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Test format – Listening

30 minutes

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  1. Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  2. Recording 2 - a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
  3. Recording 3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  4. Recording 4 - a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture

Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.

Paper Format

From 4 January 2020, some small changes were introduced to the instructions and layout of the paper-based Listening test:

  1. The word ‘Sections’ was changed to ‘Parts’ – The paper-based test will now be divided into Part 1, 2, 3, 4.
  2. The Part 1 example was removed.
  3. We have also removed the page number references.

There are four parts with ten questions each. The questions are designed so that the answers appear in the order they are heard in the audio.

The first two parts deal with situations set in everyday social contexts. In Part 1, there is a conversation between two speakers (for example, a conversation about travel arrangements), and in Part 2, there is a monologue in (for example, a speech about local facilities). The final two parts deal with situations set in educational and training contexts. In Part 3, there is a conversation between two main speakers (for example, two university students in discussion, perhaps guided by a tutor), and in Part 4, there is a monologue on an academic subject.

The recordings are heard only once. They include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand, American and Canadian.

Timing

Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes transfer time)

No. of questions

40

Task types

A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion.

Answering

Test takers write their answers on the question paper as they listen and at the end of the test are given 10 minutes to transfer their answers to an answer sheet. Care should be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised

Marks

Each question is worth 1 mark.

IELTS Listening – how it's marked

The Listening test is marked by certificated markers, who are regularly monitored to ensure their reliability. All answer sheets, after being marked, are further analysed by Cambridge Assessment English.

Band score conversion

A Band Score conversion table is produced for each version of the Listening test which translates scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.

One mark is awarded for each correct answer in the 40-item test. Care should be taken when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.

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