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Numbers in the Listening Test: Date, Time, Telephone, Credit card…

In all part of the IELTS test, you will encounter numbers in different forms. Today we will break down the variety of numbers you might see in each part of your IELTS test and how to structure them.

It is common in IELTS to be asked to listen for a number. The most common number that IELTS use is the number 15 / 50. Many students have a problem with hearing the difference between these numbers.

You might hear numbers in the following forms 

  • Age 
  • Currency 
  • Measurement 
  • Dates 
  • Times 
  • Telephone numbers 
  • Credit card numbers

A Common Mistake with Numbers and a Trick to Help You:

Can you tell the difference between “16” and “60”?

Mistakes with “teen” numbers and “10” numbers are really common on the IELTS Listening Test. (Actually, native English speakers have trouble with them too!)

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The trick for these numbers is to realize that not only is the pronunciation different (sixteen / sixty), but there is also a difference in word stress.

With “sixteen”, the second half of the word is stressed (we say it louder), like this: sixtEEN

With “sixty”, the first half of the word is stressed, like this: SIXty

This is the same for all of the “teen” numbers, and the “10’s” numbers. Let’s go through the list for practice:

                   13               30

                   14               40

                   15               50      (careful, this is the hardest one!)

                   16               60

                   17               70

                   18               80

                   19               90

NUMBERS ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET:

Note that it doesn’t matter whether you write “8” or the word “eight” on your answer sheet… both ways still simply count as a number for the instructions. You should always just write the number (like “8”) to save yourself time.

Big Numbers:

How do we say “1300”? Actually, there are two ways.

  • We could say “one thousand three hundred”.
  • Or, we could say “thirteen-hundred”.

You might hear either on the IELTS Listening Test.

*Note that this is only possible if the second number is not a zero! 3000 is always just “three thousand”… but 3100 can be “three thousand one hundred” OR “thirty-one hundred”!

Let’s go through a list of big numbers for practice:

                   2700

                   27,000

                   270,000

                   2,700,000

BIG NUMBERS ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET:

Note that a big number like “27,000” just counts as one number.

Also, remember that you don’t have to worry about commas or spaces in large numbers. Just write them out like this: 27000. Punctuation (like commas and spaces) doesn’t matter on the listening test.

Money:

Since the IELTS relates to all English speaking countries, you may hear two different kinds of money. They are:

  • Dollars ($)
  • Pounds (£)

Dollars are used in most English speaking countries (Canada, USA, Australia) while pounds are used in the United Kingdom.

When listening to amounts, numbers can be said in different ways. As correct spelling is important in the Listening test, a good tip is to write the numeral you hear, rather than writing the complete word. For example: 

  • 4.50 = Four dollars fifty cents/ Four pound fifty

Pay attention to the test paper to see whether you are listening for the word “dollars” or “pounds”; the questions will always be marked with either the $ or the £ symbols.

MONEY ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET:

Note that you will never be expected to write “dollars” or “pounds” (and you don’t have to include the symbols, either). This notation ($ / £) will already be marked on the question paper. 

Note that any time a symbol for notation is already on the question, make sure you don’t add it into your answer or it will be marked wrong! (for example, if the question says 14. _____ %  and you write “75%” on the line – so it says 75%% – then you would be marked incorrect.)

Telephone Numbers:

Telephone numbers are quite common in Section 1 and 2 of the listening test.

You should learn the pronunciation of numbers in general, but there are also two tricks the IELTS listening test often uses:

1. Zero as “oh”. Often the number zero will be pronounced simply as “oh”. For example:

     780 – 2489

When there are two zeroes in a row, sometimes the text will say “double-oh”. For example:

     983 – 0091

2. The second trick is that sometimes someone will begin to read a telephone number, and then correct themselves with a different one! For example:

     “Okay, so the number is 338… no, wait. That’s my old number. Ah here it is: 342 9740.”

In this case, you will need to be careful to use only the second number for the answer! (You can just scratch out the first… don’t waste time erasing. Remember, the examiner doesn’t look at your test paper, just the answer sheet!)

TELEPHONE NUMBERS ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET:

Remember, spaces between the numbers don’t matter. Again, punctuation is not marked on the listening test!

Watch this lesson to test yourself on listening for these difficult numbers and also review the pronunciation.

Measurements

You may hear different measurements in your test. For example, you might hear measurements as: 

  • Centimetres  
  • Kilometres 
  • Kilograms  

You can abbreviate the word when writing these measurements as numbers. For example, you can write 60 kilometres as: 

  • Sixty kilometers 
  • 60 kilometers 
  • 60 km  
  • 60 kms 

Dates

Dates can be written in a variety of ways. You can use the number or word form, as well as abbreviate days of the week or months of the year. For example: 

  • March 5th 
  • Mar 5th  
  • 5th of Mar  
  • 03/05  
  • 5/3 

Be careful with ordinal numbers. Most ordinal numbers end with ‘th’ except for: 

  • 1st (first) 
  • 2nd (second) 
  • 3rd (third) 
  • 4th (fourth) 
  • 5th (fifth) 

 If you write, for example, 2th, this will be marked as incorrect as the correct format is 2nd

Time

Although times can be said differently, it is generally written in the same way. When writing time, make sure you know what quarter past, quarter to, and half past mean. For example:  

  • 6:45 = Six forty-five OR Quarter to seven 
  • 6:15 = Six fifteen OR Quarter past six 
  • 6:30 = Six thirty OR Half past six 

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