IELTS Listening: Special Tips for Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple choice question appears in different formats in IELTS listening test. Please take a look at the actual test question examples below. It will help you understand the different patterns of MCQ that you may face in listening test.

Multiple choice question in listening test can be in the form of short answer question which is demonstrated by the question number 21 of example 1. It can also appear in a sentence completion pattern which is like the question number 22 below:

Example 1

IELTS Listening Multiple Choice Question example 1

Source: Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers

Take a look below for another pattern of MCQ that you might go through in listening test.

Example 2

IELTS Listening Multiple Choice Question example 2

Source: Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers

Here in the example 2 above, you need to select two correct options for the question number 17 and 18. You don't need to be worried about which answer belongs to number 17 and which one belongs to number 18. All you need is just write the correct answers in the two boxes 17 and 18 on your answer sheet, regardless the order. 

Common Problems

  • You are likely to hear almost all the options in the audio clip. This is why you might feel even more confused to decide the answer.

  • Many students rush to select an option thinking they might have heard it. In fact, the examiner knows their tendency. That's why he/she gives the options that were mentioned in the audio.

  • Synonyms and paraphrases play a very critical role in listening question. Because in listening test, students need to do so many things at a time. Therefore, replacing with appropriate synonyms or paraphrases might be a nightmare for many students. They fail to remember what exactly they might have heard, and which answer option they can relate to.

Solution Tips

  • Read the instruction sentence carefully. There might have important information about what you are allowed to do and what you are told not to do.

  • Don't rush to select an option only because that was mentioned in the audio. You might see that all the options were mentioned in the audio. But remember, just because an option was mentioned in the audio doesn't mean the answer is correct.  

  • Find the keywords in the different options. Look at the subtle differences between the options. It will help you find the correct option.

  • Don't expect matching words in the answer options. Normally you will have to deal with synonyms or paraphrases. Therefore, whatever you see on the question sheet, think how it could be expressed using synonyms or paraphrases.

  • Don't just write down whatever you hear at first. Wait for the final words.

  • Be aware of qualifying words like but, however, most, sometimes, usually etc. These words can turn the meaning of a sentence into another direction.

  • You know you will get 30-45 seconds before each audio clip begins. Remember, never waste this precious 30-45 seconds trying to check your answer of the previous answered section. Rather take a quick look at the section that you are going to start hear about soon, and try to predict the answer bearing synonyms and paraphrases in your mind.

Check the resource:

Essential grammar and vocabulary for IELTS

Check the other Listening question types with detailed analyses and examples: