How to improve your listening score 1


Are you struggling with your listening?

Are you getting a consistently low score no matter how many listening tests you do?

Do you think you generally have a good understanding of what the speakers say but when you check your answers you hardly get over 20?

If this sounds like you then you should read further.

There are two main reasons why a student can get a low score in listening (provided that the recording  is of good quality and you have your question paper printed out for convenience when you do your listening test).

One reason is insufficient (do you know this word, by the way?) vocabulary. In other words, if you don’t know many words in English, you will not be able to recognize them when you hear them. You also need to understand the question well to be able to answer it. If there are key words in the question that you don’t know, it is unlikely that you will hear the correct answer.

If this is the case, your strategy will be to expand your vocabulary i.e. learn new words. An EASY option is to use your listening exercises and tests to build up your vocabulary. To do this, you will need to go back to your question paper (test paper) or exercise after you’ve done the listening and learn ALL the words that you didn’t know in the questions AND in the answers. If you do this every time after the test or exercise, you will gradually reach the point when you will know all the words in the listening section and your score will improve. But remember, you need to do it EVERY time, you do the listening test or exercise.  

A THOROUGH option means that in addition to the EASY option, you read up on the topic of the listening to learn more vocabulary. For example, you have a listening section on the topic of robots and technology. After you have done the listening and learned the words from the listening, you should read a few more articles on the same topic to expand your vocabulary even further.

And if you want to go another step further, watch one or two videos on the same topic or listen to another podcast on the same theme. Please remember, however, that first you need to watch the video without subtitles, even, if you desperately want to do so. The second time you watch the same talk, you can turn on the subtitles, if you feel like it will help you.

The second reason why your listening score can be low may have to do with your listening skills rather than vocabulary. This is especially true when your reading score is high but the listening score is disappointing. In this case, it is possible that you have difficulties understanding the British accent. In the IELTS listening test, they use a variety of accents but the British accent is used more often than the others. In this case, you will need to practice listening again and again. Start small and celebrate ALL the tiny achievements when you can understand more and more. But remember – listening improves by listening. If you really want to get your listening up to speed, listen EVERY DAY. Listen to podcasts, listen to radio, listen to audiobooks or BBC news, but do it every day. 

You can also read out Ten Top Tips for listening and How to Improve your Listening score.




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