Is the IELTS Listening section the Achilles heel for you? Do you sweat figuring out the language nuances and idiomatic expressions used by the native speakers of English? The comforting news is that there are a few strategies that, if employed smartly, can help one not only to understand the speaker’s articulation but also to answer the questions accurately.
The Listening section, which remains similar for both the Academic Module as well as the General Training Module, gives the test takers four different recordings accompanied by questions that need to be answered at the same time while listening. The recordings are played only once, so answers need to be jotted down while listening to the audio clips. A 10 minute transfer time is provided at the end of the section to enable test takers to transfer answers to the answer sheet.
Here are some tips that would help you steer clear of the commonly made errors in the IELTS listening section and help you pave your way towards a Band 8.0:
- Know your test: Get familiarized with the structure of the section and the question types in order to remove the novelty that would otherwise seem intimidating. There are 4 recordings with 10 questions associated with each recording and each question carries a single raw point. There is no penalty for a wrong answer in this particular exam. The recordings are culled from different walks of life but centered on university life, library, eating places, academic lectures and so on.
The clips are usually organized as:
- Recording 1 – Informal Conversation – A conversation (usually between 2 people) that can be seen in informal situation. For example, a discussion between two tourists or friends to decide which places to visit or what to eat appears in this part.
- Recording 2 – Informal Monologue – A speech that can be found in any informal situation. For example, a guided tour in a museum/historical place/theme park or a person describing the facilities is provided as part of this recording.
- Recording 3 – Academic Conversation – A conversation (usually between 2 people) present in a University setting. These usually can include exchanges between a professor and a student who may discuss examinations, assignments, classes, etc
- Recording 4 – Academic Lecture – A lecture by a professor in a classroom on a range of academic subjects.
2. Follow Instructions and Identify Parallel meaning: The most important aspect of any exam is the set of instructions, even more so in the IELTS exam as these determine the correctness of an answer. A valid connection has to be made between what the speaker says and what the question asks. Answer only with the number of words required by the question. A 30 second time frame is available as a section begins and ends, which could be effectively used to predict and grab hold of the correct answers as you hear it.
3. The test taker should keep in mind to recheck the spellings while answering, as well as after transferring the answers to the answer sheet since a wrong spelling can take away points even if the idea of the answer is correct. Shortened or abbreviated versions for months and numbers e.g.. DEC for December are a big ‘NO’. Minor errors such as variations in the singularity or the plurality of an answer choice may cost you dearly, hence it’s extremely important to listen and write down carefully as well as cross verify the final answers.
4. Evidence based listening: IELTS is designed to assess the language capabilities of the candidate. Hence, it is not essential that the test taker has a foreknowledge of the content. This is especially true in the fourth recording which is entirely academic in nature. But, the questions always test the understanding of how English language is used while presenting such lectures. Some of the questions may require content specific answers, which means that the answers were articulated by the speaker, and you just need to recall and fill in the same in the blanks. Outside knowledge is never tested in any module of the IELTS test.
5. Intonation and Sentence Stress: It is helpful to pay attention to the stress and intonation patterns in the listening section since this assists in the understanding of the speech patterns leading up to a better processing of the information put across by public speakers and lecturers in the audio. This is specifically true in the fourth recording wherein the stress over the linking words hints at the introduction of new content.
These are only some of the tips to improve your IELTS score. Wait for our next blog to know more on the IELTS test taking techniques to secure band 8.0