How Is The IELTS Listening Test Conducted?

How is IELTS Listening test conducted

The IELTS Listening Test is one of the most scoring sections of the IELTS Test. However, there are a lot of questions about just how the test is conducted. Unlike the Writing or Reading sections, the format and the method of how the test is conducted are not very obvious. Before you start preparing for the IELTS Listening section, you should know how the test is conducted.

IELTS Listening is usually the first section out of the three you will take on your exam day. Overall you listen to about 4 audios to answer 40 questions in about 30 minutes. On an IELTS paper-based test, you get extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. There are four parts, with one audio and 10 questions in each part. You will have to answer the questions while the audio is playing. The test will be conducted with a headset or a speaker system depending on the centre you are giving your examination.


What exactly happens on the exam?

On the test day, once students are settled on their seats, they are offered the question papers and answer sheets in case of paper-delivered tests. Whereas, on the computer-delivered tests, you will sit in front of the computer and get a rough sheet in case you need to take notes.

IELTS Listening Audio Format for both IELTS Computer-delivered and IELTS paper-based tests

Time distribution of IELTS Listening

The IELTS Listening section has four audios, which are stitched together in one big audio of about 30 minutes. You will not be allowed to pause, rewind or forward the audio when the exam is on. However, you will be given approximately 1 minute to read about 5 questions in advance. Then you will hear a recording answering those questions only. After that, you will also get about 30 seconds to verify your answers.

What is in the audios of IELTS Listening?

The audios will be a mix of monologues and conversations. In monologues, you may hear one person giving you all the information, whereas in conversations at least a couple of people are talking to each other.

Headset V/S Speaker Set

On IELTS paper-based test

The IELTS Listening Test might be conducted with a headset or a speaker system, depending on the city you are giving your exam in. We suggest asking around locally to find out which one is applicable to your city. That way, you can practice either with a headset or a speaker set right from the beginning. You will want to practice with the way the test is conducted so that you are not taken by surprise on the day of the exam.

In IELTS Computer-delivered test

Almost all centres provide headsets to listen to the audio on the IELTS Computer-delivered test.

Difference between IELTS paper-based test and IELTS computer-delivered test while submitting the answers

On paper-based IELTS, since you listen to the audio and simultaneously answer the questions, you need to note them on the question-paper itself in about 30 minutes. After that, you need to transfer them on the answer-sheet in about 10 minutes. The answer sheet has two columns with 20 answers on each side. Do not worry about running out of space to write your answers as you will not be asked to write more than 3 words for an answer in any case.
On the other hand, you get only 2 minutes to verify your answers on computer-delivered IELTS since you can simply type the answers or select them on the computer screen.

Should I use a pencil or a pen to write my answers?

Please use simple wooden pencils on the IELTS Listening section. Understand, you must answer the questions in real-time. So, you cannot afford to use a mechanised lead pencil. You may break the lead or run out of those at a crucial juncture.
Also, using pens can be a bit tricky as you cannot change your answer in case you use a pen.

Summary table of IELTS Listening section


Criteria for comparison

IELTS Paper-based

IELTS Computer-delivered

Number of parts on the test



Number of questions in each part



The overall number of questions



Total time 

30 minutes

30 minutes

Extra time 

10 minutes to transfer and verify answers

2 minutes to confirm answers

headset or loudspeaker

depends on the centre


How is IELTS Listening section scored?

Each correct answer earns 1 mark. The summation of all marks is your raw score on the IELTS Listening section. The following table elaborates how the number of correct answers corresponds to bands.


No. of correct answers




















Share with your friends.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Leave a Reply

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