Different types of questions for the IELTS Listening Module

You have 30 minutes (plus an extra 10 minutes to transfer your notes/answers to your answer sheet after listening to all the recordings) to complete 4 sections with a total of 40 questions, testing different listening skills  such as:

  • listening for specific information like dates, numbers and place names, etc.
  • identifying details
  • identifying gist/main ideas
  • interpreting beyond surface meaning of words, such as the speaker attitude or opinion.

Here is the test format:

  1. Section 1:  A conversation between 2 speakers in a social/informal situation
  2. Section 2: One person giving a talk based on a non-academic situation
  3. Section 3: A conversation with 2 -4 people based on academic topics or course-related situations
  4. Section 4: A university-style lecture or talk

While it’s good to continue practicing general listening skills, it’s good preparation to be familiar with the different question types and to practice specific strategies in answering these types of questions (which I’ll go into more detail later). Below are the different types with some links to sample  questions from ielts.org. You can download the corresponding recordings here from ielts.org.

1. Matching tasks (here’s another example)

2. Completion tasks (fill-in-the-blanks/gap exercises)

3. Plan/Map/Diagram labelling

4. Multiple choice

5. Short-answer questions

In later posts, I’ll be addressing each type of question and what’s the best way to approach each one.  Stay tuned!! And check back :-)


I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

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  1. […] there are specific tips  in approaching the different types of questions, here is the general approach to the IELTS Listening […]

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