December 10, 2018

IELTS Listening: Tips and Tricks for Success

This is the first of a four-part series focused on each of the sections of the IELTS examination. Each week from now, we will provide valuable advice to help you ace the IELTS!This week we'll provide tips for success in the IELTS listening section, but first a bit of background on IELTS to kick off our series.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. It uses a nine-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) through to expert (band score 9).Internationally trained nurses and medical technologists must have an overall score of 6.5 (7 on speaking) on the IELTS Academic exam to meet U.S VisaScreen standards. (Okay, a couple of much more complicated English language exam options also exist to obtain a VisaScreen as outlined here, but they are obscure and certainly not the recommended routes.)Obtaining a VisaScreen is an essential step in being issued a U.S. EB-3 visa; hence, the necessity for passing IELTS.

Listening Section Overview

The IELTS listening portion lasts 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes of answer transfer time. The listening section covers four separate recordings you'll hear. Below are the four sections described on

  • First Section is a conversation between two people set in an everyday context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency)
  • Second Section is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local families)
  • Third Section is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and student discussing an assignment)
  • Fourth Section is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture)

Tips for IELTS Listening Success

Everyone knows practice makes perfect, but if you practice specifically, you'll be more prepared to perform well. Here are some useful tricks to help you maximize your study potential and ace IELTS listening:

  • Read the question before you listen. Reading the question first will let you know what you're listening for. FOCUS on the specific question asked!
  • Tell an administrator if you cannot hear the audio clearly.
  • Don't wait until the end to write. It's a lot to remember, especially under stress and a time limit.
  • Practice shorthand. You have just 10 minutes of transfer time to copy answers onto an answer sheet. Learn to record enough for you to simply recognize what you heard and move on. Simple notes can come in handy when it's time to transfer answers.
  • Be patient when answering. That may sound ridiculous considering the time limit, but too many candidates answer the wrong question because they don't hear the entire section out!
  • Leave nothing blank. For starters, your guess could be right and there are no penalties for wrong answers. But secondly, leaving blanks can mess with your positioning. You don't want to start writing the right answers in the wrong spaces.
  • Practice names and numbers. In section one, you may have to record specific names and numbers, so spelling is huge here. We've experienced many candidates who struggle with certain lettering, particularly "J," "A," or "I." You can remember these letters better by creating word associations you think of whenever you see the letter.

Free IELTS Practice Resources

Click the link for an IELTS listening practice test courtesy of the British Council.And of course, PassportUSA still has one of the better IELTS prep programs in existence. Ask your PassportUSA International Recruiter about our Road to IELTS program.Scoring an overall score of 6.5 on the IELTS Academic exam is not easy, but with proper planning, you can mitigate the stress and feel confident and ready. Additionally, test takers seeking a US visa should feel fortunate as the overall score required in the UK is being raised to 7.0.Keep the above advice in mind, use the resources at your disposal and master IELTS listening.*If you already passed NCLEX and signed our contract, we can assist you with IELTS. Please contact your most current assigned PassportUSA representative for more details.

If you are interested in joining us, simply click the link below to register.

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