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The listening component

Task description
The IELTS listening test takes approximately 30 minutes. The listening material is recorded on a cassette tape which you will hear only once. There are four sections in the listening test presented in order of increasing difficulty. The first two sections are on topics of general interest such as a report of a lost bag or an introduction to a public facility. Section one will be in the form of a dialogue, section two will be a monologue.

Sections three and four will have an education or training focus. There will be a lecture and a discussion between two and four people.

As you listen you should write your answers on the question booklet. At the end of the recorded material you will be given ten minutes to copy your answers onto the answer sheet.

Most candidates come out of the listening test not feeling very confident of their answers after listening to the recording only once. For this reason it is very important that you take a number of timed practice listening tests before the actual exam day to become familiar with the style of questions asked, the speed of the speech and to develop the skill of recording your answers as you listen.

Sample task


The following sample questions are based on section four of the listening test (a short lecture with an education or training focus). Generally each of the four extracts will be divided into sections so that you will have only a few questions to answer at a time. You will be given a few seconds after each section to check your answers and read the next group of questions. In the real IELTS test the questions will not test your understanding of a point in the listening material more than once, as they may do here. For more information about the other sections of the test, consult the recommended IELTS guidebooks.

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Sample question one: selecting topics


Task description
You will be provided with a number of topics, three of which summarise parts of the listening text. The others are not discussed in the listening text. Your task is to decide which three topics are discussed.

Sample task
Tick the THREE items which are discussed in the talk.

A. Teaching schedule for student teachers
B. Safety issues for student teachers on the field trip
C. Accommodation
D. How the field trip fits into the teaching degree
E. Vietnamese students' level of proficiency in English
F. How the work requirements for the field trip compare with the work requirements for student teachers who remain in Australia
G. Quality of English language teaching in Vietnamese universities
H. Textbooks commonly used in Vietnamese English classes

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Sample question two: summary completion


Task description
The input for this type of question will be a summary of all or part of the listening text. The summary will contain a number of gaps. All of the information in the summary will be contained in the listening text although the words used may be different. Your task is to complete the summary using not more than three words for each gap.

Sample task
Complete the notes below by writing no more than three words in the spaces provided.

Simon Taylor, a ......... from the education faculty, gave some information about the ......... to ......... which will be held in the .......... The student teachers will complete three weeks in a Vietnamese language centre involving ten hours of ......... and ten hours of ..........

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Sample question three: multiple choice


Task description
In this question type you will be given a 'stem' which may be an incomplete sentence (e.g. Questions 1 and 32 below) or a question (e.g. question 2 below). The stem will be followed by three or four options - one will be correct (the answer) and three may seem possible but are in fact incorrect in some way (the distractors).

In tackling this type of question it is very important to read the stem carefully. Candidates often make careless mistakes when they misread the stem and so choose the wrong option.

Sample task
Choose the best answer A, B, C or D.

1. Participants on the field trip will be:

A. Vietnamese teachers
B. students of English
C. Australian teachers
D. trainee teachers

2. How long will the field trip run for?

A. one week
B. three weeks
C. one month
D. one semester

3. The Foreign Language Centre runs classes:

A. 7 days a week
B. 6 days a week
C. 5 days a week
D. 3 days a week

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Sample question four: form completion


Task description
You will be provided with an incomplete form which covers information from the listening text. Your task is to complete the gaps in three words or fewer.

The information in the form will be presented in the same order as the information you hear. In other words, you will hear the answer to question one before the answer to question two. So it is very important that you use the time given to look at the question booklet to try and work out the order that you will hear the required information. In the case below, the questions are ordered vertically through the days of the week not horizontally. So you can expect to hear information about Monday first, then Tuesday etc. rather than mornings first then afternoons, evenings etc.

Sample task
Complete the form. Write no more than three words for each answer.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Morning 7-9 Observe group A ......... Teach group A ......... Teach group A
Morning 9-11 ......... Teach group B Observe group A ......... Observe group A
Afternoon Prepare lessons ......... ......... Prepare lessons Prepare lessons
Evening welcoming dinner dinner floating restaurant Dinner with students No plans travel by ......... to Vung Tau

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Sample question five: sentence completion


Task description
You will be provided with a number of incomplete statements which you need to complete using information from the listening text. Generally you must complete the statement in three words or fewer, but confirm this with the instructions.

The questions will be presented in the same order as the answers in the listening text. In other words, you will hear the answer to question one before the answer to question two.

Sample task
Complete the notes using no more than three words.

1) In the mornings the student teachers will ..........

2) Student teachers could be teaching large classes with up to ..........

3) Discussion groups are quite difficult to arrange in Vietnamese classes but not ..........

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Sample question six: short answer questions


Task description
You will be provided with a number of questions which you have to answer. Generally your answers must be in three words or fewer, but confirm this with the instructions.

Sample task
Answer the questions using no more than three words.

1) How many campuses does the Centre for Foreign Languages have?

2) How many hours does each lesson run for?

3) What will Cathy Jones talk about?

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