The IELTS listening exercises in this lesson will teach you some important skills to help you stack up those marks in the Listening test.
They go alongside the 4 key skills I cover in the related lesson: IELTS Listening Skills.
There are 6 types of vocabulary that can cause particular problems for students. You must be able to recognise them in speech and to write them correctly in your answers. They are:
Expect them to come up in your test. Some of them certainly will.
Time is particularly tricky as there are so many different ways to say and write it.
Here are some examples.
First, listen to the audio without looking at the transcript below it. You’ll hear six sentences spoken. They are typical of dialogue from a conversation in Section 1 of the test.
Do you understand the times given? Try writing them down.
Play the recording several times if you need to. You won’t be able to do this is the real test but repeat listening is essential for learning and practicing.
When you’ve done this exercise, read the sentences. Were you correct?
1. The express train leaves at 9.30 a.m.
2. The best option would be to take the 7 0 6 bus. (Written 7.06)
3. There are two buses that will get you there, one just before 9 o’clock and one just after.
4. The 8.55 is probably the best one to take.
5. Yes, I think I’ll catch the 5 to 9 bus. (Written 8.55)
6. There is also a train departing at a quarter to nine. (Written 8.45)
This short exercise illustrates just how many different ways there are to express time, both spoken and written. You need to be familiar with them all.
Numbers can come up in many different contexts so make sure that know how they sound and how to write them. It can be difficult to understand some numbers in certain accents so listen to them in a range of accents as you practice your listening skills.
Teens & tens
In all accents, teens and tens numbers sound very similar and are easily confused, e.g.
13 à 30 (thirteen à thirty)
14 à 40 (fourteen à forty)
15 à 50 (fifteen à fifty)
16 à 60 (sixteen à sixty)
17 à 70 (seventeen à seventy)
18 à 80 (eighteen à eighty)
19 à 90 (nineteen à ninety)
Listen to these sentences. What numbers do you hear? Write them down. You’ll find the answers below the audio.
Also, be sure that you recognise numbers in the 100’s when they’re spoken, and know how to write them. Here’s some practice for you.
Listen to the sentences and write down the numbers you hear. Then check them with the answers below.
Next, we come to number in the 1,000’s. These are less common in the listening test but come up occasionally.
Practice writing them down and speaking them out loud to get familiar with how they sound. It can be helpful to write the numbers in both figures and words. For example,
1) 8415 à eight thousand four hundred and fifteen.
2) 2731 à two thousand seven hundred and thirty-one
3) 7010 à seven thousand and ten
4) 6911 à six thousand nine hundred and eleven
Play the audio to hear them spoken.
Very large numbers
Very large numbers will most likely be used in a context where they are rounded up or down to the nearest tens or hundreds of thousands. This means that they will have lots of zeros on the end which can make them challenging to write correctly.
Again, you need to be familiar with how they sound and are written. Listen to this sentence and select the correct answer from the list.
Answer: C 33,000
If you found these exercises difficult, you need more practice listening to numbers.
You also need to recognise and be able to write ordinal numbers, for example,
1st à first
2nd à second
3rd à third
4th à fourth
5th à fifth
I’ll talk more about ordinal numbers when we come to dates.
Finally, it will be useful to know some common proportions, for example,
0.25 à ¼ à a quarter
0.50 à ½ à a half
0.75 à ¾ à three quarters
Another common way that numbers are used in the IELTS Listening test is as prices.
Recordings often include discussion of the cost or price of things, especially in Section 1 which is a conversation between two people. Generally, one person will be trying to make a booking of some sort, for example, a hotel room, flights or theatre tickets.
You are most likely to hear the price expressed as dollars ($), pounds (£) or euros (€). Learn these symbols and know how to write the amounts.
Listen to these sentences that include prices. Write them down and then check your answers with the list below.
1) £4.35 à Four pounds thirty-five
2) $6.50 / $3.25 à Six dollars fifty / 3 dollars 25 cents
3) €15.75 à Fifteen euros seventy-five
One of the biggest challenges with dates is their spelling. Make sure that you can correctly spell all the days of the week and the months of the year. They always start with a capital letter. If you forget this and use all lower case letters, your answer will be marked wrong.
