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The IELTS Listening Test – How to Avoid The Most Common Mistakes

ielts listening testThe IELTS Listening Test is a bit tough for non-English speaking countrymen. Non-native English speakers face a real challenge while it comes to listening and understanding ‘UK English.’ In the listening test the audio for the test plays for once only, so even a little bit of distraction may result in losing quite a few marks.

What are the common mistakes found often:

Listening Problems:  While audio is played, ‘Stay focused with best of your concentration.’ It is always a problem to understand the pronunciation of foreigners (Especially conversation of English people persons). But if you don’t know the pronunciation of a single word and try guessing it, you would incur more trouble, by failing to hear more words.

How to understand similar sounding words: While the audio is being played, get hold of the topic of discussion at your earliest. If you don’t know the subject of conversation, you would get confused and would not be able to differentiate between similar sounding words like wood and would, curds and cards. Put stress on listening and understanding as much audio as possible. Listen to TV News, Talk shows, debates on TV. Listening to the sample downloaded audios is a must and hear a lot of such audios. Take a lot of mock tests; this would enhance your listening skill a lot.

Spelling Mistakes: It’s among the most common mistakes made by candidates while writing in a hurry. Usually, they are found to commit errors in writing difficult and long words. For example, the word ‘mischievous,’ comes ‘mischivous’ as apparently, the pronunciation is not different in this case, it does strike in mind. The same mistake occurs while ‘Beginning,’ becomes ‘Begining.’

How to avoid or rectify the problem: An example can be cited how to get rid of such problem. Let’s take the word convenient, which is often seen to write as “convinient.” If you pronounce the word convenient as kun-vee-nee-unt, it will get embossed in your brain, and you will never make a mistake. So you should focus which types of spelling mistake you are prone to make, and you should practice writing them repeatedly. On the internet you would get from Google search ‘Frequently misspelled the word.’ When you are going to appear for one of the highest standard tests, the IELTS, you are supposed to stay well prepared and don’t make silly spelling mistakes. Practice and more practice with deep concentration and keen focus would make the difference. While writing spelling mistakes are bound to happen, but if you are good at spelling, you’ll be able to rectify your mistakes instantly.

Grammatical Mistakes: You may make grammatical mistakes unless you have a profound knowledge of the English grammar. In most of the cases, grammatical mistakes are very deceptive. An open secret in the IELTS test is that ‘Your grammatical accuracy’ would be responsible for your 25% marks. It’s huge, your mistakes in grammar can damage all your efforts, causing a significant change in Band Score.

How to avoid or get rid of the problem: First you should read a ‘High Standard English Grammar Book,’ to become fundamentally strong in grammar. Now you need to know the rules of grammar with the exceptions; hopefully, it will be there in the book. Comes next, learning all the relevant study materials of the IELTS (from the Internet) following the variety usage of grammar. Candidates are found to commit a mistake while writing plural forms, go wrong with the ‘s’ or ‘es’ parts. A good knowledge of grammar and a lot of realistic practice make a great difference.

Pay proper attention during listening and predict surely whether the answer should be in singular or plural forms.  Let’s cite an example: A National Library should keep all popular national journals,  ………. and papers. (If your answer is ‘Magazine,’ it must be in plural numbers as all the others are in plural numbers. So the right answer would be ‘magazines.’ This is a basic example. If you good at grammar you will be able to differentiate between the countable and uncountable nouns. Like: He gave us a lot of informations information. She gave me a lot of newses news. Thus you need to have the basic grammatical knowledge to avoid committing mistakes.

