Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today we present a case study of one 3 Keys IELTS student who is having big problems on the Listening exam.

We’ll share specific questions that gave him trouble.

These come from Cambridge books, so you might recognize them!

We’ll tell you how you can avoid the tricks and traps on every IELTS Listening exam.

You’ll also receive resources to help you prepare so you can get the score you need.

#1: Matching key words in every answer choice

This is a classic test writer trick!

Incorrect answers will almost always have words and phrases from the audio.

You cannot select an answer just because words match!

You must listen closely when you hear the key words so that you understand the meaning.

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#2: Distractors

Examiners want you to get the answer wrong!

They are intentionally putting tricks and traps into the questions.

This is how test writers check for comprehension.

On this question, the audio has a parallel for the correct answer.

However, immediately afterward are words directly from other answer choices.

Don’t be fooled!

Pay close attention when you hear keywords and listen for paraphrases.

Practice skills to develop

We address these tricks and traps in 3 Keys IELTS.

  • Do not write down the first answer you hear.
  • Keep listening!
  • Listen for negative words: no, not, but, however, wait

You need strategies to practice!

Work backwards!

  • write the answers first
  • go back and listen
  • read the transcript
  • highlight the tricks
  • highlight distractors and parallels

This will get you in the mind of the test writer.

You’ll start to recognize these traps more easily.

Do a lot of test practice!

It’s not enough to complete one or two practice tests before your exam.

You need to practice until the strategies and skills are easy to use.

Recognizing these tricks will become second nature.


IELTS is full of tricks and traps.

You need to know what to expect and get inside the mind of the test writer.

If you are struggling with any part of the exam, you need strategies!

Everything you need to get a 7 or higher on IELTS is in our 3 Keys IELTS system.

We have helped thousands of students get past IELTS and we can help you too!

Sign up today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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