IELTS Listening is a timed test and can be one of the most daunting parts of the exam to prepare for because it tests your ability to listen to natural English and then answer questions on what you heard. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think! To help you ace this part of the test, here are ten simple tips to ensure you perform well on the IELTS Listening Test.
10 Tips to Prepare for the IELTS Listening Test
These ten simple tips will help you to improve your score on the IELTS Listening test:
You don’t have to listen to every talk or audio clip in your IELTS book before test day, but you should be familiar with what it will sound like. Record your voice and play it back while reading a book or magazine out loud.
This will help you feel more comfortable with how your voice sounds when recorded and ready yourself for speaking out loud under pressure. You can even make an MP3 of yourself reading aloud so that you can easily listen in your car on road trips!
Play a game: Play games like Pictionary or charades with friends and family, especially if you haven’t had much experience describing things that aren’t right in front of you.
2. Focus on key vocabulary
To successfully prepare for and pass an exam, it’s always good to focus on essential vocabulary. It’s impossible, however, to know what exact words you’ll need without first taking a close look at your study materials.
If you happen to come across an unfamiliar word, don’t be afraid—the internet is here! Many online dictionaries are simple enough that they can help you find a definition or example sentences in no time.
3. Identify which sections you need to focus on
If you’re worried about getting your listening score up, there are some essential things you should focus on. Although you’ll need to study all of these areas, it’s worth devoting most of your time to two main areas: one being attitude and approach and two being strategies for each type of question.
Working on these aspects will improve your ability in all four parts of the test. You should also make sure that you listen actively; many students get too relaxed during exams and end up just sitting back rather than engaging with questions.
The examiners know what they want from candidates, so remember their role is not to test how much information a student knows but how well they can use it.
4. Get familiar with background noises
The background noises in every test center differ, but it’s a good idea to get a feel for what it will be like before your test. Find a cafe or bar with a lot of ambient noise and take a seat yourself.
Try listening to conversations around you and see if you can understand them. Practicing in different locations allows you to get used to dealing with other sounds, so you’re less likely to lose focus during your exam.
5. Don’t panic
Everyone feels nervous before a test, especially one you might not do well on. What’s important is how you react. Taking deep breaths will help you relax and focus on listening to what’s being said.
The first time around, try not to spend too much time figuring out why something was said or looking up words you don’t know in your dictionary; take notes on what is being discussed and move forward.
6. Listen and watch at the same time
Use a headset or turn up your TV so you can listen and watch at the same time. If you’re listening and watching at different times, your brain will try to fill in gaps in meaning. You want all of your attention focused on listening when taking an exam like TOEFL or IELTS, especially if it’s an academic type of test.
If you have some extra time during TOEFL/IELTS practice tests, use it to do other things like brush your teeth or wash dishes. This is also a good idea if distractions are happening around you (like children). When taking notes, keep them short. The most important point is probably worth 3-4 words, but no more than that!
7. Understand question types in exams
When you take a test in your native language, it’s easy to identify what type of question you’re answering. You know if it’s an opinion, descriptive question, or even a personal essay.
But when taking an English exam (like the IELTS), questions can be more challenging to understand because their purpose is more subtle. In most languages (including English), questions are either yes/no statements or statements with multiple possible answers.
There are other forms of English language question types—and they might not be what you expect! For example, a statement can be worded as you must do something, but that doesn’t mean it has one correct answer.
8. Listen and repeat
No matter how good your spoken English is, there’s no replacement for hearing native speakers in their natural setting. If you’ve got a trip coming up, use it as an opportunity to practice real-world Listening.
Don’t be afraid to ask people questions and request rephrasing if you don’t understand what they’re saying. The more conversational language you hear, especially in unfamiliar settings, the more comfortable you’ll feel with spontaneous Listening during test day.
You can improve your score on IELTS by listening and repeating. Focus on repeating in your head what you hear rather than trying to figure out precisely what you’re hearing. If you want something a little more challenging, try adding a task (solving math problems or trying to guess what happens next in a story), but make sure it’s fun!
9. Record your mistakes, then repeat them out loud slowly
One of your biggest mistakes in Listening may have been focusing on what you thought was correct instead of recognizing incorrect information. When you listen, make sure that you record all your mistakes, then replay them aloud slowly with a partner.
If possible, write down every word and phrase that you don’t understand so that you can refer back to it later. That way, if something comes up again on another listening test, you’ll be able to recognize it!
10. When you get a low score, learn from it!
It’s easy to take a low score on an exam as a sign that you’re not smart enough, but that mentality is just going to prevent you from being successful. When you get a low score, think about what caused it. Where did you fall short? Was it something small, or was there some more prominent issue?
And don’t just learn from your mistake; also put together a better plan to prepare for your next exam. Next time, think through things you can do differently and use those insights on future tests. In other words, don’t just let that test take up space in your brain; think about it actively and make sure it doesn’t happen again!
Preparing for any standardized test can be nerve-wracking. But by following these simple tips, you can easily prepare yourself and succeed on your IELTS listening test. Good luck!