Some more common mistakes in the IELTS listening test: 

  1. Write your answers while listening to the audio on the question paper. At the end of listening to the audio, you’ll get 10 minutes to transfer your answer sheet. Keep your concentration at the highest level so that in order to copy an answer you don’t miss a word in the audio. Transfer your answer on the ‘Answer Sheet,’ at the end of the test.
  2. A common mistake which students make is that they do not read the instructions, it’s almost a penal offense. You must read the instructions with sharp attention; otherwise, you would be in trouble. Say in the instruction, it is given that, ‘Write in not more than two words’, you have to write in two words. otherwise, ‘No marks at all for that’.
  3. Sometimes you might be asked to encircle the right answers, and there might be two right answers. If you don’t read the instruction very carefully, you are bound to commit mistake and lose marks.
  4. Apart from spelling mistakes, if you misspell the names of city or country or address, you will lose marks. These actually falls in the general awareness category, like: You have heard the name of an American city, and while writing the answer you misspell it, you would lose marks.
  5. Incomplete answers also matter for losing marks. Write incomplete answers, that’s the only solution.
  6. Sometimes students don’t check back their answers. Checking the answers may provide you to rectify a mistake or two.
  7. The listening test has four sections. At the beginning of each section, there would be some instructions and students are given some time to look at the questions. Then the actual audio is played, you have to listen and write down the answer on the question booklet at the same time, this needs a high concentration as you need to write the answers right because the audio is played only once. It is understandable that, listening to the audio and writing the answer at the same time, really need a lot of practice.
  8. Some students mistakenly copy answers on the answer sheet, during the gap between the end of a section and beginning of another. It makes a blunder as this time is given for concentrating on reading the questions. You must not commit the mistake because it would not be possible for you to listen to the audio, reading the questions and answering them at a time.
  9. You would get 10 minutes to transfer the answer to the ‘Answer Sheet,’ so wasting time on trying to write the answers would be a costly mistake, very costly indeed.

    Apart from making the most common mistakes, students are found to be caught up in a few traps. Like
  • Figuring out his score while the audio is being played. Otherwise, you are sure to miss out major ‘Keywords,’ so don’t do it.
  • Writing an answer and swaying, whether it is right or not, is a big time killer. So stick to the first thought.
  • A majority of the students do not carefully read the instruction to save time. But the outcome might be disastrous. Following every bit of instructions is a must as it tells the students ‘What to do and exactly how to do.’
  • Students often check for errors during the gap between two sections, its’ a big mistake. You should complete all the four sections and then use the 10 minutes time to check your answer.
  • It is not possible for anybody to understand each and every word of the audio. But students often get scared and feel nervous and become prone to commit mistakes. Listening to the ‘Keyword’ is important. If you miss a word or two don’t feel scared, you can still do well if you don’t miss the ‘Keywords.’
  • There is a trick applied in the IELTS listening; it’s like A person provides a wrong information and quickly amends and provide the right information. This trick is known as a distraction, where student’s concentration gets distracted, and he makes mistakes. Losing concentration is as bad as losing marks. Let’s clarify a little more. A person tells a phone number like 25789432 immediately; he says sorry the number is 25789342. If you are in a hurry to write the number you might make a mess of it.
  •  You must pay attention to some words, like: “sorry”, “Oh! I said it wrong”. These are the indicators that a wrong information must have provided, which will be rectified immediately. Students should keep in mind that, a few distraction is a common thing especially section 1 of the listening test.

The foremost thing is while you read the questions, try to remember them. When the audio is played don’t try to read and hear (not listen) at the same time. The fine line between hearing & listening is that when you are listening to anything you are hearing with full attention. When listening to the audio you would get the answers easily as you have read the questions thoroughly. Write down the answers in short in your question booklet, with full attention in ‘Listening to the audio’. When the audio stops, you would get enough time to transfer your answers to the ‘Answer Sheet’. Every step of the exams are well contemplated and neatly structured. So, if you know all the ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ and prepare well, there is no need to panic.

For your information, if you get to write around 40 right answers, even then you can score band 7. A few questions would be there, which would be the really difficult answer and you can take it for granted those are for them, who are trying to achieve band 8 or more. Mind it, you can’t afford to lose concentration during the exam and expect to score high- these two things are not desired to happen at the same time. Not even the ‘Native English Speaking’ candidates can answer all the questions, especially the too difficult ones. So with panicking and losing your marks, concentrate hard and try to answer as many questions as possible.


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