IELTS Listening Section One Tips and Practice

IELTS listening section one contains a dialogue between two people in daily settings. When you are listening, you need to fill in the blanks with information in the dialogue. It is not a difficult part of the listening test. Therefore, our goal is to get all answers correct in this section. Here are the section 1 IELTS listening tips for you to get better scores on this section!

IELTS Listening Section One Tips

Read Instructions and Questions Carefully

The first thing you need to do is to read the instructions and questions carefully. Instructions are important because they tell you what to do. Take the following sentence for example:

Write no more than one word and/or a number for each answer.

You need to know that you should write just one word/number for each blank. Always keep it in your mind when writing your answers.

The questions will tell you what kind of information is required. As reading questions while listening will distract you, it is better to read them while the speaker is reading the example question.

Use Your Prior Knowledge

Then you can use your prior knowledge to predict the words. Prior knowledge refers to your own knowledge and life experience. Most situations in IELTS listening section one are familiar to students. Here is a list of common situations and related vocabulary in this section.

  • Accommodation

Payment: cash, check, credit card, money order

House type: house, flat, dorm, homestay, student hostel

Facilities: gym, laundry, furniture, household appliances


  • Library

ID: ID card, passport, driving license/licence, student card

Book type: novel, magazine, newspaper, fiction, non-fiction, journal, reference book

Rules: due date, loan period, fine, renew a book


  • Bank

Types of bank account: saving account, checking account, deposit account, debit card, credit card

Activities: withdraw money, transfer money, deposit money, open/suspend/activate an account

Required information: billing address, phone number, bank statement


  • Booking a flight

Basic information: departing date, returning date, first/business/economy class

Types of ticket: one-way, round-trip, multi-destination, non-stop flight


  • Buying insurance

Types of insurance: home insurance, medical and dental insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, critical illness insurance

Other related words: coverage, third party, monthly/half-yearly/annually payment, insurance terms


Write Down Answers on the Paper First (for paper-based IELTS)

Although the computer-delivered IELTS is becoming more and more common, the majority of IELTS test-takers still take the exam in its “classic” paper-based form. If your IELTS will be paper-based, be prepared to do some old fashioned writing by hand.

When you are listening, write down answers on the test paper first and then transfer them to the answer sheet. Writing down answers on the answer sheet will be a distraction because you have to pay attention to handwriting and spelling. Besides, you will have another 10 minutes to finish your answer sheet at the end of the listening section.

Last but not least, if you’re taking the paper-based IELTS, check out Magoosh’s guide to IELTS handwriting.


Check Spelling and Grammar

Before handing in your answer sheet, do not forget to check spelling and grammar, especially the plural and past forms of nouns and verbs. Although most students understand these rules, they may have careless mistakes in the test.

IELTS Listening Section One Practice

Click the following links to get sample tasks for you to practice!

Sample test 1 from British Council

Sample test 2 from IELTS Essentials

Sample test 3 from

Sample test 4 from Exam Engilsh


By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Kuangyan

    Kuangyan creates IELTS blogs at Magoosh. She is passionate about language education and has a MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. Kuangyan has experience of teaching English both in China and in US. In her free time, she drinks mocha, does yoga, takes photos and travels to different places to explore the exciting world.

23 Responses to IELTS Listening Section One Tips and Practice

  1. Linta Sreekanth April 5, 2018 at 6:40 am #

    Hi, It is really good and useful.

  2. Lisa September 15, 2018 at 3:20 am #

    do examiners check answers from answer sheet or the question paper too? Because in question paper i wrote a few different answers. Which i changed later in my answer sheet but didn’t change in question paper

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 16, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

      Hi Lisa,

      the examiners only consider the answers that you write in your answer booklet, so you don’t need to worry about what you wrote in the question book 🙂

  3. varun October 18, 2018 at 11:47 pm #

    Dear Sir,
    Iam appering first time for ielts
    tell which section to do first or they will decide


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 19, 2018 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Varun,

      I am happy to help! 🙂

      According to the British Council:

      “There are two versions of the test, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both tests are graded in exactly the same way.

      You’ll take the first three parts of the test on the same day, in the following order:

      There are no breaks between these tests.

      Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or 7 days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.”

  4. applek December 20, 2018 at 12:06 am #

    Write no more than one word and/or a number for each answer.

    – one word
    – one number
    – one word and a number

    as long as one doesnt cross these limits.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 21, 2018 at 7:34 am #

      Hi there,

      Yes, that’s correct. In some cases, you may have to write a word and a number (e.g. 3 chickens or 1 million). Be careful that you match your answer with the blank provided so that it makes sense!

