To help you practice IELTS Listening more effectively, this article will suggest 6 common types of question you are likely to see in the test.

What is IELTS?

IELTS has been very well known as the international standardized exam. The result of the exam is highly trusted and used for many different purposes such as job application, studying abroad, immigration in many English-speaking companies, organizations and countries.

While sitting for the exam, perhaps most of us all care about the result. However, you can totally rest assured that your answer will be marked dedicatedly and strictly by the experts and evaluation board of Cambridge Assessment English. There will be a conversion table named Band Score which is produced for each version of the Listening test. It is used to translate scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale.

IELTS at the moment is very popular thanks to its reliability. Therefore, if you are eager to pass the exam with a remarkable score, there is no doubt about working hard and keep practicing every day.

The IELTS Exam will test your English ability in four skills which are Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Out of four skills, Listening is the one that requires lots of effort and at the same time, is a vital mission to all of the candidates. Therefore, you might wonder what is worth paying attention to in this skill?

Note for IELTS Listening test

The IELTS Listening test consists of 4 sections with 10 questions per section. The questions are designed in the way that all the answers will appear in order as what they are heard in the audio.

The test lasts for 30 minutes, you will listen and answer simultaneously. You are allowed to write or circle your answer and draft in the question booklet. However, remember that your performance is only valid and approved in the answer sheet only. Therefore, the good news is after 30 minutes, you then have 10 more minutes to transfer all of your answers into the answer sheet. So, make the most out of your time.

It is crucial that you make yourself a proper plan, stick to it strictly and try to work hard toward your target. During your 40 minutes of listening you will have to stay really focused, you might want to practice that at home to enhance your concentration.

In addition, for each answer right you will get 1 point. Therefore, a practical advice in case you are running out of time is that rather than keep doing the hard question, make sure you have got all the easy one right. And right here means being exact in spelling, grammar, and word limit as well.

In conclusion, when it comes to studying a skill, it is essential that you know very clearly what to learn before knowing how to learn. It means that one of the tips to get the best result in IELTS Listening is you have to know all the common questions that stay a very high chance to appear in the test. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

What are the 6 common types of questions of IELTS Listening?

In general, there are 6 types of questions in the Listening section:

  •         Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion
  •         Plan, map, diagram labeling
  •         Matching
  •         Multiple choices
  •         Sentence completion
  •         Short answer question

Each type of question has different requirements and notes, therefore, you need to brush up on all 6 types, avoid focusing on 1 type only. If you do that then you are having a very risky decision. As a matter of fact, all types of question are sharing the same chance of showing up in the test. An IELTS Listening test is divided into 4 sections, and the level of difficulty rises after each section.

1. Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion

In this type of question, you will be given a  Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary, and asked to complete it by listening to a conversation between two people (usually about hotel reservation, signing for a course…). Specifically, we have:

  • Form

Summarize  the details in the recording such as name, phone number, and date


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 – Test 1 – Listening – Section 1 – Questions 6-10
  • Note

Summarize the specific and detail information in the recording


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1- Test 1 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 26-31
  • Table

Summarize information related to some categories (for instance place, cost, time…)


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 2 – Test 2 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 21-25
  •  Flow-chart

Summarize a process with particular steps displayed by arrows


Flow chart
Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 8 -Test 4 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 27-30
  • Summary paragraph

You are responsible for filling in the gaps in the given paragraph. Notice that your answer must meet all the requirements about spelling, grammar, and word limit.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 – Test 1 – Listening- Section 2 – Questions 14-21


You will choose the best-fit answer from the available ones or identify the answer yourself. Make sure that you use the word you have heard to fill in, not the words coming out of your mind.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you should always remember to read the instructions very carefully because the number of words or numbers are allowed to utilized will vary. The word limit is given, for instance, “NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER”. Candidates will be penalized if they write more than the stated number of words permitted. Therefore, for each task, you had better notice to check this word limit. Contracted words such as “I’m or I’ll” will not be tested so there is no need to worry about them. Hyphenated words like “high-tech” will be count as a single word.

2. Plan, map, diagram labeling

Plan Labeling

The following type is about completing a plan (e.g. of a factory), a map (e.g. of a city area), or a diagram (e.g. a part a device). There will be some answers for you to pick.

First and foremost, let’s learn about Plan Labeling. The content of the listening recordings is usually non-academic. They may give an introduction about an event or about the structure, or the plan of a building (for example a trip to a museum, gallery, school…)


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 4 – Test 1 – Listening – Section 2 – Questions 14-20

Map labeling

The second type is Map Labeling. There will be many places like a hospital, factory, park… and your job is to listen to the recording, look at the given map and label all the gaps in that map.

This type of question aims at testing your ability to listen and imagine the map of a particular place. Therefore, the ability to obtain the spatial language is absolutely essential for you as to complete this task. According to SpingerLink, spatial language is ‘A means of representing objects and locations through verbal description with respect to multiple coordinate systems or frames of reference.’ In other words, spatial language helps us to define where objects are in the space, for example ‘on’, ‘off’, ‘under’, ‘above’, ‘over’, ‘next’, etc.  


