Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Are you getting a 5.5 on IELTS Listening? Or, perhaps, you just can’t seem to raise your Listening score to the band score you need?

We got an interesting email from a listener about this very problem.

The strategy this student is using simply has not, is not, and will not work.

I want to tell you why I’m not making above 5.5 in IELTS Listening. I took the test more than 3 times. My current listening strategy is when the recording starts, I go and look for questions 1 to 10 in the first 30 second pause. Next I pay more attention to questions 5-10 in the second pause of 30 seconds. When I get to the last 30 seconds to check my answers, I go to the next section. The score is not improving.

Many students are following this same strategy, to a similar lack of success.

The first thing is, you can’t game the system on IELTS! Listen to what the nice British person says on the audio, and just do what they say.

The initial problem here is that the student is trying to look at all the questions in the first pause. Looking at so many questions at once does not allow you to underline key words and think about possible answers.

If the person on the recording asks you to only look at questions 1 to 5, then only look at those!

While you’re looking, you must be an active test taker, underlining key words and predicting answers.

If you don’t do this, it is likely that you will lose track while you’re listening and miss answers.


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While you’re listening, you need to physically track and point to the key words you hear to help you focus.

Also, in that last pause when asked to check your answers, CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Don’t try and skip ahead. Use this time to make an educated guess if you missed an answer. Also, check your spelling!

You should approach your practice logically. Learn a system of strategies and practice them in exercises similar to IELTS.

Then, apply them to practice tests, once you are confident in the system.

You can also gain confidence in listening by exploring resources made for native speakers, such as podcasts, TV programs and movies.

What do you think of today’s advice?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!


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