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Learn Everything about IELTS Listening: Priyamvada Agarwal

The IELTS Exam is one of the best assessments, which measures the language proficiency of a candidate who intends to work or study abroad. Priyamvada in the video stresses the Listening part of IELTS exclusively. Here she mainly discussed three major topics.

1. Listening section overview

2. Listening multiple-choice questions strategies

3. Listening map labeling strategies

1.Listening overview:


  • Approx. 30 minutes (audio plays)+ 10minutes answer transfer time

Number of Questions

  • 40 questions

Types of questions

  • Multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labeling, form and note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, summary completion, sentence completion, short-answer questions.

Skills assured

  • Understanding of main ideas and specific factual information; recognising opinions, attitudes, and purpose of the speaker and flowing development of an argument.

During the examination, you would hear an audio clip that would be played in the exam hall. You will be provided with headphones. The audio would be played for 20 minutes, and you won't have any control over the start, stop or play button. It would be played only once, and you can scribble on your notepad or question paper while listening to the audio. After the audio stops, you will have 10 minutes to answer the questions on the answer sheet.

Section Division-

The forty questions are divided into 4 sections. Each section contains 10 questions.

Section 1

  • Dialogue set- a conversation between two people sent in an everyday social context.

Section 2

  • Monologue set in an everyday social context (monologue is one person speaking)

Section 3

  • Conversation between up to 4 people set in an educational or training context.

Section 4

  • Monologue on an academic subject.

Few points to remember while answering these four sections-

1. Section one starts very slowly, so you can hear all the words properly. Answers are very clear and direct.

2. In section two the speed is a little faster but the answers are very clear and direct. Questions are multiple-choice; fill in the blanks or maps/plan page. You will get 30-40 seconds to read the instructions and work on them.

3. In section three, the speed goes a little higher. You may have to solve: fill in the blanks, multiple-choice etc. The answers are a bit confusing. So you must be very careful.

4. Section four is difficult as the speed is really high and the answers are not direct. The answers are mostly in paraphrase words or are in an indirect manner.

5. While listening to the audio, marking the keywords would help to answer in minimal time.

2.Types of questions:

Multiple- Choice question

  • This type of question is commonly found in PARTS 2, 3 and 4 of the listening test.
  • The questions can get harder as the section of the test progresses.
  • There are 3 types of these Multiple Choice Questions.

Different types- of multiple-choice questions

Different types of multiple choice questions - IELTS Exam

Difficulties with listening to Multiple Choice Questions-

  • Hearing all the words-

In this type of question, it is very likely that you will hear ALL the words that are given as answer choices. Two will obviously not be referring to the answer, so it is very important to listen very carefully to make sure the right answer is selected from the given answer choices.

  • Similar choices-

Another problem faced is that the answer choices given can be very similar and the information heard about each choice may be quite similar to each other. For instance, all the choices may refer to years, so it is easy to choose the wrong one.

  • Paraphrases and synonyms-

Sentences and words that are heard will often be changed from the actual listening script. The test would be quite easy if the same thing is heard exactly as seen in the question, thus it will be changed in some way.

  • A different order-

The audio heard may not necessarily give the information or choices in the same order as mentioned in the question on the paper.

Tips to score high in Multiple Choice Answers-

  • Read the instructions carefully.

  • Read the questions and identify what is actually being asked. Highlight the keyword in the question.

  • Look at the different options that help you tell the difference in meaning.

  • Think of any synonyms or paraphrases you might hear.

  • When listening, listen for any keywords and synonyms.

  • Don't write the first answer you hear. Be careful with answers that are given by the speaker and then taken away.

  • Don't spend any more time than is necessary. If you miss an answer, make a guess and move on.


3.Listening labelling question:

  • This type of question is commonly found in PARTS 2 of the listening test.
  • Some common labelling options are-Plan, Map or Picture.

Two types of labelling a Map or Plan are:

1. In one type of plan or a map, someone gives information to an audience about an event or shows them around a building such as a university or a hotel.

2. In the other type of plan or map, you need to identify the different parts of the map or plan by listening to and understanding the description or following directions.

Some commonly used terms used in labelling questions-

  • In/at the top/at the bottom
  • On the left/ on the right/on the far side
  • North/South/East/West
  • To the north/to the West
  • Slightly west of
  • In the southwest/in the northeast
  • In the middle of/in the centre of
  • Above/below
  • Inside/outside
  • Opposite/ in front of
  • Left-hand side/right-hand side
  • Clockwise/anticlockwise
  • A little beyond
  • Just past
  • Before you get to
  • Adjoining
  • Enter via
  • Runs alongside

Difficulties with listening LABELING questions

Vocabulary and Functional Language-

To be able to follow the locations and directions while answering the questions as you listen to the track, it is very important to be aware of the common words and useful language to make sure the right answer choices are noted.

  • Too much information-

Another problem faced is that the information provided is the listening track is much more than the question requires. So it is essential to not only listen but also to follow a description or directions, understand the map or diagram and write short notes, all at the same time. Unless you can imagine what it looks like, it is very difficult to answer these questions.

  • Spellings-

A common problem in all IELTS listening questions, but particularly in this type of question because you have to do so many things at the same time.

  • Visualization-

This refers to your ability to form mental visuals images. You will be sitting in an exam room, and the person talking will be describing a plan you have never seen.

Tips for scoring high in Labeling Answers

Know the vocabulary of location

Identify where the numbers start and finish

Understand the context

Look out for other clues in the map.

Multi-task; look at two questions at once.

Tutor Bio: Priyamvada Agarwal is a British Council certified IELTS trainer who has been teaching since 2010. She has trained more than 5000 students in both the General and Academic modules of IELTS. Priyamvada has been with UrbanPro for the last five years and has taught many students through this platform.


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