Improve listening for IELTS

IELTS Listening

Today I’m answering a listener question about how to improve your listening skills for the IELTS exam. If you’d like me to cover more IELTS materials in future lessons, please feel free to let me know.


IELTS = International English Language Testing System

IELTS is a popular English exam taken all over the world. It’s useful for immigration purposes, universities, getting jobs, or even just testing your level.

Exam Overview

The listening exam is a 30-minute exam with 4 recordings.

Recording 1 – everyday conversation

Recording 2 – everyday monologue

Recording 3 – academic conversation

Recording 4 – academic monologue

There are 6 types of questions and you will get some of these randomly. You can practice them online on your own or with a tutor.

IELTS uses different accents (British, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi, American)

Here’s a video comparing different English-speaking accents

My Advice

1. Listen Every Day

Listen every day – it doesn’t have to be just for IELTS. Any listening you can do is an achievement.

If you’re listening to this podcast – you’re already doing great! (try avoiding subtitles unless you really can’t understand a particular word)

2. Try Practice Tests

There are many practice listening tests online which you can try. This is a good idea if you want to practice the format of the exam and practice listening for specific information

Some Examples of Online Tests

British Council IELTS Tests


IELTS Essentials

3. Numbers!

Numbers come up a lot in the exam, so practice the difference between difficult numbers.

16 / 60

$117 / $170

Answers to the numbers I said:

51st (fifty-first)

1613 (sixteen thirteen – as a date)

89 (eighty-nine)

12th (twelfth)

Practice listening to numbers here: English Numbers 

4. Spelling

Also, make sure you are confident at listening to spellings

Answers to my questions


Carlos – the correct spelling (“Karlos” is wrong)

More practice with spellings: IELTS Liz

5. Listen actively

Listen actively, not passively. This means really pay attention to what you’re listening to and don’t just put on some audio in the background.

6. Word Forms & Synonyms

Practice word forms and synonyms 

I mentioned the difference between “Produce” and “Production” (verb → noun).

But also the difference in pronunciation between “EXport” and “exPORT” (noun → verb)

For more practice, here’s a place to change the forms of the words: English Grammar Online

Practise the stress in words here: Word Stress

Links and Resources

Join Level Up English

Sign up to Level Up English to access online courses and join our global learning community.

Sign Up

2 thoughts on “#20 Improving Your Listening for IELTS Exam”

  1. Thank you very much, this podcast help me a lot to prepare for my test. I would be grateful if you did another podcast about ielts especially for writing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top