How To Overcome The Difficulties In The IELTS Listening Exam

IELTS exam requires skill to attempt each module. For nailing the exam, thorough IELTS preparation is required and to prepare well you can take IELTS practice tests. Since IELTS comprises four modules: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking, each module requires proper preparation and requires different handling. The listening section requires a lot of focus as you have to listen as well as retain the information stated in the audio being played. But many times you may come across some obstacles or difficulties in the listening exam and in order to overcome those obstacles you need to first prepare yourself well for the exam.

What are the difficulties faced in the IELTS listening exam?

The most common difficulty in the IELTS listening exam is that there is no repetition of the audio. The audio piece will be played just once and will not be paused or replayed. Once you have missed something, it is gone, then you just have to take a guess and answer.

The second difficulty is the if you make any spelling mistakes while answering the question then the answer will be marked as incorrect because the IELTS format is very specific where the hyphenated words are considered as one word and also the compound words are treated as one word. If not written correctly, you may lose the marks.

The third difficulty you may come across is, if your headphone develops some technical problem or a glitch, you land up in a soup because while the audio is playing you will not be able to pause it, it will be played continually till the end and if you get up to get help from the invigilator, the portion which is missed is gone.

Another thing that can possibly get your score down is when you skip the written instructions. If you miss reading the instructions, you may lose substantially on your score. The instructions are descriptive and tell you what is expected from your answers i.e instructions clearly state that you have to answer in one word or two words or not more than three words, etc.

What can be done to avoid difficulties in IELTS Listening ?

Active Listening: Develop a habit of active listening that implies that when the audio is played you should be able to concentrate well on the words being stated and also you should be able to retain the important facts and information. That means all your faculties should be in synchronization i.e your ears to listen and comprehend what is being said and brain to gather the facts and memorize them. On the whole, if you are able to paraphrase the content you hear over the audiotape, it means you have understood the meaning of the audio played. For paraphrasing, it is always helpful if you practice by listening to various audios at leisure and then write the summary so that you are able to understand it. You can develop the paraphrasing skill by going through IELTS writing practice tests, you will be able to develop the skill that you can utilize in Active listening practice. Also, try to identify the keywords or important transition words or synonyms or markers, besides that remember the question sequence and look for the answers in the same order in the audio although the answers may be expressed differently. Keep writing the answers on the question paper as you will get time to transfer your answers at the end of the exam.

Micro – Listening: It is a technique to identify the words that merge into one another like the phrase “Let’s Go” may sound like “Sko” so if you are attentive enough, you may be able to identify that but if you are not familiar with slang or shortcuts, you may not be able to identify the exact word. Eg. there is a singing group called “Fifty cents” when an American pronounce it, it sounds like “Fifty Cent”, so if you haven’t practiced well, you may write Fifty Cent as an answer whereas the correct spelling for the same is FiftyCent, hence you get no marks for the incorrect answer. It’s very essential to note the small merging words or sounds or contracted words, the more you practice the better you will perform in the exam. Usually, the two words that merge, one word has a weak ending sound and the other word has a strong beginning sound and that’s how they sound one.

Headphone testing: Before you start your exam, make sure to test your headset properly, check for any shrillness of the voice, if both sides of the headphones are working, is there any disturbance in the sound, etc. Make sure the voice you hear over the headphones should be crystal clear and if in case you come across any issue, you must immediately talk to the invigilator. The invigilator will check and replace or fix the issue you face with the headphone. In between the exam, if you come across any problem, you must not hesitate to verbalize it and convey to the invigilator, although you may miss the audio piece, at least you will be able to listen to the next portion clearly once your headphone issue is fixed. Just in case you get stuck on a question due to poor audio quality, just move on to the next one and avoid wasting your time. You can later write a probable answer to the question whose answer you are not sure of.

Instructions reading: Instructions are the most important part of the IELTS exam. Each module of the IELTS exam comes with certain set of instructions that outrightly state what is expected from you in a particular module or section of the exam. It is best to read it beforehand and follow the instructions religiously and stick to the guidelines. There may be many things in the audio that will be irrelevant but you have to keep your focus on getting the right information. Also, do go through the questions before listening to the audio so that you know what you are looking for. 

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