7 tips to improve your IELTS listening score

  • Circle keywords before each question to make sure you know when an answer is coming.
  • Use the 30 seconds before and after each section to predict answers.This will help you catch the answer when you hear it. Students with a Band 7 or Band 8 can predict answers with a high level of accuracy.
  • Understanding is not enough. Check and double check your answers in the 10 minutes transfer time at the end of the listening test. To achieve a high band score, you need excellent spelling, correct grammar and punctuation.
  • Listen to the intonation and sentence stress of the speakers, particularly in Section 4. Their intonation and sentence stress will change for linking words, such as Firstly, and Secondly to show they are moving onto new information.
  • In multiple choice questions, the speaker usually uses vocabulary from all of the choices. Don’t just listen for vocabulary from the choices. Often the speaker uses similar vocabulary to an incorrect answer. This is known as a distractor.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the language of study (dissertation, assignment, deadline). The IELTS Listening test uses a range of this vocabulary in Sections 3 and 4.
  • Be prepared to hear the speakers use synonyms and parallel expressions of the words on the test paper. Learners with high band scores recognise paraphrasing easily.
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