IELTS Listening test; A comprehensive pathway to scoring Band-8 and above

IELTS: A Descriptive Overview of the IELTS listening General Training Test for Immigrants who want to migrate to Australia from Qatar and crucial tips to achieving a minimum band score of 8.

This article will cover a comprehensive overview of the IELTS listening exam under the General training test and the proactive steps that you need to take to achieve a minimum band score of 8. A lot of my clients have harnessed this vital information.

Before we go into details, it is pertinent to provide a brief overview of the IELTS exam. Over the years, institutions, organizations, and immigration bodies in English speaking countries have used IELTS as proof to confirm an individual’s fluency in the use of the English language.

The International English Language Testing System works with a maximum band score between 0 to 9. There are two categories (Academic & General); however, since we are using it for either Australia, New Zealand, or Canadian immigration in Qatar, we shall focus on the General Training test.


The exam tests your fluency in four areas of the English language. Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Reading. Listening and speaking have the same format, while reading and writing differs in the Academic and General Training test. Generally, your IELTS result is valid for two years.

Now let us jump to the guide that will provide the necessary information to getting the minimum band score ‘’8’’ in your IELTS listening test.

IELTS Listening Exam: What Is It All About?

The IELTS listening exam tests your ability to extract, decipher, and correlate information from a social and academic point of view. It achieves by providing a recorded transcript and requesting you to answer some questions based on the information contained in the audio.

You will use the paper format for this text because you will provide the answers in a booklet. They will provide four recorded version. Each record has its characteristics, as shown in the table below:


A table showing the four types of recoded texts in a typical IELTS listening exam.

You will answer ten questions for each recording that you listen to and the total time provided for this section is 40 minutes. Thirty minutes to answer forty questions on a piece of paper, and an extra 10 minutes to carefully transfer it to the IELTS standard answer booklet.

It is also pertinent to note that each question carries one mark, and there are no negative markings. So, do not hesitate to guess answers that seem difficult.

According to statistics from IELTS; In 2017, among individuals who took the General Training test for immigration purposes, 87% of candidates scored between band 5.5 – 8.0, while 78% scored between band 5.5 – 7.5. Below is a breakdown of the performance for immigration IELTS test-takers in 2017.

Also, in terms of gender, the 2017 statistics for the listening test showed an average band performance of 6.66 from female students, and 6.62 as the mean performance for male students, respectively.

IELTS listening section: What do they want from you?

  • The examiners want to test your capacity to understand relevant ideas in conversations
  • Ability to link points together in a detailed manner
  • Your efficacy in discovering the intention of a speaker
  • Decipher the attitude, tone, and direction of the speaker
  • Capacity to relate events via information, and track the flow of ideas
  • Finally, your ability to pay attention to details, no matter how minimal they appear.

What are the various task types in the IELTS Listening exam?

The IELTS Listening questions can come in about six different formats. I shall explain these formats and provide relevant resources below the page that will help you to practice lots of tests and their corresponding answers.

Moreover, the whole question in a recording can be based on one single format or a mix of them.


1: Multiple Choice questions

Here, you will have a variety of possible answers and asked to choose the right option(s). Sometimes, you can be asked to eliminate the inappropriate response, or in some cases, required to select multiple correct answers from the list.

Whatever your situation may be, all you need to do is to listen attentively to the audio and figure out the right choice.

2: Sentence Completion

The question appears as a “fill in the gap.” Looks quite simple right? Yes, but that is if you’re able to discover vital information in a conversation. You have to know what caused a situation and its corresponding effect. Most importantly, you have to read the instructions carefully.

3: Matching

A question that appears in this type requires you to match several items in a list to the options provided in the question paper. It is a test of your ability to focus on details and how you can correlate these details with each other. The list can be different types of schools, bars, or hotels.

4: Short Answer Questions

Here, you have to provide concise answers based on what you have heard in the audio file. You have to be very cautious here as the examiners will give a word limit for the answers. If the solution requires ‘’no more than three words,’’ please do not write above that.

