The point of the IELTS Listening test is to determine a candidate’s readiness to deal with real situations and occasions which require good, accurate, understanding of English.
The IELTS Listening Test simulates the broadest range of situations that a foreign person or student doing advanced study or work abroad might encounter the test is in four sections. All of which represent typical spoken English situations. They are:
A social situation. Commonly a conversation between people about an everyday matter, for example: travel events, planning to spend time together, making personal introductions, going to a restaurant. This section assesses the ability to hear key words, uderstand descriptions of locations and spoken directions to reach the places being discussed. It also includes how to recognize and identify other people from physical descriptions, and comprehend ordinary language – as spoken by a range of people. Particular challenges include hearing English spoken in a variety of accents, often spoken quickly, and with instances where the speakers may be changing their minds or using slang.
A single speaker in a nonacademic situation. Typically a talk by a person about a programme or service. Sometimes this could take the form of an interview in which only one of the speakers provides information. Particular skills tested in this test are the accurate hearing of information about things such as times, places, dates, names, and particular aspects of policy and the ability to complete forms.
Multiple speakers in a nonacademic situation. Typically a building tour or the orientation of new visitors to a particular facility. It might take the form of a simulated radio news report. Skills tested in this test are the ability to hear: information in a variety of accents and acoustical settings, key words, phrases and the meaning of other words heard. The object is for the candidate to comprehend information given from multiple points of view.
A single speaker in an academic situation. Typically a portion of a lecture. The subject matter is not highly technical and requires no prior knowledge. Even so, candidates must demonstrate the ability to hear key word and concepts accurately, to distinguish between true and false statements and facts and opinions, and to recognize reported speech and other qualifiers that change the meaning of some phrases.
The four sections of the IELTS Listening test tend to increase in difficulty as the candidate progresses through them. Careful preparation is recommended as some candidates find the first section hardest, purely because of the extensive use of slang and their difficulty in understanding words in unfamiliar accents.
Luckily for candidates, some of the best IELTS Listening Test preparation is free. Extensive listening to radio and TV news on channels such as BBC, which naturally report news in British and Commonwealth accents. British, American and other English foreign movies and TV shows also give good exposure to English as spoken by native speakers and include slang speech and the use of idioms.