  5. Louis January 24, 2019 at 10:43 pm #


    I have a question:
    – Does the word(s) that we have to write is mandatory something that we hear or do we have some time to infer it, for example :

    The recording says “Think about your dress”
    The answer blank is: “You have to think about what you will ______”
    In this case, we should write “wear” even if it hasn’t been said in the recording.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 25, 2019 at 2:02 pm #

      Hi Louis,

      Is this an example that you made up, or did you see is somewhere? The Listening section is designed so that you will write down something that you hear directly in the recording. There could be multiple acceptable answers for a question, but you won’t have to change the word/meaning of the words in order to answer the questions. Check out the examples that we link to in this blog post for a better idea of what the listening section will look like!

  6. St February 12, 2019 at 9:19 am #

    Hie during that 10 minute break for transferring your answers onto the answer sheet , can l go to read the questions on the next section quickly before I’m told so by the examiner

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 12, 2019 at 7:13 pm #

      Hi there!

      You can only look ahead to other Listening questions during the Listening section. 🙂 As soon as the script says, “Read Section 1” or “Now turn to Section 1,” you may look at the questions in any of the four Listening sections. Similarly, you can also read ahead at the end of each section when it says “You now have half a minute to check your answers.” This blog post may have some helpful information for you:

      How to Read IELTS Listening Questions

      At the end of the Listening portion (after all 4 sections), you’ll have 10 minutes to transfer your answers. Because this comes at the end of the Listening section, you won’t really have anything to read ahead. 🙂 It’s important to note that you cannot read ahead to the reading section, or writing section, though!

  7. babar khalid April 3, 2019 at 11:43 am #


    I have a question.

    Dow e have to write the exact words that are narrated in the recording or can we write synonyms too ? For instance, instead of the word “money”, can we use the word “funds” ?

    • David Recine
      David Recine April 9, 2019 at 8:21 am #

      It’s best to use the exact word, or as close to the exact word as you can recall. With paraphrasing, you risk slightly changing the meaning or grammar of the word so that your answer is incorrect.

  8. BABAR KHALID April 3, 2019 at 11:50 am #


    In IELTS Listening, can we use synonyms as an answer or do we have to strictly use the same word ?

    • David Recine
      David Recine April 9, 2019 at 8:19 am #

      You are supposed to use the same word, or as close to the same word as possible. While it is possible to get the answer marked correct with a paraphrase, paraphrases are more likely to result in a wrong answer. When you change the original wording, you can shift the meaning in unintended ways.

  9. Jaspreet August 6, 2019 at 11:11 pm #

    I have one confusion about in listening
    If the instructions written no more than three word and for example in question paper write 3000 and next blank
    Then speaker told 4000 people
    In this situation we should write only 4000 or 4000 people

    • David Recine
      David Recine August 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm #

      Either 4000 or 4000 people would be OK in that case. As long as you keep within the word limit and use the correct words for the meaning of the answer, you don’t need to worry about style or parallel structure between one of the blanks and the rest of the prompt. 🙂

  10. Rahul Goyal September 25, 2019 at 10:55 am #

    I’m taking computer based ielts do I have to write answer of listening section directly or I will get time to type them later

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 2, 2020 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Rahul,

      I recommend that you check out the video tutorial on the computer-based IELTS to better understand what you will encounter on test day:

  11. Pooja Khetwani January 19, 2020 at 5:59 am #


    I have a question. if the instruction says write no more than one word and/ or a number. does it mean that the limit is one or two. That is can we write one word and a number or either one word or a number.

    For example.. answer to the question could be 11 or 11 pm.. Would both answers be considered as correct?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 6, 2020 at 7:25 pm #

      Hi Pooja,

      If the instructions are “Write no more than one word and/or a number”, then both 11 and 11 pm would be acceptable.

      11 is a number, and 11 pm is a word and a number.

  12. Huyen July 29, 2021 at 2:10 am #

    Hi there, first of all I’m impressed that all the replies were answered! Hopefully mine will get your response too. Here goes,
    If the question requires a name and I didn’t capitalize the word, would I still get a score? For example, the question is Book name: ____ and I wrote villagers instead of Villagers.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 30, 2021 at 1:45 pm #

      Hi Huyen!

      In the Reading and Listening sections, there are no rules for capitalization. However, proper capitalization does need to be used in the writing section. You can read more on this topic on this helpful page!

      Hope this helps! 🙂

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