This post will guide you through how to answer section 2 of the IELTS listening test (taken from takeielts.britishcouncil.org).
For section one of the listening test, click the button below.
Press play below to continue the guide and follow along.
The next set of questions 11 – 14 want us to choose answers from a list.
First we need to look closely at the task.
Are there more questions than list options?
There are 4 questions and only 3 list options, so yes. This means we will need to use an option more than once (and sometimes we might not need to use an option at all).
Before we listen we should think about
Let's identify key words. Since the list just contains names, let’s focus on the question key words:
‘first time’ is a key phrase. Synonyms (similar words) that might be used in the recording could be ‘new’ or ‘not/never before’.
‘unable’ is an important word. Similar words include ‘not possible’, ‘can’t’, ‘too busy to…’. We should also note that ‘unable…during’ is the same as ‘only able…after/outside’.
‘do not have’ is key here. Synonyms / paraphrases that might be used are ‘haven’t organized/arranged (an appointment)’ or ‘without (an appointment)’.
‘concerns’ and ‘anxiety’ are key words. The recording might use other phrases or words for ‘concern’ such as ‘problems’, ‘issues’ or ‘difficulties’, while for ‘anxiety’ we may hear ‘stress’, ‘depression’ or ‘worries’.
Now that we have thought about key words in the question and possible synonyms/paraphrasing, we are ready to listen. Remember we only need to write the letter.
As we listen
Now listen and try the tips. Check your answers with ours at the end.
‘If you’ve never used a counsellor before, then you should make an appointment with Naomi Flynn.’ Here ‘never used…before’ means the same as ‘first time’.
'Naomi is also the best option for students who can only see a counsellor outside office hours.’ – ‘can see…outside’ is a paraphrase of ‘unable…during’
‘Louise staffs our drop-in centre throughout the day. If you need to see someone without a prior appointment, then she is the one to visit.’ The speaker uses ‘without…prior’ to mean the same as ‘do not have’.
'We encourage anyone who is trying to deal with anxiety to see him (Tony).’ The speaker uses the word ‘anxiety’ so that makes it easier, but instead of ‘concerns’ they say ‘deal with’, which is a paraphrase.
How did you do? A good vocabulary is very important to get a good score in the IELTS test as identifying key words - and knowing words and phrases that have the same meaning – is useful in all parts of the test.
Complete the Table
Press play below to continue.
Let’s review what we talked about for the last Complete the Table style question.
Before we listen we should think about
First let’s guess what type of answers we could use.
For ‘Target Group’ we need to say the kind of students that might join the workshop. The workshop is about ‘adjusting’ which is something new students might need to do, so ‘new’ or ‘first year’ would be a good guess.
To be organized and use time effectively we often find ‘balance’ between work and study. I think that is a good guess.
This is about communication between students of different cultures and staff, so the target group is likely to be ‘foreign’ or ‘international’ students.
A talk about anxiety includes breathing techniques and meditation. What else might it include that helps reduce anxiety? Maybe ‘exercises’ or ‘planning’. This is more difficult to guess as there are more possibilities.
We want to guess the title of the talk. The content is ‘staying on track for long periods’; we can use this to help us. ‘Staying on track’ means ‘Staying motivated/focused’ so the title could be ‘motivation’ or ‘focus’.
Having focus is most important for students who are reaching an important part of their studies, so this talk could be aimed at ‘final year’ students.
Now let’s listen and check our guesses against the real answers.
As we listen
It's time to listen and use the tips. Again, check your answers with ours at the end.
first (1st) year
‘we’re targeting first-year students with this offering.’ As we guessed.
‘discover the right balance between academic and recreational activities.’ This is also the same as our guess. Notice the use of ‘recreational activities’ in the recording, rather than ‘leisure’ in the table. We have to be ready for these differences.
‘International students tend to get a lot out of this class, so we particularly encourage you to come along’. The speaker says ‘we particularly encourage you to come along’ as a way of defining the target audience.
‘we’ll teach you all about relaxation and how to breathe properly’. We our guess wasn’t quite right, but it did well to prepare us for the recording. Note that the speaker says ‘how to breathe properly’ instead of ‘breathing techniques’ in the table.
‘Finally, we have the Motivation workshop.’ Well done if you guessed this correctly.
‘This workshop is strictly for research students’. Our guess was close, but not quite right. Notice the use of the synonym ‘strictly’ instead of ‘only’ in the table. A wide vocabulary is very useful to know what words (synonyms) and phrases (paraphrases) have the same meaning.
Now it’s time to move on to section 3.
Support our free lessons with a donation!
Note: If the interactive exercises aren't giving you a score, try refreshing the page.
IELTSTutors.org - All these IELTS lessons are completely free, so enjoy studying and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!