Question Types – Listening

What constitutes IELTS Listening Test ?

In IELTS Listening Test, a pre-recorded tape is played and candidates are provided with a headphone to listen discussions / conversations / speeches by various speakers. IELTS Listening Test has four sections, with ten questions in each section. The questions given in the question paper will be in the same sequence as the information provided in the sound recording. Hence, the answer to the first question will be before the answer to the second question, and so on.

Test Parts
There are following 4 sections in a IELTS Listening Test:

IELTS Listening TestSection 1 entails a discussion in the form of a conversation among two people related to everyday social context (For Example, a conversation involving enquiry about booking of a concert).

Section 2 is a monologue or a speech given by a person, mostly to articulate his or her intellectual thoughts and sometimes to directly address other person or audience. The context of this monologue is related to daily life social context. (For Example, a speech about harmful effects of green house gases).

Section 3 is a discussion among two to four people laid down in an educational or training perspective (For Example, a university lecturer and a student having a conversation on a research project or a group of students sharing their experience on assignments they completed during winter break).

Section 4 is again a monologue or speech on an academic topic (For Example, a lecture on ancient artefacts).

Once Candidate finishes answering all questions, he has to transfer all his answers from question paper to the answer sheet. Each of the above sections can be heard only once. To give objectivity to the task, a variety of voices and accents are used in all the sections, for example, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and American.

Timing

IELTS Listening Test, the time allotted is 30 minutes to answer the questions and additional 10 minutes to transfer the answers from question paper to the answer sheet. Hence the total time provided for completion of Listening test is 40 minutes.

Questions

The total number of questions to be answered is 40 and all of them are compulsory to be answered. A range of question forms are used which includes following:

  1. Multiple choice questions
  2. Labeling of a diagram or a geographical map
  3. Fill in the blanks – Form/note/table/flow chart/summary completion
  4. Fill in the blanks – Sentence completion
  5. Short answer questions
  6. Matching Information

1. Question Type 1 – Multiple Choice Questions

This is a question with three options of potential answers or the first half of a sentence with three probable sentence endings. Candidate has to choose one right answer out of the three options – A, B or C, and then write the right letter in the space provided in Question Paper.

Sometimes IELTS Listening Testthe question may include a longer list of probable choices and candidate has to choose more than one answer. Candidate need to read and understand the question carefully to see how many options of answers he has to choose.

Skills tested:

This kind of question assesses various listening skills, such as, detailed understanding of specific points, ability to identify correct statement / reason out of multiple options or generic view point of the main points of the recording.

2 Question Type 2 – Labeling of a diagram or a geographical map
In this sort of question, a candidate has to label any one of the following:

  1. A drawing (for example, a piece of tools or a machine part)
  2. A collection of images
  3. A layout or building plan (for example, a museum or a zoo)
  4. A map of a locality (for example, a town division or s district block)

The candidate has to:

  1. Select words from the sound recording which matches and suits the gaps given in the question paper. A candidate should take care not to modify the words used in the recording.
  2. A candidate should read the instructions very carefully, as crossing the word limit as prescribed, would lead to losing of marks. For example, ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’ recommends using a maximum of Three words or Three words and a number or just a number
  3. Candidate should avoid using contracted words such as ‘they’re’ since they will not be considered for evaluation. Hyphenated words like ‘check-in’, count as a single word

Skills tested:

This sort of question assesses a candidate’s ability to comprehend, for example, an explanation of a place, and how this explanation relates to the visual. It may also examine candidate’s ability to understand a description for placement of certain objects or ability to follow directions (for example North-west, South-east, left side of a road).

3. Question Type 3 – Fill in the blanks – Form/note/table/flow chart/summary completion

In this kind of question, the candidate has to fill in the blanks in a summary of the recording. The summary will focus on the main information in the recording and may be:

  1. A form: generally used to represent facts, such as particulars of a person or a place
  2. A note: often used to sum up details and display various points that relate with one another
  3. A table: used to tabulate data that can be easily separated into different categories, e.g. model/colour/price
  4. A flow chart: regularly used to recapitulate the various stages during a course of action, with the course of the process depicted by means of arrows

The candidate has to:

  1. Select words from the sound recording which matches and suits the gaps given in the question paper. A candidate should take care not to modify the words used in the recording
  2. A candidate should read the instructions very carefully, as crossing the word limit as prescribed, would lead to losing of marks. For example, ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’ recommends using a maximum of Three words or Three words and a number or just a number
  3. Candidate should avoid using contracted words such as ‘they’re’ since they will not be considered for evaluation. Hyphenated words like ‘check-in’, count as a single word

Skills tested:

This kind of question examines the ability of person to focus and note down the key points while hearing the description of an object.

4 Question Type 4 – Fill in the blanks – Sentence completion

In such questions, candidate has to read and complete the sentences that sum up the key information from either all of the listening text or from one part of it. Candidate has to fill in a blank in each sentence using information from the sound recording. Candidate should write the words that fit into the blank on the answer sheet.

The candidate has to:

  1. Select words from the sound recording which matches and suits the gaps given in the question paper. A candidate should take care not to modify the words used in the recording
  2. A candidate should read the instructions very carefully, as crossing the word limit as prescribed, would lead to losing of marks. For example, ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’ recommends using a maximum of Three words or Three words and a number or just a number
  3. Candidate should avoid using contracted words such as ‘they’re’ since they will not be considered for evaluation. Hyphenated words like ‘check-in’, count as a single word

Skills tested:

This kind of question assesses a candidate’s capability to recognize the key information in a sound recording. Candidate should be able to comprehend and understand association between various events, like cause and effect in a given procedure.

5. Question Type 5 – Short answer questions

In this type of question, a candidate has to read the question and write short answer (usually 2-3 words long) in response. Sometimes candidate is given a question which asks him to write two or three different answers. Candidate has to answer using information from the sound recording only. Candidate should write the words that fit into the blank on the answer sheet.

The candidate has to:

  1. Select words from the sound recording which matches and suits the gaps given in the question paper. A candidate should take care not to modify the words used in the recording
  2. A candidate should read the instructions very carefully, as crossing the word limit as prescribed, would lead to losing of marks. For example, ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’ recommends using a maximum of Three words or Three words and a number or just a number
  3. Candidate should avoid using contracted words such as ‘they’re’ since they will not be considered for evaluation. Hyphenated words like ‘check-in’, count as a single word

IELTS Listening Test Skills tested:

This kind of question assesses a candidate’s capability to listen for facts, such as places, prices or times, heard in the audio / sound recording.

6. Question Type 6 – Matching Information

In this kind of question, a candidate has to match a list of objects from the sound recording to a list of choices in the question paper, and then write the right letter on the answer sheet.

IELTS Listening Test Skills tested:
This sort of question assesses a candidate’s ability to:

  1. Listen and understand detailed information. For example, whether a candidate can comprehend information about the type of show being played in a local theatre, in a daily conversation
  2. Hear and understand a conversation between two or more people. For example, a project assignment being discussed by a group of five students
  3. Identify how various facts and data in the recording are connected to each other

NOTE: It is VERY IMPORTANT for candidates to transfer the answers, that they wrote on the Question Paper at the time of sound recording being played, to the answer sheet. ONLY the answers written on the answer sheet will be evaluated.

Marking

The listening test carries a total of 40 marks for 40 questions, which implies that each correct answer gets 1 mark. The marks out of 40 are converted as per the IELTS Listening Test scale to a 9 band score. Scores are awarded in whole as well as half bands (For example, 7 & 7.5). There is no negative marking for the wrong answers; hence the candidates can attempt all the questions.