Listening Test Audio Guide Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

This post will help guide us through the section 4 of the IELTS listening test. For a guide through sections 1 to 3, click the buttons below.
To start section four, click the play button below.
IELTSTutors Guided Listening Test 31-40.mp3
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File Type: mp3

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​Listening section 4 is usually a lecture on an academic topic.

​In this test, notice that there is no break in the recording between the complete the table and multiple choice question, so we have less time to study the questions. 

Complete The Table

​The next set of questions 31 to 35 ask us to complete the table with only one word for each answer.
Let’s review what we know about completing tables.
IELTSTutors Tips:
Before we listen we should think about
  • the instructions – How many words can we use?
  • the headings and the examples – What kind of information is needed? Are they nouns/verbs etc?
  • the answers – we should try to guess what the answers might be.

​Let’s use these tips on the questions. Think about them yourself first before looking at our notes
IELTSTutors Notes | Complete the Table
How many words can we use?

We should answer with only one word.

What information is needed, and what might the answer be?

​The table indicates that time perspectives is all about the way people think about the world. For the past, if the first Outlook entry is ‘positive’, then the second entry could be ‘negative (which matches ‘Focuses on disappointments’).

​This is likely to be a definition of hedonistic, which means living for pleasure. The answer may be similar to this.

​Fatalistic means that we can’t control our lives, so it could be that life is governed by genetics/genes/environment or a similar noun

​This one is difficult to guess, so to prepare we can think of paraphrases of the features and consequences. Something like: ‘These people would choose to work rather than play, and resist distractions.’

​This might be the importance of goodness/success/honesty (or a similar noun) in life.

Multiple Choice

With these last questions 36 – 40, We are expected to complete the sentences by selecting the correct option A, B or C. There are some strategies we can use to help us.

IELTSTutors Tips:

Before we listen we should

  • have a look at the stems (the stem is the first part of the sentence or the question). Identifying key words in the stem will help you be ready for the relevant part of the recording.
  • decide what we think will be discussed in the recording based on the information in the stem. 

Try these tips on each of the questions, then compare your notes with ours.

IELTSTutors Notes | Multiple Choice

The key word is ‘present hedonist‘. We can guess that a present hedonist is someone that only cares about having a good time in the present, so that’s what will probably be talked about.

The key words are ‘drop out‘ and ‘school‘. ‘Drop out’ means ‘leave school before graduation’ so this stem refers to a part of the recording that will mention how boys fail school more often than girls. We should immediately see that option C is unlikely to be the answer. 

Present-orientated children are likely to be those who aren’t really interested in lessons from the past or future consequences. 

The key phrase ‘extra day’ means that this part of the recording might discuss giving people more free time and how they might use it.

Thinking about time’ is a paraphrase of the talk title ‘time perspectives’. This stem is all about how time perspectives can be used to help people.

​Now we have thought about the stems, if you still have time you can think of synonyms for the possible answers. We are going to move on and listen to the recording. 

IELTSTutors Tips:

For complete the table questions 31 – 35

As we listen
  • use the information that is already in the table to follow the recording so you are prepared for the gaps.
  • write your answers in the gaps using words from the recording. Are they similar to you guesses?

​For multiple choice questions 36 – 40

As we listen we should
  • choose the answer from what we hear, not what our opinion is.
  • be aware of false answers. This is when a word or phrase is used in the recording that is the same as an answer option, but it is not the right answer. Make sure that the meaning of your answer matches the meaning of the recording.
  • also be aware that speakers can change their minds, so if they correct themselves, make sure you correct yourself.

At the end if you are not sure about any answers, just cross out options that can’t be true, and choose from the rest.

​Listen and write down your answers, then compare them with ours.

IELTSTutors Answers

Complete the Table


People living in the past negative time zone are also absorbed by earlier times, but they focus on all the bad things’. Here ‘bad things’ is a synonym for ‘disappointments’.


‘Present hedonists are driven by pleasure and immediate sensation’ as we guessed.


Whether it’s poverty, religion or society itself, something stops these people from believing they can play a role in changing their outcomes in life’. Notice the use of ‘religion rather than ‘religious beliefs’ and ‘social conditions’ rather than ‘society itself’.


‘…people classified as future active are the planners and go-getters. They work rather than play and resist temptation’. If you thought the answer was ‘planners’ you would not get a mark, since ‘future active’ is the classification.


‘…they will be assessed on how virtuously they have lived and what success they have had in their lives’. ‘Success’ is the noun that fits the answer here.

Multiple Choice


Everyone is brought into this world as a present hedonist.’ ‘Brought into this world’ is what happens at birth, so the answer is B.


‘…boys require a situation where they have the ability to manage their own learning environment.’ Manage is a synonym of control. A false answer would be B (video games). The recording mentions video games, but this isn’t the reason why boys drop out of school. ​C is also a false answer, because although the writer says ‘boys aren’t as bright as girls’, he goes on to say that ‘the evidence doesn’t support this’.


‘Although they understand the potentially negative consequences of their actions, they persist with the behaviour because they’re not living for the future; they’re in the moment right now.’ ‘understand’ matches ‘know what could happen’, while ‘Something bad’ is a paraphrase of ‘negative consequences’.  


‘They would spend that time laboring away to achieve more. They’re constantly trying to get ahead, to get toward a future point of happiness.’ ‘Labouring away to achieve more’ is a paraphrase of ‘working harder’. Relationships and meals are mentioned, but these are false answers because that is not what they would spend improving given extra time. 


‘Seeing these conflicts as differences in time perspective, rather than distinctions of character, can facilitate more effective cooperation between people and get the most out of each person’s individual strengths.’ ‘facilitate more effective cooperation’ is a complex paraphrase of ‘work together better’.

In the real test, you are given 10 minutes at the end to transfer your answers to the answer sheet. As you do this, you should check all your answers for spelling mistakes.

​Also check for other mistakes, such as the logic of you answers. For example, is there an ‘s’ on the end of a noun that should be singular? Finally, don’t leave any blank answers. If you are not sure, just guess.

So that’s the complete test. We hope it has been useful for you. It highlights how useful it is to think about synonyms and paraphrases for the key words in the questions.
If you feel that you run out of time before you can do this, practicing will speed up your skills. Try lots of listening practice tests so you are fully prepared. Start with the one we have below:

If you found this useful or have some suggestions we would like to hear from you, so leave your comments below.

​For the complete tapescript, click this link:
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