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There are 6 basic IELTS listening tips that you’ll learn in every overpriced course around the world.

You can save some money by reading this post – I’ll tell you what they are right now!

You can read more here about labelling maps and here about multiple choice questions.

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Tip #1: Predict the type of answer.

Look at the question below:

Some possible predictions:

1. Noun or adjective + noun

2. Animal/Transport

3. Noun/Place

4. Noun or adjective + noun


Don’t write your predictions down! Just read the question and make a quick prediction.



Tip #2: Predict the answer itself.

Here’s the same question with some predictions:


Some possible predictions:

1. Flowers, houses, scenery, mountains, rivers

2. Tractor, pony, horse

3. Barn, garden, petting zoo, fields

4. Lunch, a tour, a petting zoo, refreshments, ____ class


Don’t write your predictions down! Only some answers are possible to predict and it’s unlikely you will make the right prediction – but you can get close…



 Tip #3: Underline the keywords.

This tip is mainly just to jog your memory if you hear the keywords mentioned.



Tip #4: Watch out for paraphrases!

Be careful! Most keywords and questions will be paraphrased. This means there will be synonyms, different grammar and different ways of saying the same thing.

These become more common and more difficult in sections 2, 3, and 4.

Here are some possible paraphrases for the keywords:


Take photos: take pictures, get a picture of, use their cameras, snap some shots

Surround: around, next to, you can see from the lake, beside,

Children: kids

Help feed: give food to, help the farmers to feed, take part in feeding

Ride: trek, tour the farm, go around the farm on a

Walk: stroll, get some air

Lake: (no synonyms for this one!)

Available: if you’d like, can, there is the option to

Extra cost: isn’t included in the original price, costs extra, for a bit extra, you’ll have to pay extra for



Tip # 5: Watch out for distractors!

The listening exam will try to trick you into choosing or writing the wrong answer.

For example you will hear:

“After you’re done riding the elephant you might want to take a little walk. The barn is a good place to walk around. Closer to the lake you’ll find the gardens. But the barn is way better.”

The answer is: gardens

Distractors can come before or after the correct answer (or both!).

So the tip is to be careful when you think you hear the answer – it might be a distractor, so keep listening to the end of that idea.



Tip #6: Look ahead at the end of each section.

At the end of each section the lovely voice on the tape will say ‘This is the end of section 1/2/3. You now have half a minute to check your answers.’

Ignore her the same way you ignore your parents advice.

Look ahead to the next section and begin reading the questions. This way you will get an extra 30 seconds.

Don’t worry about checking your answers – you can check at the end when you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers.



Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments

Take a look at the question below. Can you predict any of the answers?



Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

Do you have a good tip for improving your listening?

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