IELTS Listening Test

The IELTS Listening test is approximately 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes as transfer time. The Listening test is the same for both the Academic and General Training modules.

Overview of the IELTS Listening Test

Timing: Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time)

Questions: There are 40 questions. A variety of question types is used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labeling, form completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, and short-answer questions.


Section 1

 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency).

Section 2  is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference).
Section 3 is 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, or a group of students planning a research project).
Section 4

 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture).

  • Each section is heard once only.
  • A variety of voices and native-speaker accents is used.


Skills Assessed:

A wide range of listening skills is assessed, including understanding of main ideas and specific factual information; recognizing opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker, and following the development of an argument.

IELTS Listening Marking:

All IELTS marking takes place at the test center by trained markers and examiners. Markers are trained to understand the IELTS marking policy and are required to demonstrate that they are marking to standard before they are allowed to mark Listening and Reading papers.

IELTS Listening paper contains 40 items and each correct item is awarded one mark; the maximum raw score a candidate can achieve on a paper is 40. Band scores ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 are awarded to candidates on the basis of their raw scores.

Although all IELTS test materials are pretested and trialed before being released as live tests, there are inevitably minor differences in the difficulty level across tests. In order to equate different test versions, the band score boundaries are set so that all candidates’ results relate to the same scale of achievement. This means, for example, that the Band 6 boundary may be set at a slightly different raw score across versions.

The table below indicates the mean raw scores achieved by candidates at various levels in Listening and provides an indication of the number of marks required to achieve a particular band score.

Listening band score Raw score out of 40
4 9
4.5 12
5 16
5.5 19
6 23
6.5 27
7 30
7.5 33
8 35

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