As there are a maximum of 31 days in any month, you need to recognise and be able to write ordinal numbers up to the 31st (thirty-first).
In speech, you may hear the day or the month spoken first, e.g.
In American English the word ‘the’ is often omitted, e.g.
Also, study how years are said. Here are some examples:
1574 – fifteen seventy-four
1600 – sixteen hundred
1701 – seventeen hundred and one or seventeen ‘oh’ /əʊ/ one
2000 – two thousand
2013 – two thousand and thirteen
2020 – twenty twenty
The correct date format for IELTS Listening
When it comes to writing dates in your answers, follow this advice from one of the official IELTS websites.
Tip 1: Be careful to note word limits. If there is an instruction in the question: “Write no more than two words,” writing more than two words will mean you will receive no marks at all for your answer, even if some of the words are correct.
When you are writing dates as an answer to any question, remember that there are several correct ways to write them (e.g. 24th April, April 24 and 24 April are all correct).
Tip 2: When writing the date in the IELTS Listening test you can write dates as numbers such as 19/02 or 02/19 (for 19 February). This eliminates spelling mistakes and complies with questions that only allow 1-word answers.
Based on this information, try writing the dates you hear in these sentences. The answers below give some but not all of the possible answer formats.
1) 18th June 1815 or June 18 1815 or 18/6/1815
2) 17th December 2019 or December 17 2019 or 17/12/19
3) 21st July or July 21 or 21/7
You don’t always need to include the year, especially when referring to the current year.
Something else to be aware of is how decades are often expressed, for example,
Finally, learn these common synonyms:
weekly – once a week
daily – every day
fortnight – a period of two weeks
weekend – Saturday and Sunday
Sometimes an answer will be a name such as a place name or a person’s surname which will be spelt out in the recording. Hence, you must be able to recognise the different letter sounds. Pay particular attention to letters that sound similar when spoken, for example,
For practice, listen to this audio and see if you can write down the names spelt out. Then check the answers below.
Remember that names of people and places always start with a capital letter. If you don’t use one, your answer will be marked wrong even if you have spelt it correctly.
In form completion questions, you will probably have to write the details of an address. The form will look something like this.
To do this successfully, you need to be familiar with address formats.
Usually, the address will be in either a UK format or an Australian format. You might also get a US address which is similar to an Australian one.
Here are examples of all three:
5 Springfield Road
834 Benambra Street
Hinnomunjie Victoria 3898
217 Berwick Avenue
Boston, MA 02130
Make sure that you can spell common words such as ‘road’, ‘street’ and ‘avenue’.
Also, note that postcodes are made up of letters and number and that the letters are always written in capitals. They will be spelt out in the recording if required for an answer, so listen carefully.
I hope you've found these IELTS listening exercises helpful. Listen out for these types of vocabulary during your listening practice to become more familiar with them.
Want to watch & listen to this lesson with IELTS Listening exercises?
Click on this video.
IELTS Listening Test – Understand the format & question types. Know what skills are assessed. Also, discover 3 important marking tips.
Listening Strategies – Learn 3 essential listening strategies – question analysis, answer prediction & how to use keyword clues.
Listening Skills – Learn the 4 key listening skills needed for a high score highly. Examples from real questions.
Listening Exercises – 8 listening exercises to help you recognise & learn vocabulary for 6 common topics – time, numbers, prices, dates, letter names & addresses.
The 10 Question Types – Examples of all 10 types of Listening questions. Learn how to recognise & understand them. Links to 10 step-by-step lessons.
Listening Tips – Top 10 tips to bring you success in your Listening test. Essential information you need to know to achieve a high score.
How to Improve Your Listening Skills – 6 simple strategies essential for achieving a high score in the test.
Listening Practice – 4 practice techniques to develop your listening skills
Map & Plan Vocabulary – Learn the vocabulary you need for your test. 5 maps & plans with sample sentences containing common vocabulary of location & direction.
Listening Practice Samples – Short activities to improve your listening skills & help you learn topic vocabulary.
Genuine Full Practice Tests:
Click the links below to learn how to answer each type of question.