IELTS Listening Section 4 Tips and Practice

IELTS listening section 4 is regarded as the most difficult section in the listening test because it requires students to finish two parts of questions after playing the recording only once. In most cases, you need to fill in a form first and then do another five multiple choice questions. It is also likely to include other question types such as sentence completion questions.

The recording is usually an academic talk about a certain subject such as biology and history, which makes this section even more difficult. Let’s take a look at the IELTS listening section 4 tips and practice to help you pass the test!

Tip 1: Allocate Time Wisely

It is an important step to wisely allocate your time in the listening section. At the beginning of the listening section, try your best to read all the questions. If you can finish reading the section four questions before section one begins, read them again after answering section three, especially the long choices in multiple choice questions. Getting familiar with the questions in advance helps you to concentrate on the recording!

Tip 2: Circle Key Words

When you are reading the questions, circle the key words. The key words refer to the most important information in the question. Some key words are easy to identify such as an academic term or a name; others are subtle. You need to listen carefully for the key words in the recording.

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American boys drop out of school at a higher rate than girls because

  1. A) they need to be in control of the way they learn
  2. B) they play video games instead of doing school work
  3. C) they are not as intelligent as girls

The key words in the question is drop out of school and the key words in the choices are control the way they learn, video games, and intelligent. Then, just pay attention to these words or the paraphrased forms while listening.

Tip 3: Predict the answer

Sometimes, you can predict the answer based on the given information, especially in table/form/sentence completion questions. Let’s take the following question from the British Council as an example.

IELTS listening section 4 -magoosh

According the given information, Question 31 should be another way to think about time based on the past. Since the first way is positive, we can predict that Question 31 is also a descriptive adjective. Also, based on the features and consequences, the second way may be the opposite of the positive outlook. Therefore, the answer is very likely to be negative.

Tip 4: Practice

To get prepared for this section, you can do practice tests as well as listen to academic talks from various websites. Here are some recommended resources for you.

Ted Talks 

Online Courses

Science Talks

AP News Minute

Magoosh’s IELTS Listening Practice Test (below):

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4 Responses to IELTS Listening Section 4 Tips and Practice

  1. dinesh February 2, 2018 at 12:49 am #

    in section 4 will they consider plurals and singulasr in sentence completion with one word question…..or will they prefer meaning????

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 2, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi Dinesh,

      If you should have a plural/singular word and you put the wrong one, that counts against you a little, because it is still technically not right. But it is better than putting the completely wrong word instead.

  2. NOUMAN - ABDULLAH February 11, 2018 at 8:37 am #

    While example of listening section 1 is begun ,can i utilize this time in reading and marking section 3 and section 4 ? because its a long time to understand and mark section 4 and 3 of listening.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 11, 2018 at 1:37 pm #

      Hi Nouman,

      I’m not sure if I understand your questions–are you asking if you should start to look at section 3 and 4 of listening while listening to the instructions at the beginning of the test? You may want to try this method with a practice test, but overall I don’t recommend it. There is less than a minute to listen to instructions in the first section, so you might have trouble if you try to multi-task and do many things at once. You also risk missing important information in the first section. Remember: you only hear each recording once, and each question is worth the same amount of points. Even though sections 3 and 4 are more difficult, you don’t get more points if you get them correct. It’s better to focus on each section one at a time so that you can get as many questions correct as possible. I recommend that you continue to practice these skills so that you become more confident in your ability to read, listen and anticipate the answers to the questions 😀

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