Top 6 Secrets For Improving Your IELTS Listening Score

During my 10 years of IELTS Dubai coaching and training, I have come across many students and professionals who failed to get a good band score just because they didn’t do well in their listening test. Achieving the IELTS result you want is easier if you take the right approach in the IELTS test preparation. If you’re preparing for the IELTS test and need help with improving your listening skills, here I have come up with the top six secrets to improving your listening score. 

Before you move onto reading the secret tips, I would like to help you with some useful information regarding the IELTS Listening test.  This will give you an understanding of the listening test pattern. There are four sections in the listening test module. These sections are:

  • Section 1 is two speakers having an everyday conversation. They might be making plans for the weekend or something similar.
  • Section 2 is a monologue (one person talking) about an everyday situation. It may be a speech or a talk about making plans for something.
  • Section 3 is an academic conversation between 2 or 4 people.
  • Section 4 is a monologue on an academic topic.

The recordings and questions get more difficult as the test progresses. The recordings include a range of accents, probably British and Australian, so try to get familiar with these.

Now let’s dive deeper into the 6 secrets for your test preparation which will make a huge difference in your IELTS Listening score.

1. Get used to a range of accents

You’ve probably had friends and teachers recommend listen to English radio to help you prepare for the IELTS test. That’s a great piece of advice! To really maximize the benefit of your IELTS training, you should listen to as many different accents as you can. Try listening to British American comedian and Australian radio. IELTS is an international English test and you’ll hear all of these accents in the test. Check out Australian Broadcasting Corporation PBS and BBC.

2. Improve general listening skills

The goal of the IELTS Listening module is to test your listening skills. As we have discussed about getting familiarised with different English accents in the first point, don’t use practise tests to improve your score. Practising may help you to become familiar with the test but won’t give much improvement in your listening abilities. Here, the most effective method is to do various listening exercises. Listen to general listening materials like radio reports, TV-shows, documental programs, podcasts, etc. Once you have developed an understanding on how an English person speaks, start doing practice tests for the IELTS Listening.

3. Note down important points while listening

It is hard to capture everything while you listen to the audio. So, what should you do? Focus on what the speaker is saying and not how they say it.

Note down key points and abbreviate. You only need to write down important things to help your memory when you elaborate on the points. Learn to distinguish between essential and non-essential information. Group them accordingly.

For example: If two people are talking about making plans for a dinner date, the important information is the date/time they finally agree upon. Other dates/times they considered become irrelevant.

4. Practice Listening

If you have an audio clip for practising, listen to it first and repeat again. Based on what you understood the first time, check out if you need more listening to pick out. Continue to listen to the clip several times through to see if you can comprehend a little bit more each time. Move on to read the text-only when you’re not comprehending anything more from the audio. Your goal should be to understand as much as possible from the audio.

5. Polish Vocabulary on the Topic

Section 3 of the listening test mostly always about an academic conversation between 2 or 4 people. For example, students and a course trainer talking about an assignment. Try to learn all the possible vocabulary about studying at a university. This way you will understand this section better.

6. Read Questions Before Listening

You have the opportunity to read the questions before listening to the recording. Take advantage of this. The questions can help you determine what type of answer you’re looking for. Prepare to hear a potential answer that is not the actual answer. This is common when two people are making plans. They first agree on meeting at a certain time, but then one remembers that they cannot so they decide on a new time.

I am adding an additional seventh secret which you can consider as a bonus point to your listening test preparation.

Read the instructions carefully

It’s so simple when we say it. But when you’re in an actual tester situation it can be easy to overlook. Try reading the question through twice to make sure you don’t miss out any important points. Here’s an example, if the question says write no more than three words and you write four words you would not get points for giving more than what is asked. In fact, your answers will be marked as incorrect because you didn’t follow the instruction. Take a little extra time to read carefully and you can avoid wasting valuable marks.

Now, Let’s Sum Up

The more you practice the better you improve your listening by finding ways to listen to English every day. The more you listen the faster your understanding will improve and the better you’ll be at picking out answers in your test.

Remember, be positive and keep practising until you will see an improvement.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top tip for improving your listening score?

Noufal MK

I am a professional IELTS Trainer with Edoxi Training Institute – a world-class Educational Training Center providing the best IELTS Coaching in Dubai.

I have been working as an IELTS, PTE Trainer for the last couple of years. Last year, I trained 400 students. It has helped me in accomplishing the best score in each area of the IELTS tests. I have a strong training background in effective classroom coaching which enables me to bring out the best in each student.

Before joining the Edoxi Training institute as an IELTS Trainer, I worked with Markaz Ihram English club, Koyilandy as the Head of Academics and as a Guest Lecturer with Markaz Law College, Kozhikode.


Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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