Common Types of IELTS Listening Questions

In this series of articles, we’ve been learning all about the IELTS exam, especially with regard to the IELTS Exam in Singapore. In this article you learn all about the different types of questions that are usually asked in the IELTS Listening exam. The IELTS  Listening Questions include:

  1. Multiple choice
  2. Matching questions
  3. Note, Form, Flowchart completion
  4. Map/plan/diagram labelling
  5. Sentence completion
  6. Short answer type questions

Instructions For Different Types For IELTS Listening Test Questions

Reading the question instructions before you start answering is a must. These directions will tell you whether your answer should be in letters numbers or words. The word limit needed is also important for questions that require words instead of letters as answers.

For example, a question might state “Write no more than 3 words” Meaning that your answer can be one word, two words or three words but not more than that. You would not only have to answer with three words in this case.

Instructions also give us an idea about the types of words needed. For example, if the instructions said “Write only one word and/ or a number”

  • You could answer with just a word – “days
  • You could answer with a number – “3
  • You could answer with both – “3 days

Unfortunately, many candidates answer incorrectly simply because they don’t pay close attention to the instructions.

1. Multiple Choice

This is one of the more common types of questions. In this type of question, you will be given a statement to complete or a question to answer, that is related to the recording. There are two types of MCQs: In one type, you will be asked to choose one option from three given options. In the other type, you will be asked to choose more than one option from a group of options greater than three. For these types of question, it is important to remember to answer with LETTERS only (A, B, or C) on your Answer Sheet and not to write the answer choice word(s)

Matching Questions

Matching Questions usually involve listening for detailed information during a discussion. These types of questions are usually found in section 1 or 3. You have to match the information given in the questions to information in the recording. There are different ways in which this question could be asked, but you will always have more options than questions. The options may be presented inside a box, or as a list of items. Although the questions are in order, the answers might appear in any order during the recording.

Plan/Diagram/Map Questions

You will be asked to identify the different features or areas of a map, plan, or diagram. These types of questions can appear in any section but most often appear in Part 2, since they are usually about a non-academic topic like a guided tour.

You will be given a diagram of either a process, an object or a map which is incomplete and related in some way to the recording. You will have to fill in the blanks. The speaker(s) will describe the diagram/map clearly and logically and you will have to keep track of what you hear. Test takers have to be familiar with the use of prepositions as well as vocabulary related to shapes and spatial relationships.

Completion Questions

You will be asked to fill in the blanks of statements that relate to the recording. In these types of questions, the question numbers follow the same order as in the recording. Completion Tasks appear in all four sections.

The different types of completion tasks are:

  • Note Completion: You will have to complete notes that are based on some type of talk or lecture.
  • Form / Summary Completion: You need to fill in words that complete a summary/ form, based on what you hear.
  • Table Completion: You will need to fill in missing information in a table that contains different categories.
  • Sentence Completion: You will need to complete sentences that are a paraphrase of things mentioned in the recording
  • Flow Chart Completion: This question shows steps or stages in a process. You will need to listen out for the different stages of the process.

Despite having a different layout and structure these types of question follow similar answer strategies

Short Answer Questions

In this type of question, you will have to answer a question based on the recording. You will have to find detailed information related to the audio.


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.