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 6 – Test 3 – Listening – Section 2 – Questions 14-17

Diagram Labeling

The third and also the last format in this type of question is Diagram Labeling. It will give you a  diagram which can demonstrate the parts of a machine, or phases of a process. The speaker in the recording will describe the diagram very clearly and logically so that you can understand it easily. As a result, you have to keep track of what you hear, not what you think of from your own knowledge about the mentioned machine or process.


Cambridge Practice Test for IELTS 7 – Test 3 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 23-25

3. Matching

The next common type of question is Matching. Candidates are given a list of items from the audio and are requested to match it with a set of options on the question paper. The set of options might be criteria of some kind. The questions will be sorted following the listening text order in the record. The information part will be a list of answers to match, they are in a random position, not following any specific order.


Cambridge Practice Test for IELTS 4 – Test 1 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 23-27

4. Multiple choices

This tends to be one of the most common types in IELTS Listening. Multiple choices question type is divided into two main forms:

The first one is Short Answer Multiple Choice Question. There will be a question and some answers for you to choose from. Take a look at the example below:

multiple choice
Cambridge Practice Test for IELTS 4 – Test 2 – Listening – Section 1 – Questions 1-3

The second type of IELTS Listening is Sentence Completion – Multiple Choice Question. The beginning of the sentence is followed by a list of three possible answers to complete the sentence. You will then pick one of them as your answer. This example will give you a hint.

multiple choice
Cambridge Practice Test for IELTS 4 – Test 1 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 21-22

In some cases, you will have to choose more than one answer. There might be 5 answers (A, B, C, D, E) and you choose 2 out of 5, or 7 answers (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and you choose 4 out of 7.

5. Sentence completion

What do you need to know about Sentence Completion? You have to read a list of sentences that summarise the main idea of the whole listening text or just a section of it. Then by listening to the recording, you will then fill in the gaps. The word limit will be brought up as “NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER”.

sentence completion
Cambridge Practice Test for IELTS 4 – Test 1 – Listening – Section 3 – Questions 21-22

Just as mentioned before, you definitely should check the word limit very carefully.

One of the skills you need for this type of question is the ability to identify the main idea of the listening text. As to do that, it is essential that you grasp the content through the relationship among the sentences and sections in the recording, for instance, a cause-effect relationship.

6. Short answer question

The last type is the Short Answer Question. You will answer the questions by using the information you hear in the recording. The word limit will be given like “NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER”. Always remember to read the instructions carefully because you will be penalized for writing more than the given number of words.

short answer question
Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 7 – Test 2 – Listening – Section 2 – Questions 19-20

As to do this type, you had better practice the skill of listening and absorb the specific information such as time, cost and place.

Note: In some cases, in the instruction, you will be asked to answer the questions by giving 2 or 3 main ideas.

How to get a better result in IELTS Listening?

For each type of question, you need to have a particular strategy in order to manage that type. You can practice IELTS Listening in many ways, adopting strategies and tips to deal with different sections and questions or trying to practice doing tests as much as possible is a great idea too.

However, life is busy and not all of us can manage that much amount of time to study. Then, what is the alternative solution? In this case, a piece of advice for you is to make the most of and optimize your time listening to English. Listen whenever and wherever you can, as much as possible to learn English subconsciously.

1. What is learning English subconsciously?

Learning subconsciously is one of the most effective ways to study English. According to Cambridge Dictionary, subconscious is “the part of your mind that notices and remembers information when you are not actively trying to do so, and influences your behavior even though you do not realize it”. Therefore, when you subconsciously learn English, it means that you acquire the language without knowing how you learn it. You listen and read English materials too often that you don’t realize that you start familiarizing yourself with English. As a result, you might use English words, phrases, and structures correctly without knowing their meanings in your mother tongue.

2. How to learn English subconsciously?

You can listen anytime, anywhere by using your own smartphone, so convenient and easy to manipulate. You can totally take advantage of dead time while you are waiting for the bus, breaks between lessons, before going to bed or weekend free time to listen to English. This will contribute to helping your brain to get used to English and to accept the action of listening to this language every day as an indispensable habit. Gradually, you will no longer feel hesitant to listen because you are now practicing English in a very natural way.

So, what should you listen to? Of course, it should be reliable sources with the standard voice from native speakers if you are new and inexperienced. There are tons of sources for you to visit, such as the audios and videos on BBC, VOA, YouTube or US/UK songs. However, in case you might be in trouble with new words that you happen to encounter while listening, then eJOY EPIC will be the perfect solution for you.

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The app offers a variety of English courses for practical purposes and a library with more than 60,000 videos with different topics conveniently categorized into suitable levels (from 1-beginner to 7-high advanced). What is even more special is that you can totally look a word up in the dictionary and save it for playing games when you want to relax and memorize the new words better at the same time.

Another advantage of eJOY Epic is that the app enables you to save all the videos and lessons so you can still learn and watch them even when you are offline. So, what are you waiting for? Download the app for free, and start your English journey right now.

Learn English with eJOY Epic now

Have you started to practice IELTS Listening yet? Share with us and everyone else about how you have been practicing in the comment below.

Go to this post for more articles about a method of studying English.