IELTS Listening Format Changes in 2020

IELTS Listening Test with Blue Headphones - Image by Magoosh


Starting on January 4, 2020, the IELTS Listening will have a slightly new format. Here, we summarize them and tell you what you need to know as you prepare to take the IELTS in 2020 and beyond 🙂


Changes to the IELTS Listening Format

Here is the official announcement from IELTS:

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“From 4 January 2020, some small changes are being introduced to the instructions and layout of the paper-based Listening test:

  1. We will be changing the word ‘Sections’ to ‘Parts’ – The paper-based test will now be divided into Part 1, 2, 3, 4.
  2. We will be removing the Part 1 example.
  3. We are also removing the page number references.”
For more details on these changes, visit the IELTS website.

How will the 2020 IELTS changes affect students?

What do these changes mean for test-takers? Let’s break down the IELTS Listening format changes one by one:

  • “We will be changing the word ‘Sections’ to ‘Parts’ – The paper-based test will now be divided into Part 1, 2, 3, 4.”
    • This is just a very small labeling change that doesn’t affect the test at all.
  • “We will be removing the Part 1 example.”
    • Of all the changes, this one is likely to have the greatest impact on students. Students used to get a sample recording + prompts before they began Part 1 of the test. Now, students need to be ready for Part 1 immediately after hearing the Listening test instructions.
  • “We are also removing the page number references.”
    • This also a very minor change. It affects one line in the instructions when a set of prompts covers more than one page.
    • Old format: Look at questions 1-5 on page 3.
    • New format: Look at questions 1-5.

Summary: What You Need to Know

There are two minor changes to the IELTS Listening that shouldn’t affect your prep. One change you should watch out for is that there is no longer a Part 1 example. You’ll hear the Listening instructions and then jump right into your first question. So, make sure you’re ready to listen carefully 🙂 Happy studying all!

Getting ready for the IELTS? Find out how the test is formatted, best ways to prepare, and many more resources on the Magoosh IELTS blog.

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