Strategies for Section 2 IELTS Listening – Talk by a single speaker

“Listen to Me” by keela84 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Section 2 of the IELTS Listening test is a monologue (one person talking) based on a general subject in a non-academic situation, such as a short talk on healthy eating or tourist information or a sales presentation.

Here’s a link to a practice test for section 2¬†from the British Council.

Your questions could be filling in the gaps in sentences/notes or on a form or diagram/chart, or multiple choice.

Filling in a chart or diagram:

  • Read the instructions carefully and be aware of how many words you can write for your answer.
  • Look at the heading(s) for columns and rows in a table, look through the questions and identify key words that will help guide what you will be listening for
  • Look at the gaps and try to predict what word could fill in the gap based on what you’ve skimmed in the questions or diagram/table. To predict the possible answer for the gap – think of the type of word it could be – such as a noun, adjective, verb or adverb.
  • Be aware that you may not hear the exact same words as the key words you’ve identified from your questions from the form you have to fill in. Be prepared to listen out for similar expressions or different ways to express the same thing.

If you listened to the practice test for Section 2 from the link I gave above, here are some notes I’d like to point out:

In questions 11-14:

Notice the words you hear are different from the words used in the statements.

  • For example, Q11 says “if you do not have an appointment”. In the recording, you hear the speaker say that xx is available for “drop-ins”, which refers to people who don’t have appointments.
  • Another example is the statement in Q12, which says, “if it is your first time seeing a counsellor”. The speaker says “if you have never seen a counselor before …”
  • So as you can see, these are different ways to express the same thing – be prepared to listen out for this.

In questions 15 – 20:

  • You are filling out a table of notes, make sure you understand the headings in both columns and rows to know what to listen out for.
  • The gaps follow the recording, so don’t worry about having to jump around. Tackle each one at a time in order. If you missed one, keep moving so that you don’t miss the next one and end up getting lost.
  • Take advantage of the time given to skim over the questions and try to predict the answer that could fit into the gap. For example, Q18, in the Anxiety Workshop, you see ” ___________, breathing techniques, meditation, etc.” for Q18 as content of the workshop. What word(s) (remember, the instructions say no more than 2 words) can you guess that would fit in with meditation and breathing techniques to reduce anxiety? Note it down to the side – you may actually hear the word you predicted!



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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