If you want to get a great overall IELTS band score, then you will most likely need to have a good performance in the listening test. Fortunately, for many people this is the easiest part to prepare for because they can study in a fun and effective way. However, you still need to take it seriously and prepare effectively by learning all about the exam.
Read on if you want to find out the best methods for boosting your IELTS listening score today.
1. Practice Every Day
It may sound obvious, but this is by far the most important thing that you will read today about IELTS listening. The fact is that if you want to score a band 8 or higher for this test, you simply have to take it seriously and study on a daily basis.
The good news is that you don’t need to do boring practice tests over and over… Instead, you can use all kinds of material to get better at listening in English. You can watch movies, TV shows, or YouTube videos, listen to the radio or podcasts, or tune in to news broadcasts, lectures, or discussions. All of these will help you in a variety of ways.
The important thing is to be an active listener. That means always thinking about what you hear. Don’t just let it be a passive process. Engage with the listening material and write down new words when you hear them. Constantly challenge yourself with questions about content.
Over time, you will become increasingly confident about your listening skills and the IELTS listening test will not seem quite so daunting.
2. Get Used to Different Accents
When you are doing all of that valuable listening practice, don’t forget to expose yourself to different types of accent. Remember that IELTS may be a British test, but English is an international language. This means that you will hear an array of accents.
With English, Scottish, Irish, American, and Australian accents (among others), you will need to be familiar with not just one style if you want to get a high IELTS band score. If you mostly listen to BBC News broadcasts, try to find some Australian ones or watch some American TV presenters to hear the different sounds in their speech.
By exposing yourself to these different accents, you will make it more likely that you will understand the people speaking on the audio recordings of your next IELTS listening test.
3. Understand the Exam Format
Of course, it is important to understand not just English but also the IELTS exam itself. To this end, you need to become familiar with the listening test and how it is structured.
Thankfully, it is not complex and it is in fact the same for both academic and general candidates. You can easily pick up the basics by doing a few practice tests. For example, you should know the time limit (40 minutes) and the number of questions (40). You should also know the four different sections:
Section 1: A short conversation about a daily topic.
Section 2: A monologue on that same topic.
Section 3: A conversation between several people in an academic context.
Section: A monologue on a topic mentioned in the previous section.
When you know this, you will be better prepared to go into the test. You will not be surprised by anything and you will feel more confident. It is also worth learning the common question types and some general rules, such as the fact that the questions and answers will always appear in the same order. Knowing this can help to guide your practice.
4. Build your Vocabulary (Organically)
Vocabulary is incredibly important when it comes to learning any language. It is the basic blocks by which our languages are constructed.
As such, you should have a good vocabulary. This means knowing lots of words from a wide range of topics. One good way to learn is to think of the most common IELTS topics (health, environment, sport, society, education, etc) and then study words related to these. Try to learn these organically, which means absorbing the new language in context rather than by reading long lists. This will give you a more active vocabulary that can more readily be applied to daily English use.
You will then find that when you sit and listen to the recordings in the IELTS exam, you will quickly recognise words that you have heard. If you studied well enough, those words should quickly translate into some meaning in your head, and this will help you to get a better IELTS band score.
5. Grammar Helps, too
Of course, whilst vocabulary is incredibly important, grammar is almost equally important. Without a thorough knowledge of grammar, you would struggle badly in IELTS.
You might think, “But grammar is only important for writing and speaking,” but actually it is also vital for the IELTS listening test. The fact is that without a good knowledge of grammar, you could only make a vague guess at many answers.
At the most basic level, you need to be able to discern between common tenses like present simple, past simple, and present perfect. The subtle differences here can equate to a huge difference in meaning. Thus, by learning all of this you can give yourself a far better chance of hearing the answer.
Also, there are some IELTS listening questions that require a knowledge of grammar. One of these is the sentence completion section. Here, knowing basic grammatical rules can help you figure out the answer. For example, do you need to find an adjective, a noun, or a verb? Just knowing this simple fact can give you a vastly better chance of a correct answer.
6. Learn to Move on…
IELTS would be so easy if you had several hours to do it! Unfortunately, you only have a very limited time and so you must always battle against the clock.
In IELTS listening, you will only hear each answer spoken once, so you must be good at finding that answer, writing it down, and moving on quickly. One problem that many people face is not hearing an answer, then spending too long waiting for it. If the answer was already given, they will not only waste time but miss other answers.
That is because IELTS listening answers come in order. If you missed answer #11 and then waited too long for it, you could miss #12 and #13 before you finally give up. This would mean losing not just one point but three points! That could be the difference between the IELTS band score that you need and the one that you hoped not to get.
Thus, you need to look at the questions in advance, listen as best you can, and be prepared to move on to the next one if you cannot hear the right answer quickly.
If you want to succeed at this part of the test, follow the six pieces of advice given above and incorporate them into your daily IELTS study schedule. These will set you on course for a great IELTS band score. Don’t delay. Start using these ideas today for the best possible chance of IELTS success.