IELTS Listening

This is the first section of the IELTS test. Academic and general training candidates must take the same listening test. It consists of four different parts and a total of 40 questions. Part 1 and part 2 are set in a social context. Part 3 and 4 are set in the academic context. The audio features speakers from a variety of English-speaking countries like British, Australia, New Zealand and North American. It is played ONLY ONCE. The listening section takes 30 minutes. An additional 10 minutes is given to transfer responses to the answer sheet. (The extra time is only for Paper-based tests, not for Computer-delivered.)

The candidate’s ability to understand the main ideas and detailed information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, and the purpose of a word is usually tested. The questions carry 1 mark each and are converted to band scores. The questions are usually paraphrased (different words with similar meanings). Also, while transferring the answer, candidates need to be careful as they will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.


IELTS Listening Test: Information

IELTS Listening test is made to assess the listening abilities of a candidate. This module is the same for Academic as well as General IELTS.

Time 40 minutes
Questions 40
Sections 4

The Listening module takes 40 minutes: 30 min for testing and 10 min for transferring the answers to the answer sheet. There are 40 questions in the Listening module having 10 questions in each section. Sections get increasingly difficult.


Different Sections on the IELTS Listening

Part Audio Description
1 There is a conversation between two speakers in Part 1 (for example, finding information about travel, a club or a hostel).
2 A monologue on a general topic with a transactional purpose. (E.g. giving information about events in the community, travel guide giving instructions at a tourist place).
3 A conversation between two main speakers (for example, two students discussing a project, a student discussing a research paper with a tutor).
4 A monologue in an academic context (e.g. a lecture).


IELTS Listening Scoring Pattern

The IELTS Listening section contains 40 questions and each correct question is valued at 1 mark (so the maximum a test taker can score here is 40).

Band scores, ranging from band 1 to band 9, are awarded based on the raw scores.


Top 5 Tips for IELTS Listening Test

  • Improve the general listening skills
  • Polish the vocabulary related to the topic
  • Don’t write answers too quickly
  • Transfer answers accurately
  • Be focused and don’t lose attention


How are Scores Calculated?

The scores are all between 0 and 9. The scores are calculated by averaging the results of the four sections mentioned above. The scores can range from .5 to 6.5 or 7.5. When a decimal number other than 5 or 0 is used, the score is rounded up or down to the nearest 0.5. For example, 6.1 is rounded down to 6 and 7.75 is rounded up to 8.

Each score has a unique description and is linked to a skill level. For example, a ‘9’ indicates an expert user, while a ‘0’ indicates no attempt. Scores ranging from 9 to 6 indicate that the individual understands the fundamentals of the language, whereas 5 to 0 indicate that the individual has little or no knowledge of the language.


The IELTS 9-Band Scale

Each band corresponds to a level of English competence. All parts of the test and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole and half bands, e.g. 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0.

The IELTS Cut Off generally ranges from 7 to 8 from 9-band Scale.


Band Definition

Band 9 Expert User Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
Band 8 Very Good User Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well
Band 7 Good User Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
Band 6 Competent User Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 Modest User Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
Band 4 Limited User Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely Limited User Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
Band 2 Intermittent User No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English
Band 1 Non-User Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test No accessible information provided.


IELTS Listening test : Focus on 3 Components

The IELTS listening tips and tricks academic includes 3 main rules of active listening which should be focused on:

  • Comprehend
  • Retain
  • Respond


IELTS Listening Test: Score in Top Universities

IELTS listening scores for universities range from 6.5 to almost 8.5. IELTS listening band score list of top universities help candidates understand the range of score they need to aim for.

Top Universities IELTS Listening Score
Harvard University 7.5
MIT 7.0
California Institute of Technology 7 (overall)
Princeton University 7 (overall)
Yale University 7 (overall)
University of Chicago 6
University of Pennsylvania 6.5 minimum
John Hopkins University 7 and above
University of Toronto 6
University of British Columbia 6
McGill University 6.5 (overall
Oxford University 7
University of Edinburgh 7
University College, London 6.5
University of Cambridge 7
Imperial College, London 6.5
King’s College, London 6.5

Our Top IELTS Achievers

  • 8.5
  • Tarun Bhasker
  • Bengaluru | INR192006E0001
  • 8.5
  • Shrishti Banerjee
  • New Delhi | STX192009E0001
  • 8.5
  • Esha Hooda
  • Chandigarh | CHD192005E0060
  • 8
  • Jeffrey Nathaniel
  • Coimbatore | CMB181906E0091


About Study Abroad


How many sections are there in the IELTS Listening Test?

There are four sections in the IELTS listening test.

How long is the IELTS Listening Test?

It is 30 minutes long. For paper-based test-takers additional 10 minutes is provided to transfer the answers to the answer sheet. Computer test-takers will not have extra time.

How can I study for IELTS listening?

Learn the structure of the section, question types and practice using authentic resources.

How can I practice IELTS Listening?

Practice listening to different types of listening audios and focus on main points.

How can I improve my listening skills in IELTS?

Follow the instructions carefully and practice listening to accents from a variety of English-speaking countries.

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