IELTS Listening Test Pattern



IELTS listening section tests your ability to understand spoken English. Listening is the first part of the exam.

  • It lasts for 30 minutes.
  • The total number of questions is 40.
  • There are 4 distinct sections.
  • Each section contains around 10 questions.
  • Each section is divided into two or three sub-sections.
  • Usually the Listening section gets more difficult as you move from Sections 1 to 4.

The range of questions include the following:

  • multiple choice questions
  • short answer questions
  • sentence completion
  • summary / notes / flow chart / diagram / chart completion
  • labeling a diagram which has numbered parts
  • matching

Four Listening Sections

Section 1

  • Has two parts.
  • This is a conversation between two or three people.
  • The situation can be a social or an academic setting.

Section 2

This is a monologue of a social or academic nature such as

  • an outing,
  • a tour guide giving directions or instructions

Section 3

  • This is usually a conversation between two or four people
  • It is usually an academic setting, for instance it could be a dialogue between two students regarding
  • a tutorial,
  • an assignment
  • or an oral presentation.

Section 4

  • It is an academic setting.
  • This is a monologue in the form of a lecture or speech.
  • A few questions may be asked during the lecture.

Most of the IELTS listening is about social and educational situations in academic context.

The earlier sections test your ‘survival English’ in situations that you are likely to encounter when you first arrive in an English speaking country 

  • giving and taking directions,
  • finding one’s way around,
  • making arrangements and so on.

The later sections have got to do with academics and training. They relate to situations such as

  • students’ orientation programs,
  • introduction to new courses,
  • introduction to institutions,
  • assignments,
  • tutorials,
  • plans for excursions,
  • holidays or outings.

The discussions might be between

  • two students,
  • a professor and a student
  • an administrator and a student

As IELTS is an international exam,

  • it is natural that there should be different accents in the listening scripts
  • We must get used to different accents if we wish to go to a foreign country.


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