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IELTS Listening Test: Understanding the Test Format

The IELTS Listening test is the same for General Training and Academic modules and for the paper based and Computer Delivered Tests in terms of timing, grading, length of validity, content, question types and security arrangements

The paper-based test is approximately 30 minutes in length and there is a total of 40 questions with 10 questions per part. You will hear each section only ONCE.

Since 2020, Part 1 of the listening test no longer has an example. There are 4 parts that get increasingly more difficult in terms of the tasks and the content. So, part 1 is the “easiest” and part 4 the “most difficult”.

Paper Based Test

During the test, always write your answers on the question paper then transfer to the answer sheet. You have an additional 10 minutes after the test to transfer your answers. 

Click on the link for information about the IELTS Computer Delivered (CD) Listening Test.

Parts 1-4

IELTS Listening Test Format


Before each part you will hear who will be speaking and the topic - context. This is not written on your question paper. 


“You will hear a conversation between two students discussing the topic of their presentation”

Next, you are given 30-45 seconds to read the instructions and questions before each part starts. 


“First you have time to read questions 1 to 5”

Always follow the instructions particularly for written answers. The instruction “WRITE NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS” does not mean you need to write three words. You can write one, two OR three words.

If the answer is a number, it is best to write it as a number because you risk spelling it wrong, which means it will be marked incorrect. Write 88 not eighty eigth (incorrect spelling).

Writing more than the stated word limit will mean your answer is automatically marked incorrect – even if your answer is correct! Do not change the words you hear in the recording.

If the instruction asks you to...

IELTS Listening Written Answers
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