IELTS Listening – Hidden tips and tricks
This article will elaborate the hidden techniques required to score good in your IELTS listening exam. Below tips will enhance your score by 50% if used correctly.
1. Rule number 1 is not to make any spelling mistakes
Both American and British spellings are accepted in the exam. Please note that you will not score marks for answering questions that are spelt incorrectly and are not words that are not they are. Make sure you capitalise the letter when the word has the same spelling. Moreover, focus on getting the correct answer written down as it is spoken on the recording. Then, double check for the correct spellings later when you transfer your answer to the answer sheet. Watch out for the plural form of nouns. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear the ‘s’ at the end.
Unusual place names such as towns and cities will be spelt for you in the exam. So, if you miss the pronunciation of a town name, just write down the spelling that you hear. Ideally, if you hear both the pronunciation and the spelling, make sure that they match. Remember, letters sound differently depending on the speaker’s accent.
2. Answers are in the same order as the information you hear
In other words, you will hear the answer to question 2 before question 3 and so on. Therefore, you should always be moving ahead in the questions and never going back on previously missed questions. Save that until the end of the recording.
It is also worth noting that in questions where you have to choose an option from a list (e.g. multiple choice or matching items) the possible answers will be mixed up and will not be in chronological order.
3. Missed a question? just move on!
Like in Reading, there is no point in hanging onto a difficult question if it is taking you too much time. Getting 30 out of the 40 questions answered correctly will still get you a band score of seven. If you spend too much time on a single question, you will end up confused and miss easier questions later on.
To challenge band 9 scorers, IELTS have to add at least five very tough questions. The biggest problem however, is that they are usually spread out over the entire exam. This distracts less experienced candidates because they lose track of their position in the recording and find it difficult to pick themselves up. Don’t be afraid to wave a question goodbye and accept that it mine simply be too difficult for you. You don’t need to get all the questions right in the Listening section to get a high band score.
It is always better to be in control with a relaxed mind than experience the domino effect of being behind in the Listening section.
4. Read exam instructions carefully. There is a word limit read it carefully and answer only in the word limit.
Unlike many other tests, IELTS tell you how many words to write in your answer. Make sure you understand what instructions like ‘No more than two words or a number’ means. While you may feel that you need three words for the answer, it will be marked incorrectly. In such cases, drop the preposition (e.g. in, of) or article (e.g. a, an, the).
5. Focus on getting a good start
The first section of the Listening exam can be considered the easiest. Nevertheless, candidates of all abilities struggle with it because it is the very first section they hear. Feeling anxious before the exam is normal, however, don’t let it take over be ready to perform from the start. Arrive early to the exam, well rested and with lots of exam practice under your belt, and you will be in a better position to start well.
It is also worth noting that in questions where you have to choose an option from a list (e.g. multiple choice or matching items) the potential answers will be mixed up and will not be in chronological order.
6. Use your breaks productively
In the listening test, there are breaks between the four sections of the test, and in the middle of sections 1, 2 and 3. You will hear instructions telling you to either read the next set of questions or check your answers associated with the previous recording.
It’s important to use both of these times to read the questions. Even if they ask you to check your answers, it will be far more valuable to you if you focus on the upcoming questions. There is nothing worse than having to read questions during a recording. Use this time to stay in control and read ahead.
Make sure you understand them, underline key words, and think about what kind of answer is needed (e.g. number, name, noun, verb, singular, plural).
7. Practice past Listening tests from start to finish
The same higher level vocabulary rarely comes up twice in the IELTS exam, but that is not why we practice Listening tests. One of the biggest challenges in the Listening exam is having to multitask. You must read the questions, listen to answers and write down the answers in a short amount of time.
Even native English speakers struggle to write and listen at the same time. Make sure you know how to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. At the beginning of your preparation, practice listening at a pace that suits them which is fine when starting off then, as the test date comes closer, practice under the same exam conditions as the actual IELTS test. By then you would have developed more confidence and exam skills.
8. Be confident on the day of your exam
On exam day, you must not let everything else distract you. You need to remain calm and collective at all times; not getting overly frustrated and panicky if you miss an answer or two. Answers can come very quickly or there can be significant gaps between them.
Like with all sections of the IELTS exam, you need to be exposing yourself to as much English as possible in a variety of accents and not just past IELTS recordings.
9. Do not panic from the speed and accent
Get used to the British accent as well as other main accents to get through the listening test. Do not panic if you think the topic is too difficult or the speaker is too fast; relax and tune in. Read, write and listen at the same time. Focus precisely on what you are asked to do in completion type questions.
10. Focus on the correct answer
If the question asks you to complete the note ‘in the…’ and the correct answer is ‘morning’, note that ‘in the morning’ would be incorrect; the correct answer is ‘morning’.
11. Be aware of distractions
Just like a natural conversation, sometimes there is confusing information or misunderstanding amongst the speakers, which is where lie the distractors. It could be as simple as — what is the speaker’s name to which the conversation could go like this– “Hi, my name is Dan”, “Hello, Stan”, “No sorry, this is Dan”. Here obviously the correct answer is Dan but if you weren’t patient in hearing the conversation till the end, you could put down Stan as the wrong answer. Which brings us to putting the right answer at the end.
12. Listen, don’t assume
Before you start the test, be aware that you are expected to listen not derive or assume meaning. Your role is to put down what you hear, so even if you do not understand certain words or the meaning of certain words, the correct answer is the one you hear. In the complicated sections, for example a lecture, you are expected to have a general idea of the topic. It could be contrary to your information on the subject but don’t assume the speaker is wrong and put down the answer you believe is correct. The speaker is always right here.
13. Pay special attention to linking words and repeated information
Pay attention to linking words such as firstly, next, moreover, etc. They indicate different relationships between words such as addition and contrast. Usually, important information comes after them, so you need to listen carefully. The repeated words are sometimes the key words in the recording. Pay attention these words because they could be the right answer.
14. Most importantly, enlarge your vocabulary
No matter which skill is assessed, you need enough vocabulary to succeed in the test. Expanding your vocabulary helps you to better understand information and give correct answers. Some students hate learning new words because it is boring to memorize word lists. Actually, there is some fun in learning new words.