IELTS Listening Form Filling Question Tips

In the first section of the IELTS listening test there is often a form filling question. Normally the answers will be one or two words long and will be factual information, such as phone numbers, dates and times.

These questions may seem relatively simple, but it would surprise you how many students throw away easy marks in this section.

Also, this is one of the areas that IELTS try to trick you by giving a number of different pieces of information when only one of them is correct. One common trick is for the person to give one piece of information and then correct it later in the recording. If they do this, always write down the second piece of corrected information.

There are a number of ways students can prepare for this kind of question. Below are some tips, common problems and solutions.

Prediction

Prediction is an important skill in all areas of the IELTS listening test but crucially important in the form filling section.

Predicting enables you to not only focus your brain on the area that you will hear, but more importantly, not focus on any other areas.

For example:

Name: Shaun Rodgers
Room no. ___________
Number of occupants: 1
Check out time: ____________

In this example we can accurately predict that we are going to hear a room number and time. That means we can completely focus on those two items, making it much easier for us to get the correct answer.

When predicting we should think about:

Grammar: noun, verb, adjective, adverb etc.. Often it will be obvious which word form we need to use. If we use a different form of the word we will get the question wrong.
Subject: phone number, address, date, business name etc.. This will help us focus on the correct part of the recording and find the correct information more easily.
Function: list, question, label, instruction etc..

In the IELTS listening test you will have between 30-45 seconds before you hear the recording. Use this time wisely by predicting what you are going to hear.

Synonyms

In the IELTS listening test it is normal for you to read one word but hear another word with the same meaning. For example, you may read ‘cost’ but hear ‘price’. This is called a synonym and the IELTS listening test has lots of them.

A common mistake is to read a certain word and listen for that word and not hear it. That is because the recording used a synonym. For example, you might hear someone making a hotel reservation and you have to note down their details.

The form might say ‘Arrival Date’, but you will hear ‘day you arrive’. Similarly, you may read ‘Departure Date’, but you might hear ‘day you leave’.

Make sure you think about the type of information you might hear in the form of synonyms, not just the information you read.

Word Limit

Be careful not to write too many words in this section. You will be given specific instructions and you must not go over this limit. For example, NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS means that you may write one OR two words but no more.

NOT MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER means that if you write more than one word your answer will be incorrect.

Numbers

You should familiarise yourself with how numbers sound in English and remember that the speaker may have an accent from an English speaking country you might not be familiar with, such as Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand or Canada.

The numbers that often come up are:

13 30
14 40
15 50
16 60
17 70
18 80
19 90

These numbers are difficult for many non-native speakers and that is why IELTS like to use them. Practice listening and saying these numbers.

You might also get a credit card number. These number are always 16 digits long, so depending on how many numbers are already provided, you will know how many numbers to write down.

Finally, telephone numbers have two considerations. Firstly, native speakers offer say ‘oh’ instead of ‘zero’ and we may also group numbers together by saying ‘double’ or ‘triple’ in front of it. So 0778880700 would sound like ‘oh, double seven, triple eight, oh, seven, double oh.’

Letters

If there is a word, such as a surname or address, that is unfamiliar to most people, the recording will spell it out. Make sure you familiarise yourself with how all the letters sound. You could also categorise them by similar sound. For example, B, D, E, T, G, P and C all have a similar final sound and may be used to try and trick you.

Addresses

Are you aware of the normal address format in the UK and Australia? Many different countries have very different address formats to this one and can be confusing. In the exam you want to know exactly what to expect.

It is normally:

House/Flat Number
Street Name
Town/City Name

Finally, you might have to write down a post code. These always start and end with one or two letters first (normally the same as the city) and then a series of numbers in between. Make sure you write down both the letters and numbers. Example: M1 4JH

For example:

22 South Street
Bristol
BS1 5TW

Dates

Make sure you are aware of the spelling of all the days of the week, especially difficult ones like Wednesday. This is also true for months like February. Also, if you don’t put a capital letter at the beginning of these words you will be incorrect.

Also be aware of some synonyms such as, weekend for Saturday and Sunday or fortnight for two weeks.

There are also different ways of saying and writing dates, for example:

‘The eleventh of September 2002′ could be written as ’11 September 2002.’

Again, pay attention to the word limit in the question and only write under this limit.

Summary

These questions may seem straightforward but there are many tricks and unfamiliarities that can come up in this section. Make sure you are prepared by following the advice in this post, but the most important thing is to practice these kinds of question again and again.

If you have any more comments or questions, please feel free to comment below.

I hope you found my IELTS listening form filling question tips useful.

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Comments:

20 Comments

  1. Adriana says

    I have a question similar to Sara’s… if the answer of a given question is a spelled last name, for example, BROWNE, should I write it like ‘Browne’ or B-R-O-W-N ??

    1. Christopher Pell says

      Difficult names will always be spelled out and you should write them exactly how they are spelled out.

  2. Sara says

    Hey Chris
    I want to ask you about writing the postal codes.
    I’ve practiced a lot of listening test and usually at the first section they appeared
    And the postal code mostly contains two words just like you write it above.
    For ex BS1 18PD and if I write it together will it be considered as a correct answer? I really don’t know where to separate the postal code.
    Thanks a lot

  3. Anas says

    What do you means with ‘B, D, E, T, G, P and C all have a similar final sound and may be used to try and trick you.’ I didn’t get you there.
    Could you please more explanation?

    Thanks
    Anas

    1. Christopher Pell says

      They are different letters but they have the same sound at the end when you say them. That sound is /i:/. If you are unfamiliar with sounds please Google ‘phonemic chart’.

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