IELTS Listening Test: What's the Format, Syllabus, and Question Types?

IELTS Listening Test: Pattern, Format, Question Types, Syllabus & More

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IELTS Listening Test: Pattern, Format, Question Types, Syllabus & More


For any great conversation, one has to be a good listener. Similarly, you must work on your listening capabilities when it comes to English proficiency exams and assessing your language abilities. Well, being a good listener is not easy and quite challenging.

In the IELTS listening test, you must listen to every word and analyse their meanings simultaneously, following the answers to its questions. Do you know why the IELTS listening test is so important? World-class universities and top-notch organisations recognise active listening in English as a skill and are highly significant for attaining an impressive IELTS Listening band score.

Today, in this blog, we will break down the concept of the IELTS listening test in detail, along with its test format, pattern or syllabus, question types, and more. So, let’s start!

Understanding of the IELTS Listening Test

The IELTS Listening Test of General and Academic modules check your English skills to comprehend and follow ideas development, detail understanding of information, and manage varying opinions.

Now that English is not your native language and you don’t have excellent listening capabilities, understanding the British accent in the test is rigorous. Hence, you must comprehend different question types in the IELTS Listening Test as well as the pattern and format before you start the IELTS listening test preparation.


30 minutes

Number of questions


Number of audio recordings


Marks per question


Mode of examination 

Online or on paper


Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine-band scale.

IELTS Listening Test Format

After knowing the basics of the IELTS listening test, you should also dive deeper into its test format. So, you will be listening to four recordings of any native English speaker, following which you need to write your answers to the questions in the series. The recordings comprise the discussions mentioned below. 

  • Recording 1 – A conversation between two people in a daily chat social context.

  • Recording 2 – A monologue set in a familiar social environment, such as a speech on local amenities, etc.

  • Recording 3 – A conversation involving up to four persons in an educational or training setting, such as a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

  • Recording 4 – A monologue about a particular academic subject, such as a university lecture. 


The examiner will look for your abilities to listen and comprehend textual content, which is highly important for your overseas education in English-speaking universities, where you have to comprehend it.

Furthermore, there are 4 recordings in the IELTS listening test, each with 10 questions and 40 questions in total. The questions are structured in such a way that the listener can respond in the same order as heard in the audio. The IELTS listening test lasts 40 minutes, including 10 minutes to transfer the answers to a total of 40 questions.

IELTS Listening Test Question Types

Now that you have learnt the IELTS listening test format, you should also look at each of the 6 essential question types.


Multiple Choice Questions

In multiple-choice, you will be given 3 choices, while sometimes, you must choose 2 or more correct answers. So, in such a case, you may be expected to have a thorough comprehension of specific points or a general understanding of the listening text's critical/significant points.



Matching questions are another type of IELTS Listening test where they assess your ability to grasp the language as well as develop linkages and connections. Match the options given to you with the appropriate connector and score a point. 


Plan, Map, Diagram Labelling

Plan, Map, and Diagram Labelling questions tickle your visual thinking. These types of questions are used to interpret your directional senses and spatial awareness.


Form, Note, Table, Flow Chart, and Summary Completion

You must fill in the gaps in the provided questions. Charts, tables, and other visual aids can present you with processes, names, and occurrences. Make sure you write the exact amount you're requested to write. If you surpass the word limit, you will lose marks. 


Sentence Completion

You have to read a series of given sentences summing up the key information from the entire IELTS Listening Test question text or through any one question of it. You will next be required to fill in the gaps in each phrase using information from the text. These questions address the cause and effect of circumstances, as well as sentence completion problems. However, as previously noted, adhere to the word count requested.


Short-Answer Questions

You must listen to the information and write a brief response using the same knowledge, evaluating your ability to select specific data. Read the questions first, underlining the keywords and focusing on the question words. Take brief notes while listening, using abbreviations and symbols. Answer questions correctly within the word limit. Use the 20-second preview and keep active listening.

Note: According to IELTS, the IELTS listening practice test will not include contracted terms. Hyphenated words are also considered single words.

Test Material for IELTS Listening Practice Test

Now that you have complete knowledge about the types of questions in the IELTS listening test, you should also take a look at a list of recommended materials for IELTS listening test online preparation:

Top Books:

  • 15 Days’ Practice For IELTS Listening (Book + CD)

  • Official IELTS Practice Materials

  • Barron's IELTS Superpack


Websites/ Apps:

Head over to the websites and apps below for comprehensive IELTS listening test online preparation, offering a variety of topics:

  • IELTS Buddy

  • IELTS Mentor

  • IELTS Test Preparation Course (Magoosh)

  • Free IELTS Online Course (British Council)

  • IELTS Prep App

  • English Radio IELTS/TOEFL


However, you can find free online IELTS listening mock test on platforms like IELTS British Council, the official website, and Prepare IELTS (PI) portal.

Tips for the IELTS Listening Test

Now that you know everything about IELTS listening test preparation, you must go through with the practical tips and consistent practice for achieving higher band scores. Below are some valuable strategies to enhance your IELTS listening practice test performance. 

  • Familiarise Yourself with the Format: Understanding the test format and practising with free online IELTS listening mock tests and question types like multiple-choice, matching, labelling diagrams, and completing sentences is essential. 

  • Engage in Listening Activities: You must enhance your overall listening skills on a regular basis through English podcasts, movies, or following news broadcasts. 

  • Active Listening During Pre-listening Time: Not only utilise 30 seconds prior to each recording and its questions but also underline essential words and phrases to focus mainly on relevant information. 

  • Note-Taking Techniques: Create an effective note-taking system where you should use symbols, abbreviations, and short phrases to jot down critical information while listening simultaneously to improve your speed. 

  • Stay Calm and Manage Stress: Stress can harm your performance. Develop relaxation strategies to help you cope with test anxiety. Remember that each segment is distinct, so if you need help with an answer, go on to the next without dwelling on it.

  • Run Your Eyes Through the Questions: Read and skim the questions thoroughly before listening to the audio. Understanding the different types of questions will allow you to take appropriate notes. 


To conclude, mastering IELTS listening test preparation demands a comprehensive understanding of its format, question types, and tips. Regular practice with recommended materials, active listening skills, and knowledge of various accents are essential. Following these guidelines and staying calm can considerably enhance your performance and get higher band scores.

We hope this blog helped you understand the nuances of the IELTS listening test. However, please contact Prepare IELTS exam (PI) expert counsellors if you need further guidance. Our team of education experts is dedicated to assisting you in the best possible way for the IELTS exam. You can also get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at or call us at +91 9773398388.


The IELTS Listening Test lasts for 30 minutes. It consists of four recordings, each with ten questions, making a total of 40 questions.

Active listening is crucial as it assesses your ability to comprehend spoken English, understand ideas, and manage varying opinions. Top universities and organisations recognise this skill, making it essential for achieving an impressive IELTS Listening band score.

Yes, you can take notes during the test. Developing effective note-taking techniques, such as using symbols and abbreviations, is encouraged to jot down key information and improve speed and accuracy.

The IELTS Listening Test is scored out of 40, and the scores are then converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. Each question carries one mark, and the goal is to achieve a high overall score.


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