How should you prepare for the listening exam?

The listening test is the most challenging part of the English language exam. Here are some tips from BELS Malta English school to help.

1. Read Instructions Properly

In the IELTS listening you’ll have to read the instruction for each task. You’ll often see an instruction that says ‘write no more than 3 words’ or something similar. Keep an eye out for these, and follow the instructions carefully. Marks will be reduced if the instructions are not adhered to in the IELTS listening tasks.

2. Get used to British English

A large part of the IELTS listening tapes use British accents. Sometimes you’ll find Australian or Canadian accents as well, but the majority of the time the accents are British. In order to familiarise yourself with these, you could listen to the BBC regularly. Because of this, the IELTS listening tasks also tend to use British vocabulary – learning British versions of certain words (lorry (uk) – truck (us) will be helpful for the IELTS listening exam.

3. Spelling Counts

The IELTS listening test is not just listening actually utilises other skills, like writing and reading. When you’re writing you have to be very careful with spelling—misspelling words counts as an incorrect answer. Practice your spelling, learn spelling rules, and test yourself beforehand.

The speakers in the IELTS listening test also spell out words sometimes, like names or surnames. When they do this, they might say ‘double’ – ‘Allison’ will be spelt out as ‘A, double l, i, s, o n’ – keep this in mind.

4. Plural vs. Singular

Listen carefully to weather you need to write down a plural or a singular. If the question in the IELTS listening task requires a singular answer (cat) and you write the plural (Cats), it will be incorrect.

5. Practice tests

By doing practice test you’ll familiarise yourself with the structure and language used in the IELTS listening exams. Do as many as you can, even if you don’t do well at first, just keep practising. All IELTS preparation books come with a CD that has IELTS listening tests.

6. Predict Answers

Sentence completion tasks and gap-fill tasks are common in the IELTS listening exam. These sentences are usually easy to predict. Predicting the answer increases your chance of getting the answer right.

For instance, if the sentence says— ‘The woman will travel on ___________’ – it’s easy to predict a logical answer (a train, a plane, a bus, a ship). Write down some predictions in pencil, then when the tape is played you’ll have an idea of what to listen out for. If the answer is one of the predictions, you’ll save time.

This can also be done in the IELTS listening gap-fill sentences task. If you have a sentence like – ‘He has three ________’ – predicting the answer is not as easy. However, it’s easy to predict whether a noun, a verb, or an adjective is needed. Being prepared will help you distinguish the word easily.

7. Be aware of changes

Often in the IELTS listening exam, they might say an answer and then change it. They might say a telephone number, and then correct it. So be careful throughout.

8. Numbers

Get used to listening to large group of numbers in sequence. Listen for the difference between 13 and 30, 15 and 50 etc., as they often sound similar, especially when feeling stressed during an IELTS listening exam!

9. Join a preparation course in Malta

Our IELTS preparation courses use authentic material and provide practical tips needed to obtain a high score. If you’d like to find out your current level, and how to improve your English to obtain the desired score, get in touch with us on [email protected] 

On behalf of BELS Malta, we wish you luck for your IELTS listening exam! For information about our IELTS preparation courses, contact us at [email protected]

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