Strategies for IELTS Listening

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Unit 3 : General test-taking strategies

During each section

Between each section of the Listening test, there is a 30-second silence. You will now learn useful strategies to use during each section:

  • Get essential information from the spoken introduction to the section and from the written instructions and the questions before the 30-second break.
  • Read the questions more carefully and underline key words during the 30-second break.
  • Predict the organisation of the listening passage during the 30-second break.
  • Read the questions ahead while you listen to the passage (be “two steps ahead”).
  • In the paper-based test, write your answers while you listen.
  • In the computer-delivered test, choose or type your answers while you listen.

The Question Booklet

After you identify the key information from the spoken introduction, you should also quickly look at the written instructions and the questions to determine:

  • the types of questions you need to answer
  • the number of questions you will answer for each question type and
  • the word limit for the answers.
  • Reading the questions more carefully and underlining key words during the 30-second break

    After the spoken introduction, you are given 30 seconds to read the questions. In this time, you need to read the questions carefully and underline the key words in both the instructions and the questions.

    Key words in instructions

    The key words are the important words. In the instructions, the key words tell you the word limit for the answers. Look at the following example.

    Example 1
    Questions 21-25Complete each sentence with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each space.

    These instructions tell you that the word limit is a maximum of three words and/or a number.

    Key words in the instructions can tell you other important information. Look at the following example.

Key words in questions

In the questions, the key words can be:

Predicting the organisation of the passage during the 30-second break

Another important strategy you should use during the 30-second break is to predict the organisation of the listening passage by looking at the key words in the questions.

The organisation of the questions will follow the same organisation as the listening passage, so looking at the key words you have underlined will prepare you for the organisation of ideas in the passage.

To prepare yourself for the organisation of the passage, you need to:

  • look at the key words you have underlined for each question type
  • notice the topic(s) mentioned from these key words.
Siddhi
Siddhi
Look at the key words Siddhi underlined in the questions below and predict how the information in the passage is organised.

 

Questions 12-14Complete the table with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
What percent of fatal crashes were caused by driver fatigue in 1988? 12 …………………..
What percent of fatal crashes were caused by driver fatigue in 1998? 13 …………………..
What percent of crashes in the country were related to fatigue? 14 …………………..

Questions 15-17

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

What are two ways that fatigue causes accidents?
15 ………………………………
16 ………………………………

What is one way of managing driver fatigue?
17 ………………………………

What can we predict from the key words Siddhi underlined?

We can predict that the organisation of the listening passage on driver fatigue will probably move from:

statistics on the number of fatal crashes caused by driver fatigue(Q 12-14), to

ways that driver fatigue causes accidents (Q 15-16), to

ways of managing or preventing fatigue (Q17)

Therefore, there are three main topic areas in this listening passage:

  • statistics on,
  • causes of and
  • prevention related to driver fatigue.

Predicting the organisation of a passage will help you to feel more prepared and confident to begin listening and then answer the questions.

So far we have looked at strategies you should use before and during the 30-second break in each section of the Listening test. Now let’s look at two very useful stategies to use while you listen:

  • being “two steps ahead”
  • writing answers while you listen.

Being “two steps ahead” while you listen

When you are listening to the passages during the test, you may find there are large amounts of time when you hear a lot of information which does not answer the questions. Don’t worry when this happens, just continue to listen carefully.

It is also common that answers will come quite close together, particularly in Section 1 when you hear simple details concerning names, places, dates, times, etc.

For both situations, being “two steps ahead” will help you be prepared to hear the answers. Being “two steps ahead” means that while you are listening for the answer to one question, you are also listening for the key words you underlined in the following two questions.

Let’s look at an example of how to do this.

 

Example: Section 1 – Being “two steps ahead”

 


Jemima
Here is the example Section 1 we saw earlier. An IELTS teacher, Jemima, has written some notes explaining how you can read the questions ahead in the first part of this section.Click on the buttons under the questions to read her notes.

 

SECTION 1             Questions 1-10Questions 1-7

Complete the notes below using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer.

Premier Tickets Order Form

Example:
Concert:
Answer:
Helen Mayne…..
Place: 1 ………………………..Theatre
Date: 2 ………………………………….
Time: 3 ………………………………….
Number of tickets: ………….Two…………………
Cost of tickets: 4 ……………………………each
Credit card:
  Type: 5 ………………………………….
  Number: ………4809 372 7506………..
  Expiry date: 6 ………………………………….
  Name of holder: 7 ………………………………….
  Telephone number: ………..7261 5834…………..

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