Moreover, a hyphenated word such as “test-taker” is counted as one word. Also, the examiner might request you to provide a list to the answers, but it must not exceed the total number of words stated in the instructions.

The main task with such a question relies on getting information about places or data within the recorded text.

5: Tables and Flow Charts

Here, you’ll be requested to focus on some information regarding the recorded text and either summarize them in a table, form or flow charts. All these will relate to the recorded version.

Also, ensure that you meticulously follow the instructions regarding the number of words in the instructions.

6: Diagrams and Maps

In some cases, your questions can come in the form of a map where you’ll be required to complete traces or fill in some information on the chart. E.g., a building, city, ornaments, or instruments.

The possible answers will be provided in the question booklet; your duty is to assess the information in the audio and relate them with the options provided.

So, your primary task is to be able to find a relationship between links and directions through the provided information.

Note: Ensure you put down the correct spelling of words when transferring your answers to the booklet. Every misspelled word signify a wrong answer. There is no assumption in IELTS exams.

How Is the Listening Test Graded?

Qualified and reliable examiners grade the examination with a high level of efficacy and integrity. Aside from that, the examiners also have to send the graded sheets to Cambridge Assessment English (CAE) for further review before it can be approved.

For the listening section, the total correct score is divided by 40 and multiplied by nine. Total correct score/Total obtainable score (40) * 9

I.e., the total correct score X 9 = Overall listening band score


For example, a candidate that scores 35 correct answers out of the 40 questions will get a band score of 7.875 (approximated as Band – 8). 35/40 * 9. 

Band 8 and above in IELTS Listening test? The Dos and Don’ts

  • The fundamental action is ‘’practice.” Even the deaf will get a high score if he or she engages in the consistent practice of IELTS listening sample tests.
  • You can only listen to the record once; so, do not spend much time on a section while depriving other parts of quality time. The best approach is to practice repeated listening with your sample tests; afterward, train yourself to listen to the audio once while answering the questions at the same time. Repeat the process severally before your exam until you master the art.
  • Do not forget to transfer your answers to the standard answer booklet within 10 minutes. You will find a resource to a sample booklet below this page.
  • You won’t be marked negatively for a wrong answer; therefore, always put your guessing abilities to use. Leaving a space is not advisable because that guess could be the right option.
  • Although there is no penalization for lowercases, use UPPERCASES for clarity.
  • Focus, concentration, and patience is the key. From my experience as an IELTS coach for seven years, the questions become difficult as you graduate from recording 1 to 4. Now, you have to practice how to maintain focus while listening to lengthy conversation; else, you would lose concentration along the line.
  • Whenever you miss an answer, move to the next question as you only have the opportunity to listen once.
  • In multiple-choice task types, be cautious of similar answers as they might not mean the same thing.
  • Some answers can appear in a plural form. E.g., ‘’sanctions.’’ Therefore, do not forget to add the ‘’s’’ while writing the answer. Writing ‘’sanction’’ rather than ‘’sanctions’’ means your answer is wrong. So, pay rapt attention to the speaker so that you can appropriately decipher the correct state of words.
  • Do not try to digest and process everything you hear because some of the information is not relevant to your questions. Pay attention so that you can pick the relevant ones out of the recorded transcript.
  • From experience, you can get your answers in the audio very fast, capitalize on that, write them down and move forward. However, towards the fourth audio, the answers might take a while to appear as the speech becomes lengthy; remain collected and do not lose your concentration.
  • If the multiple-choice questions instruct you to put down the letter to the answer, please do not write the word. For example, in Fa question where the correct answer is option A – Succor; Write down ‘’A’’ as the answer, rather than writing the full word ‘’Succor.’’
  • Avoid spelling errors and always ensure that you comply with the number of words that the examiner requests.
  • Finally, you cannot achieve this if you do not devote a part of your busy schedule to practice. The more you rehearse, the lesser your chances of making cheap mistakes.

IELTS Listening Test: Relevant Resources

IELTS Sample Listening Questions

Download page for various IELTS task types and their answers

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