When preparing for the IELTS Listening section of the test, it’s important to prepare with effective strategies and plenty of practice. By mastering the basic IELTS Listening techniques and regularly engaging in targeted exercises, you can significantly improve your performance and score higher in the exam. In this blog post, let’s go through 5 practical tips to help you excel in IELTS Listening, including recommended practice tests, exercises, and listening online tests.

1. Master the Basics of IELTS Listening

Before diving into advanced listening exercises, everyone should first learn the basics of IELTS Listening — What’s in the Listening section? How long is the IELTS Listening section? What kind of question types will I see in my IELTS exam? 

During your IELTS Listening exam, you’ll be presented with 4 different audios, each with a set of 10 questions. These sets are called Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, which many test-takers commonly refer to as “IELTS Listening 1, IELTS Listening 2” and so on and so forth.

The official IELTS website has a straightforward layout organized by each section and type of the IELTS, so I highly recommend that you take a look through each one to get a feel for what you should expect to encounter on your test day. Here’s the breakdown on each part of the IELTS Listening section by topic:

General social situation

Part 1: Conversation between two people

Part 2: A monologue (ex: a speech)

Academic or training situation

Part 3: Conversation between two to four people

Part 4: A monologue about an academic subject

Once you familiarize yourself with the four different parts, there are seven different question types you should know: 

  1. Multiple choice
  2. Matching
  3. Plan, map, diagram labelling
  4. Form, note, table, flow-chart
  5. Summary completion
  6. Sentence completion
  7. Short-answer questions

Question types are also called tasks or task types, commonly referred to as Listening task 1, task 2, etc. At TestGlider, we provide practice questions for each IELTS Listening question type in our Study page. Make sure to read the instructions, as there are slight differences for each question type, and learn how to approach each question type effectively. You’ll have 30 minutes to complete all 40 questions. I recommend developing a strong habit of recognizing the question types that you struggle with the most, so you can allocate your time and resources accordingly during the test.

With a TG Pro membership, TestGlider will recommend you question types to study based on other test-takers with similar scores as yours. Stay ahead of the common mistakes and practice with as many different topics as you can!

2. Use IELTS Listening Practice Tests for 2023

The best way to familiarize yourself with the test format is by trying a realistic IELTS online mock test.

To refine your listening skills and simulate the exam environment, make use of IELTS Listening practice tests. These tests are specifically designed to mimic the real test conditions and provide you with the opportunity to practice with authentic exam questions. By regularly engaging in these tests, you can get used to the audio content, identify key information, and manage your time effectively.

To make sure you’re studying with materials that will actually help you by your exam date, it’s important to access practice tests specific to the year you are preparing for. Practicing with recent materials helps you stay up to date with the current exam trends, question types, and difficulty levels. While there are many IELTS practice tests online for free, many of them are in PDF formats and do not provide grading. Here are the top 3 IELTS online tests that provide graded feedback in 2023:

1. Magoosh

    1. 10 IELTS mock tests
    2. 120 video lessons
    3. 850 test-like practice questions with explanation videos
    4. 1 graded speaking assessment
    5. 1 graded writing assessment
    6. $109 for 1 month, $129 for 6 months

2. BestMyTest

    1. 1000+ IELTS practice questions
    2. 2500+ commonly used IELTS vocabulary words
    3. 100 IELTS lessons organized into a study guide
    4. 20 full-length 3 hour test simulations
    5. 2 IELTS writing reviews
    6. 3 IELTS speaking reviews
    7. 5 essay grammar corrections
    8. $69 for 1 month access, $199 for 6 months’ access

3. TestGlider

    1. 8 AI-graded IELTS mock tests
    2. 800+ lectures and practice questions for every question type
    3. Unlimited 2-minute grading and feedback for Full Tests and Listening and Academic Reading practice questions
    4. Vocabulary and exercises
    5. $44.99 for 6 months with study resources, $29.99 for 6 months with only graded mock tests

3. Review IELTS Listening Answers

Reviewing test answers is an integral part of the learning process. Once you complete a mock test, revisit the Listening section and thoroughly analyze the answer explanations. There’s a full, graded IELTS mock test you can take for free here at TestGlider. You can access all the IELTS answer explanations* by clicking the “Review” button on the score log. Pay attention to the correct answers, understand why they are correct, and identify any patterns or strategies you’ve used for those question types. Reviewing your answers will help you identify patterns in the question structure and provide valuable guidance as you increase your band score level.

*All TestGlider for IELTS Listening answers can be found in Full Test/Section Test Scores page. 

4. Understanding your IELTS Listening Score

In the IELTS Listening test, you can achieve a score ranging from band 1 (non-user) to band 9 (expert user). Since incorrect answers aren’t given any penalties, we highly recommend attempting to answer all the questions. By understanding how your IELTS Listening score is determined and the criteria used by examiners, you can focus on the specific areas that need improvement, ultimately increasing your chances of scoring higher in the test. According to the official IELTS scoring explanation

“Each correct answer is awarded one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.”

This means depending on the IELTS section, you may be bumped into a lower or higher category of half scores (ex: 6 to 6.5) depending on the amount of questions you get right. For the IELTS Listening score, getting 16 questions correct will yield to a section band score of 5.

Make sure to take a comprehensive look at all your IELTS section scores and adjust your strategy for the total IELTS band score that you need!

5. Incorporate Daily IELTS Listening Exercises

In addition to practice tests, incorporating IELTS Listening exercises into your study routine can be immensely beneficial. These exercises focus on specific skills, such as applying transitional phrases, avoiding common vocabulary mistakes, and recognizing context clues. If you’re looking for easy-to-access online IELTS exercises, check out the Exercises PDF in the TestGlider study page. It’s 68 pages of daily practice you can take with you on the go when practicing with IELTS Listening audio isn’t ideal. By incorporating these exercises into your practice sessions, you can target your weak points and develop a well-rounded skill set. 


Scoring higher in the IELTS Listening test requires consistent practice, an understanding of question types, and the ability to effectively manage your time. By mastering the basics, practicing with up-to-date mock tests, reviewing previous answers, and reviewing answer explanations, you can enhance your listening skills and boost your chances of achieving a higher band score. Remember to allocate sufficient time for practice and maintain a positive mindset throughout your preparation. With dedication and perseverance, you’ll be able to improve your IELTS Listening band score!