8 Great Tips for Listening

8 Essential Listening Tips to improve your listening skills for PTE Academic, IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training exams.

1. Focus

Rule number 1: Focus on the audio! I know it sounds basic, but it is very easy for our minds to get distracted – by the person next to us, something going on outside, by what we want to eat for dinner. Put in the effort and don’t get distracted.

2 Take notes

Note taking is vital for any listening task! For specific information on how to take excellent notes, check out our blog on note taking, or come to one of English Key’s PTE Academic or IELTS coaching courses.

3. Listen to different accents

On both PTE Academic and IELTS General Training and Academic, you will hear a many different native accents: Australian, English, American, Scottish, New Zealander, Canadian, South African, etc. Understanding different accents can be very hard, as you probably already know. So train yourself! Practice listening to audio from different countries. Click here to listen to short clips of all the accents you might hear on IELTS Academic or General Training. Here are some links to radio and podcasts to get you listening! Australia: 14 Favourite Australian Podcasts England: BBC World Service – Live Radio America: ESL Podcast (Easy – Hard), National Public Radio (Hard) Scotland: BBC Podcasts Scotland New Zealand: Podcasts NZ Canada: CBC Radio South Africa: International Dialects of English Archive

4. If you miss a word, don’t worry!

Some of the audio texts can be very long and sometimes very fast. If you miss a word, or don’t understand, don’t panic. Just keep listening and focus on the rest of the audio – often it will become clearer the more you listen!

5. Listen to different level

Both IELTS (General Training and Academic) and PTE Academic will give you different kinds of audio texts. That is, some every day speaking, some instructional speaking, some more academic speaking. So when you’re practicing, don’t only listen to the easy stuff! Challenge yourself and be prepared to listen to topics you might not know about, for example: biology, art, architecture, music, geology, politics, etc.

6. Listen to different kinds of speaking

  1. There are many different kinds of listening texts you may hear, with different numbers of speakers.

TypeNumber of people speakingMonologueOneConversationTwo or more

In the IELTS General Training or Academic, the listening section is the same. You will hear: 1 – a conversation between two people – everyday situation e.g. phone conversation

2 – a monologue – everyday situation – e.g. a lecture about tourist information

3 – a conversation between 2 to 4 people – educational or training situation – e.g. a teacher and student discussing an assignment

4 – a monologue – an academic topic – e.g. a university lecture In PTE Academic, you can hear both monologues or conversations, although monologues are the most common.

7. Hold your horses!

No, we don’t mean literally hold onto a horse! This idiom means “be patient”. Often, in both IELTS and PTE, the speaker says one thing, but then two seconds later changes the topic, or even contradicts him/herself. That is, says exactly the opposite! For example, a lecture might begin like this: Climate change is a very important issue in today’s world… So you probably think the topic of this lecture will be climate change. But here is the next sentence: Climate change is a very important issue in today’s world. However, today I am going to focus on how this has affected turtles in southern Mexico. If you only listened carefully to the first sentence, you would think the topic is climate change, but this lecture is actually going to talk about turtles!

8. Don’t be fooled!

Often words that may appear on your paper/screen will be heard in the audio. This doesn’t mean that if you hear them they are the correct answer – the examiners are using them to try and trick you! That is, to test if you are really listening. So make sure you listen to the whole sentence and the next before you decide your answer!

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