Our mission here at IELTS Advantage is to help pupils get the score they need on their IELTS exam. Recently, we have received an influx of requests for help with IELTS Listening. You spoke and we heard you – this blog post will detail the 10 actions you must take if you need to score a Band 8 in IELTS Listening.
1. Stop looking for tips
A common misconception amongst IELTS pupils is that tips or tricks can help you secure the band you need.
Unfortunately, this mentality will only waste precious time that you should spend studying.
Tips don’t bring results.
Believing that you can trick your way into a good IELTS band will give you a false sense of security which will ultimately damage your overall score.
The IELTS exam is monitored and regulated by seasoned professionals. It cannot be tricked and neither can the examiners. The only way to guarantee an excellent score is working for it.
2. Listen to English every day
We all know that this is the most important step needed to develop your listening skills. Listening to the English language being used will allow you to gain a better understanding of its natural usage.
If you are reading this article, then you have access to the internet. Therefore, you have access to thousands of free resources that can help build your listening ability.
Do you take a bus to work? Whether it’s a twenty-minute journey or an hour-long journey, listening to podcasts during your commute can be both beneficial and enjoyable.
Do you cook your family dinner in the evenings? Make it a habit to listen to an English radio show while you do.
Do you find yourself browsing Facebook aimlessly on your lunch break? Why not watch a TED Talk on a topic that interests you?
Your phone doesn’t always have to be a distraction. When used wisely, it can become one of your best assets for IELTS preparation.
If you would like recommendations for IELTS Listening digital resources, please see the list of links below:
3. Listen actively
A key method of improving your English skills through active listening is by listening to a range of conversation points from a variety of sources. This will subsequently introduce you to unfamiliar vocabulary and a broader range of accents.
Listening actively can help improve your spelling, grammar and vocabulary – all of which are crucial in passing the IELTS Listening exam.
One method that we recommend to our VIP Academy students is buying a notebook. Make sure to record any word you hear that you are unsure of. You should then review it – look it up in a dictionary, finding out for yourself how it is used in a sentence.
Depending on your specific areas of weakness, you can then add in antonyms, synonyms, collocations and pronunciation.
Your vocabulary range, spelling ability and grammar cannot be improved by memorising long, tedious lists of words. Furthermore, this is not an organic way of learning the English language and will result in your eventually forgetting the information that you forced your brain to remember under.
4. Have a strategy
It’s important that you remember that the Listening section of the IELTS test consists of a number of different questions.
Each type of question requires a different type of skill and a separate strategy.
Whether you use our strategies or come up with your own, it is important that you have a system that you can follow step-by-step.
Having a strategy means you will know exactly what to do on the day of your exam, boosting both your grade and your confidence massively.
To learn more about the listening strategies we recommend, see the free articles and video lessons below:
5. Practice Wisely
Completing and correcting practice papers is a very important and difficult process. However, it is important that you don’t simply complete paper after paper because listening is a skill that needs improving. Testing yourself repeatedly will never improve your skillset.
And more importantly – it’s really boring!
I’ve already mentioned how important it is to invest time on a consistent basis. Realistically, it is very unlikely that you will be able to focus on practice tests when it bores the pants off you.
When you think of something as a chore, it will be a chore.
Furthermore, it’s important that the time you invest in practising is not wasted.
As such, you need to make sure you use authentic tests created by the same bodies that write the IELTS exam. Otherwise, the material you practice will not match the format of the exam, giving you unrealistic expectations and a lot of confusion.
If you need help finding reliable practice papers, please watch this video.
Remember: practice papers should be challenging because the IELTS exam is challenging. If you don’t find practice papers difficult, you probably aren’t practising wisely.
Make sure to complete your practice papers under the same time conditions that you will be under in the exam. This will allow you to improve your time management skills, removing a massive source of stress for many IELTS test-takers.
When marking your completed papers, you should pay extra attention to your spelling. Be harsh and be honest – the whole point of completing practice papers is to give you a representation of your exam skills.
By marking leniently, your score will not be accurate because an IELTS examiner will never be lenient when marking your paper. Instead, they will follow this.
For more advice on practising wisely, you should read our IELTS Listening Practice Guide.
Reflecting on your mistakes is more important than reflecting on your strengths because you can learn much more from them.
What’s the easiest way of learning from your weaknesses?
Take a notebook and a pen and make it a part of your routine to write down words that you consistently misspell, mispronounce or mishear.
By noting these down, you can easily view patterns in your weaknesses and gain a better understanding of the mistakes that are lowering your marks.
7. Enjoy it
Listen for pleasure.
If you enjoy what you are doing, you will find it easier to do it consistently. Studying doesn’t always have to be boring or laborious!
If you are reading this article then you have access to an unlimited supply of learning materials at your fingertips. You can use your smartphone or laptop to find a podcast, YouTube video or Ted Talk that interests you at any time you like.
The content you listen to shouldn’t always be IELTS related.
In fact, it definitely shouldn’t!
IELTS Listening tests your ability to understand the English language in a real-life context – and native English speakers don’t talk about the IELTS exam very often!
When you aren’t used to listening to English, it’s very easy to lose focus.
This is one of the biggest dangers in IELTS Listening. Losing focus for even a few seconds can cost you the chance of getting a Band 8.
For example, failing to focus could result in you misreading a question, which will then confuse you and make it difficult to think clearly about the answer. At this point, it is very easy for the situation to snowball and for you to panic, losing even more focus and even more marks!
So, what is the best way of staying focused?
Look after yourself.
Making tweaks to your diet, choosing to walk instead of drive, exercising more regularly and drinking more water are all easy lifestyle choices that will help you maintain focus.
These small steps will increase your mentality and productivity both in the test and in your day-to-day life, allowing you to manage stress much better and focus on what is important.
9. Be prepared
Know what to expect on test day and know how to deal with it.
All the information you will need is available, you just need to use it to reliably predict the exact types of question that will come up.
We make sure that our pupils know which questions will appear and how to systematically answer them. However, this preparation is achieved through consistent practice, honest feedback and reflection. In turn, this preparation will ensure that our students aren’t surprised on test day, making it easier for them to focus on the exam with a clear head.
I’m not going to tell you that ultimate preparation will mean you won’t be nervous. It is completely normal for you to experience nerves and stress. However, being prepared will give you a confidence that will allow you to manage your stress and use it to your advantage.
10. Don’t book the test until you are confident
Every single time we have to turn them down.
This is because we don’t believe in taking money from people that we can’t help. Sadly, the reality is that we cannot help people that don’t allow themselves enough time to prepare for the exam.
Do not rush into booking the test.
Above all, setting yourself an unrealistic deadline will put you under a massive amount of pressure that is both damaging and avoidable.
By following the steps above and allowing yourself a realistic timeframe, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get a Band 8 in IELTS Listening. Subsequently, this will allow you to earn the life-changing career, visa or academic opportunity of your dreams.