand everything. You probably won’t! Focus on key words, and follow along as the person talks.

Secondly, practice with resources that mimic this section, such as TED talks, and the interview show on npr.org called Fresh Air. Although this is an interview show, the guest does talk for long periods while telling stories. The show also has a tapescript that you can read along with while you listen.

What do you think of today’s top tips?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!

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  • 1) start strong by following the directions
    2) focus on key words
    3) listen to different speakers
    with various accents
    4) use online resources