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What is IELTS Listening

Listening is one of the IELTS examination modules that the IELTS exam starts with this. As we mentioned in our previous posts on IELTS exam involves four modules as Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking. IELTS examination starts with the Listening module with playing audio files related to questions. The listening module of the IELTS involves 4 parts which every part appraises your listening skill from a specific and different view. This module has 40 questions in 4 parts. he Listening test is the same for both the IELTS Academic test and the IELTS General Training test. You will need to answer 40 questions in response to four recordings.  You will listen to four recordings which are a mix of monologues and conversations from a range of native speakers and you will only hear each recording once. There are 10 questions for each part of the Listening test.

Must-know words in the Listening part

Building your vocabulary resource helps in understanding IELTS Listening recordings and ensuring you can write and spell key vocabulary. Improve your performance by expanding your vocabulary range and learning important spellings for the IELTS Listening test. Increasing your vocabulary range is important if you want to become a more proficient language learner. Understanding words and knowing how to use them and write them correctly is important and will help you perform better in the IELTS Listening test. You are being tested on understanding what you hear, however, if your answer is spelled incorrectly, your ‘correct’ answer will be marked as incorrect. Each part of the Listening test presents different vocabulary groups, starting with the most frequently used vocabulary in Part 1, to vocabulary that is specific to a range of topics in Part 4. We will look at the most commonly used words in all four parts of the IELTS Listening test along with tips and advice on how to spell English words correctly.


Basic vocabulary that you would have studied when first learning English is included in Part 1 of the Listening test. You will hear a conversation between two people set in an everyday social setting. The vocabulary used will be familiar with word-groups relating to everyday life, dates, times, places, activities, work, and leisure. Even though these words are used commonly, they are often spelled incorrectly so valuable marks are lost in the easiest part of the Listening test.

  • Days of the week: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (Wednesday is commonly misspelled)
  • Months of the year: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December (The first ‘r’ in February is often forgotten)
  • Shapes: circle, square, rectangle, triangle, cylinder
  • Transportation: automobile, truck, tractor, subway, aircraft, train
  • Colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, black, brown
  • Verbs: suggest, develop, borrow, persuade, discuss, review, concentrate, believe, crash
  • Adjectives: beautiful, necessary, fantastic, comfortable, convenient, wonderful, terrible, temporary, permanent, knowledgeable, various
  • Numbers, times, and currencies also commonly appear in section 1 of the listening test


In Part 2 of the IELTS listening test, you will hear a monologue that is set in an everyday context. You might hear a speech about local facilities, describing the layout of a recreation center, or you will hear a description of rooms in a particular building. There are a variety of question types in this part of the test and some questions may involve maps so there is vocabulary that may be helpful to know. If you see a map or diagram, the first piece of advice is to write L and R on either side of your booklet, to make sure you don’t confuse your right with your left! It would also be useful to draw a compass with the points North, South, East, and West if this has not been already done for you. Remember when you are under test conditions, you will be nervous and may confuse left with right, meaning you cannot follow the description.

  • Rooms in buildings: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, dining room, den, library, gymnasium, cafeteria, classroom, waiting room
  • Place markers: street, road, avenue, lane, drive, court (There is a range of vocabulary you should be listening to, but may not have to write down when doing a map question in section 2. They will only allow you to follow the map more easily).
  • Directions: north, south, east, west, up, down, right, left, straight, across from, between, beside, diagonal, corner


In Part 3 of the IELTS Listening test, you will hear a conversation between up to four people. This conversation will generally be set in an educational or training context, for example, a university lecturer discussing an assignment with two students. Being familiar with academic-related vocabulary connected to learning, study and assessment may be helpful for this part of the test.

  • School terms: presentation, project, teamwork, pairs, organization, outline, proofreading, experiment, reference, lecture, assessment, tutor, attendance, specialist, knowledge, faculty, schedule, management, leadership, questionnaire, statistics, percentage, laboratory
  • Subjects in school:  Mathematics, Science, English, Physical Education, Art, Music
  • Subjects in university: Commerce, Biology, Psychology, Engineering, Marketing, Sociology, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Architecture, Law, Philosophy, Economics
  • British and American pronunciation might vary for a number of these words.


Even though Part 4 is the most difficult part of the IELTS Listening test, the vocabulary used is still words that are common knowledge. Part 4 is also based on academics, so there could be a range of different topics spoken about. Look through the range of topic areas below and some vocabulary that is frequently used.

  • Health: vegetarian, leisure, disease, vitamin, protein, carbohydrates, exercise, treatment
  • Animals and their habitat: mammals, reptile, primates, predators, prey, mountain, jungle, forest, island, pond, river, stream
  • Continents and Countries: North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, Antarctica, Australia, Oceania, England, Canada, China, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Switzerland
  • Environment: global warming, disaster, earthquake, tornado, blizzard, hurricane, pollution, temperature, drought
  • Government: politics, senator, mayor, laws, regulations, senate, president, society
  • General words:  appointment, cooperation, employment, government, exhibition, occupation, aluminum, century, decade, millennium, individual, creativity, guarantee, satellite, opportunity, license, frequently, calendar, different
  • The words ‘government’, ‘exhibition’, and ‘guarantee’ are among the most commonly misspelled words in the IELTS test.