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.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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2 Responses to IELTS Listening Format Changes in 2020

  1. Sabs January 27, 2020 at 10:16 am #

    hi, i am approaching you with a weird problem really! while most people are scared of speaking component of the tests, i am perhaps the rarest of rares who s frightened outta skin of listening test. No, before u might think of my vocabulary or any other deficiencies i might have, please note- i received 7.5 in speaking and 8 in reading, writing of IELTS. See? as for the listening, it was a disaster of the worst kind!! I have problems with accents other than North American-this is the core but the speakers in the test are indeed too fast for an academic setting, i am not aware of any teacher who lectures or converse without so much as a comma or fullstop. Besides, in the mock tests and in the past tests(my friend told me) they always spell the proper nouns whereas in the actual test i took this month, they never did! now tell me how can a person sitting in india or mozambique for that matter understand the surnames or road names of London unless very popular or simple? for instance if i ask u to write Chhatrapati shahuji street or Devanga Mahaputtam, will u be able to do it unless it is spelt out?
    Well, thats my grouse and a big problem, unable to get required band in listening, what to do?…thanks for reading it


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 18, 2020 at 8:38 am #

      Hi Sabs,

      The listening section of our blog has a lot of tips, practice sources and other material to help you improve your listening skills. You may be particularly interested in this article: IELTS Listening Accents — What to Expect. There you’ll find suggestions for where to practice listening to accents other than North American.

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