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IELTS Listening tips: How to listen and read at the same time

Two quick tips to help you listen and read at the same time in the IELTS Listening test

If you find it difficult to read and follow the questions while listening to the recording in the IELTS Listening test, then here are two IELTS Listening tips just for you.

IELTS Listening tip 1: Underline or circle words on the question paper that indicate what information you’re listening for

Before you listen, if you circle or underline words in the questions that tell you what you’re listening for, you won’t need to read the whole of each question again when you listen to the recording. (Remember that you’ll be given some time to read the questions before each of the sections in the IELTS Listening test.)

To see what I mean, have a look at the following page from an official IELTS Listening test, and think about why I circled or underlined the words ‘grade‘, ‘cancelled‘ and ‘advise against‘.

IELTS Listening tip 1

I underlined ‘grade‘ so that I remembered to listen for a grade such as ‘A‘ or ‘B‘ without having to read the whole question again.

I underlined ‘cancelled‘ and wrote ‘what?‘ so that I remembered to listen for something that has been cancelled.

I circled ‘advise against‘ to remind myself to listen for a book that Dina doesn’t recommend.

IELTS Listening tip 2: Cross out questions that you know you’ve missed

While listening, if you know you’ve missed a question, put a line through the question to help you keep track of where the recording is up to without having to read the questions again.

To show you what I mean, here’s what I would have done on the question paper above if I knew I had missed question 21.

IELTS Listening tip 2

Next time you practise an IELTS Listening test, try these two IELTS Listening tips and let me know if they helped you listen and read at the same time.


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