Common Words Found In The IELTS Listening Test

To be honest there really is no way to predict the IELTS  Listening common words might appear In the IELTS listening test but there are some types of words that appear more often than other. In this article we will take a look at a few of the IELTS Listening common words appear frequently during the test as well as give you a few pointers about spelling that might help you avoid costly mistakes. If you are taking the test in Singapore, then read on to find out about the 6 types of words that students struggle with during the listening test. These are usually:

  • Time
  • Numbers
  • Prices
  • Dates
  • Letters
  • Addresses

You must be able to recognise these words and then spell them out correctly.

1. Times

There are many different ways that times can be mentioned during the test, depending on the context. For example,

  • 8 am is the same as 8 o clock
  • 6:30 is the same as half past 6
  • 7:45 is the same as a quarter to 8
  • 2:15 is the same as a quarter past 2
  • 3:10 is the same as 10 minutes past 3
  • 4:55 is the same as 5 minutes to 5

2. Numbers

Numbers can also be spoken in a variety of different ways, depending on the accent of the speaker so take particular care when you hear numbers.

Remember to focus on recording each digit, even with only one wrong digit, you will lose a whole point for that question.

  • Numbers that are often confused are those ending in “teen” such as nineteen vs Ninety.
  • The number 0 (zero) is also often a source of confusion as there are multiple ways of saying zero such as Zero, Oh and nort.
  • Students also misunderstand numbers when the word double is used. For example, 1- 2 – 3 – double 9 corresponds to the number 12399.

3. Addresses

Addresses are usually mentioned as a number followed by a street name; the street name will be spelled out letter by letter. Students need to be familiar with the synonyms of the word Road and their spelling as this part of an address is not spelled out for the listener.

  1. Lane
  2. Street
  3. Avenue
  4. Drive
  5. Close
  6. Grove

4. Dates

Speakers often mention specific dates which include the day of the week such as Monday, Tuesdays etc, as well as months of the year such as January, February,  March etc. There are multiple ways that dates could be mentioned in an IELTS test recording such as, the 14th of May vs May the 14th. This is different to the way you would write down the date in your answer. In this case you would note down the date in your answer sheet as 14 May or 14th May. It’s not necessary to include the words the or of when writing down dates as this would affect the number of words you use.

5. Prices

Dollars ($) and pounds (£) are the two most commonly used types of currency in IELTS. When listening to amounts, numbers can be said in different ways. Since spelling is important in the Listening test, it’s better to write using digits, rather than the complete word. For example:

  • 4.50 = Four dollars fifty cents/ Four pound fifty.
  • Cents can be separated using a decimal point or a comma.

6. Letters

For unique words like the names of people or places, the speaker will often spell out the entire word. In these cases, it’s important to be familiar with the different ways in which certain letters are pronounced. For instance:

  • The letters j and g are often confused with each other.
  • The letters h and z have different American and British pronunciations.
  • Often students mistake double letters for the letter For example if a speaker spells out the word All as A – double L, this signals that we should write the letter L twice.
  • Students also confuse the letters M and N because they have a similar nasal sound.

The most commonly used out words that are spelt out have to do with personal information like names, email or home addresses, place names etc.

Topic Specific Vocabulary

You can also predict the types of words needed for each part of the listening test judging by the types of situations that are usually covered in these sections. For example, Part 1 of the listening test often contains telephonic conversations about finding accommodations, job applications or obtaining tourist information. Part 3 is usually a conversation between students about a group assignment or project. It would be a valuable investment to learn vocabulary related to these topics so that you are not blindsided by unfamiliar words during the test

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.