Changes to IELTS Listening

Several people have asked me about changes to the #IELTS listening test.  This screenshot from the official IELTS page explains these changes, which are minor and should not affect candidates.  The changes will take effect early in January 2020.

Changes to IELTS listening

As you can see, the only changes are:

1) removing the example before the very first question in section 1, and

2) a change in terms: the 4 sections will now be called ‘parts.’  There are no other changes – the format and questions will remain the same.


Someone commented here recently that they use the example time to highlight key terms in multiple choice questions in other sections (e.g. in parts 3 and 4).  This is not what it is intended for and perhaps shows why it is a good idea to remove it.

Important points to remember for listening:

  • You should always have your eyes on the question page related to the section (or part) you will be /are listening to.
  • The marks you score for part 1 are just as important as those for parts 3 and 4 – don’t assume these will take little effort on your part.
  • Use the questions to help you stay focused and on track.

The listening chapter of The Key to IELTS Success as well as the listening skills units of The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS show you how and why this is important.


You can find a link to the official page here:

Recent Comments

  • Andrew k
    21st April 2020 - 10:39 am ·

    Hi….please, I purchased your app on play store but after practising a page called people where we have words like individual, siblings etc that was all. Is that the only words the app provides ?

  • Male
    4th April 2020 - 9:41 am ·

    Hi Pauline,

    Thank you for your advice.
    I would like to know when your new book is available.
    In the meantime, I hope you are safe from the virus.

  • Liam
    11th January 2020 - 11:29 am ·

    Hi Pauline,
    This news is terrible for me and my classmates because we are all trained to use the example time to look over the paper and highlight the keywords.
    As you said, this is not what it is intended for and perhaps shows why it is a good idea to remove it.But now the newest Cambridge student’s book(15) hasn’t came out, so do I need to skip the example by myself every time I practice?
    Thanks very mcuh!

    • Pauline
      11th January 2020 - 11:49 am ·

      Yes, I would definitely skip any examples in materials you have. You are effectively practising with extra time you will not have. You may also see an improvement in your scores for part 1 as a result.

  • Milan Kardo
    2nd January 2020 - 4:12 pm ·

    Hi Pauline,
    Thank you Pauline for sharing the news. Can you explain as a test writer why “section” has changed into “parts”? I know this is a minor change that does not affect candidates, but I just wanted to know the reason out of curiosity. Thank you.

    • Pauline
      3rd January 2020 - 1:47 pm ·

      Test writers don’t make decisions like that, but I would guess it is simply an administrative decision. When one company produces different tests it is helpful if they all have the same terms to reduce errors and confusion.

Leave a Comment

IELTS Author Pauline Cullen

Books for band 7+

Apps for bands 7+