Common Topics For The IELTS Listening Test

The IELTS listening tests consists of 40 questions divided into four parts. The test lasts for a total of 30 minutes, with 10 additional minutes allocated for transferring your answers. Being prepared for what to expect during the listening test involves more than just understanding the test format. There is no official IELTS Listening Topics list but there are ways to understand what types of situations and topics to expect for each part of the Listening Exam. The test and the topics remain the same regardless of where you take the test, so it does not matter if you register in a country like  Singapore or Brazil. Every part of the listening test represents a different type of situation and the difficulty of questions increases progressively with each part.

The Format of the test is as follows:

The IELTS  Listening test comprises of 40 questions divided into 4 parts and lasts for a total of 30 minutes. You will be given 10 minutes at the end of the exam to transfer your answers neatly to their answer sheet. This time can also be used to check your answers.

The following questions types are included in the Listening test:

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

IELTS Listening Test Part 1

Part 1 is usually a conversation between two speakers in everyday social or semi-social context. The audio in this part is usually a telephonic conversation between two people in certain types of situations, such as inquiring about a tourist destination, college admission, finding accommodation or a job application. The speakers often pause, which makes it easy to follow the conversation. For questions in this part, we need to focus on specific factual information like names, places, times and numbers.

IELTS Listening Test Part 2

Part 2 consists of a talk by a single speaker in a non-academic situation. The questions in this section also focus on factual information. For example, someone could be giving a talk about the features of a tourist spot.

IELTS Listening Test Part 3

In part 3 you will listen to a conversation with up to 4 speakers based on academic topics or course-related situations. This part is mostly about students having an academic discussion about an assignment or planning a presentation or a project. The questions in this section tend to focus on the outcome of a discussion, and you may also be asked to determine a person’s feelings about the issues being discussed. The vocabulary used in this par is also more advanced than the previous two parts

IELTS Listening Test Part 4

Part 4 consists of a university-style lecture or talk. This part of the test usually focuses on academic topics that you would hear in a university lecture. It is considered the most difficult part of the listening test because students are presented with a large amount on information with no pauses in between the recording. The speakers usually offer clues, in the form of linking words, to help test takers understand that different types of information are about to be mentioned. For example, the speaker could introduce an example by saying something like “for instance” or they could signal the end of their talk by saying “to sum up” The questions for this part deal with both factual information as well as the speaker’s opinions and attitudes. In this section, you could hear a lecture about endangered species, global warming and its effects or a talk about business principles etc.

The most efficient and convenient way to pass the specified exam is to take counsel of expert online IELTS tutorials and practice using authentic IELTS Mock tests. It’s important to find a free practice test which is based on actual Cambridge IELTS Tests. Use full-length exams in which you’ll find questions that reflect what you’ll see on the test day and that gives you all the necessary help and information needed to guide you through the test before you start. You can use these practice tests to get a better idea of what the IELTS listening test is actually like.

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.