IELTS Listening Strategies

In this article, we will discuss the most important IELTS listening strategies that you can take to improve your listening skills  and undoubtedly increase your score.

IELTS Listening Strategies (Before test Day)

Taking your time to learn and practice these important IELTS listening strategies will make answering Listening questions a lot easier and undoubtedly increase your score.

1. Listening for relaxation

Listening for relaxation is important since you can choose to listen to what you are interested in. For example:

  • Short stories.
  • Songs.
  • Movies.

While you are listening for relaxation, you don’t need to take notes. If you want to know the meaning of a new word, write it down immediately while you are listening and then use your dictionary to find the meaning later. This way helps you be able to keep relaxing without worrying that you must understand and learn every new word you hear.

2. Listening to main ideas

This method helps you listen for general information rather than specific details. For example, you could listen for things such as:

  • The general topic.
  • Cause and effect.
  • Problems and solutions.
  • Comparisons and contrasts.

Listening to the main ideas will help you understand and follow the context of a conversation. This way then helps you to identify the specific information for your answers in the test.

3. Listening for specific information

This means you need to focus on listening for details such as:

  • Numbers: dates, times, amounts, percentages, credit card details, telephone numbers, etc.
  • Names: places (eg, names of streets, countries, cities), people, groups and organisations, etc.

4. Listening again and again

I recommend that you should listen to the same recording several times when you practice listening to anything in English at home. This way will help you learn or find something new when you listen again and certainly improve your listening skill more quickly than if you only listened to everything once.


Your IELTS listening score will improve if you use these five tactics. IELTS listening strategies may appear easy, but they might mean the difference between achieving the score you need and not getting it.

IELTS Listening Strategies and Tips

Here are some IELTS Listening Strategies and Tips that you can try while doing the IELTS Listening test.

Before listening:

In the IELTS test, you will have 30 seconds at the beginning of each section to look at the Question Booklet before listening. During these 30 seconds, there are three main things you should do to improve your score:

1. Read the instructions carefully.

The instructions are usually in italics and sometimes in BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS . Read the instructions carefully so that you know what to do and predict what you will hear. Think about who is talking, where they are and what the topic is. In the exam you will only have a short time for this, so do it as quickly as possible.

If the instruction tells you to write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer. This means that you are allowed to write one, two or three words as your answer. However, if you write four, or more than four words, you will receive no marks for this question, even if your answer is correct. Be careful!

If you look at your question paper, it will always tell you how many words you need for the answer. It will give you a rule. For example, if the instruction tells you to write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each.

2. Read the questions, ensure you understand them and underline the key words.

In the questions, the key words are usually:

Nouns: people or things (e.g., “students”, “New York”, “cat”, “dog”, or “library”)

Verbs: actions words (e.g., “walk”, “sing”, “drink”, “go”, or “run”)

Adjectives: words that describe nouns (e.g., “friendly” or “beautiful”, “noisy”, “quiet”, “big”, “small”)

Adverbs: words that describe verbs (e.g., “listen carefully” or “study hard”) Prepositions: e.g., “at”, “in”, “on”, “in front of”, “before”, “after”.

Question words: e.g., “who”, “what”. “when”, “where”, “why”, “how”, “how often”, “how much”, “how many”, “how far”, “how long”, etc.

Key words are usually not :

  • Articles (e.g., a, an, the)
  • Conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or, because)


  • What subjects is Peter studying ? (The keywords are underlined)
  • How much does it cost ? (The keywords are underlined)

3. Predict answer types (e.g. name, number, noun, adjective, verb, singular, plural).

While listening:

  • Listen carefully to the instructions.
  • Understand the instructions and questions.
  • Only look at the key words you underlined. Do not read everything again.
  • Stay focused – it’s quite easy to miss the answers if you lack concentration, even for a moment.
  • While you listen, write down the possible answers that you hear so that you don’t forget them when you decide on the correct answer.
  • Note that the answers are always in order.

After listening:

  • Ensure that you have answered each question. Don’t leave answers blank. Make a good guess if you are not sure.
  • · Check your answers and transfer them carefully to the Answer Sheet.