IELTS Listening | Exclusive Guide on Exam Pattern & Marking Scheme

IELTS Listening Exam Pattern is simple. If I have to explain it in brief, then I’ll just use 4 sentences.

  • You get 30 minutes.
  • There are a total of 4 sections. All with different audio conversations.
  • You have to answer 40 questions based on what you listen.
  • You get an extra 10 minutes in the end to write answers.

This is something that you might already know. The pattern of IELTS Listening exam is a bit complex than what you know and in order to score a good band in IELTS Listening, you need to know all the details. So, to help you let’s first begin with the exam pattern and later on we’ll move on to the IELTS Listening marking scheme.

IELTS Listening Exam Pattern

The listening module of IELTS exam is basically of 40 minutes. Out of this 30 minutes are given for listening to the audio and 10 minutes are given to transfer your answers to the main answer sheet. As mentioned above there are 4 sections. All these 4 sections are basically different audio clips and each section has some questions that you need to answer.

Let us dig deeper into these 4 sections, what kind of audio they use and the type of questions asked. But before this, it is essential to know some basic details:

  • The listening test starts easy and the questions get harder. Section 1 is easy. Section 2 is moderate. Section 3 is hard and the questions in Section 4 is harder.
  • The context of each section is different. One section may be 2 people talking socially, second may be a training seminar or something, third may be a conversation between 2 or more people and so on.
  • As per the IELTSĀ ListeningĀ Pattern, there are a total of 40 questions – 10 questions in each section.

Section 1

The first recording in IELTS Listening is basically a conversation between two people. It is set in an everyday social context such as talking about an event, party, class, etc.

Section 2

The second part is more of an academic context. In this section, a recording is played where one person is giving a speech to a group.

Section 3

This section of IELTS Listening deals more into Training & Education. Here you’ll listen to a recorded conversation between up to four people. For example, a university tutor and students discussing an assignment.

Section 4

The last section is again a monologue where just one person is speaking. This is again in an academic context but the questions in this section are a bit more harder as compared to first 3 sections.

IELTS Listening – Type of Questions Asked

Multiple Choice Type Questions – You will be given 5 to 6 choices and you’ll have to select 3 out of them.

Selecting the Right Answer – This is also like multiple choice type questions but here you are asked to select just one correct answer out of 4 or more options.

Form Completion – This type of question comes most probably a telephonic conversation where you are asked to fill in the address, contact number and other such details.

Labelling a diagram – There are multiple blanks that point to different parts of a diagram and you have to fill in the right answers while listening to the audio.

Short Answer Questions – In this type of IELTS Listening question, you are asked to answer in three words (if specified). It can even by more than that.

Sentence Completion – This is similar to fill in the blanks. The blank can be one word, two words or three words and you’ll have to complete the sentence.

Matching – This type of IELTS Listening question deals with matching the right words on the left with the right ones on the right-hand side.

Marking Scheme for IELTS Listening

The most common band for IELTS listening in Asian countries is 6 and 6.5. This means that most people get more than 50% of the questions correct. As mentioned above, IELTS listening exam pattern is such that it goes on to become harder as the test progresses. Section 4 is the hardest. It’s not that the listening is difficult, but you can say that the questions are twisted.

The above IELTS listening marking scheme tells you how many bands will you score upon the number of questions you get right in the exam. Remember, there are total 40 questions in the listening module of IELTS.

So, if you had a question in your mind – How to get 7 bands in IELTS listening, now you know that you need to get at least 30 questions right out of total 40. Every question is of 1 mark.

It is easy to score marks in the first 2 sections. So, make the most of it. The only thing you need to take care of is not to commit spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or other silly mistakes while transferring your answers to the answers sheet at the end.

Ajay Deep

I'm Ajay Deep, founder of Before being an entrepreneur, I have worked as an IELTS trainer, examiner and evaluator for 8 years. With vast experience in this domain, I wish to share my knowledge to help candidates score a good band. You can reach out to me at