IELTS Listening Lesson: training attention

To succeed in IELTS Listening, you should be very attentive. In this lesson we’ll train to read IELTS Listening questions carefully and avoid simple mistakes caused by lack of attention. Although this may sound too simple for you, in fact it’s very important to learn to read the questions carefully.

Quite often test-takers lose marks because they have read the question inattentively. For example:

Example 1. Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for the answer.

How much does Adult All-Day Pass cost? ....................

Thank you for choosing City Tours! The reason so many people choose our tours when visiting this city is because you can design your tour to suit your own interests. Your all-day pass entitles you to board up bus at any stop, and stay as long as you like at each place. The all-day bus pass cost 18$ for adults. Children between the ages of 5 and 12 pay half the adult fare.

Correct answer: eighteen dollars.

It’s clearly said in the recording that “The all-day bus pass cost 18$ for adults”. But if you wrote 18 $, your answer would be marked as incorrect! This is because the question asks you to write “no more than two words for the answer”, so numbers and symbols are automatically considered as incorrect.

To avoid such mistakes, make sure you:

  1. Write words if you’re asked to write words, and write numbers if you’re asked to write numbers.
  2. Don’t exceed the word limit.
  3. Answer the question with relevant information


Let’s see more examples and exercises.

Example 2. Write NO MORE THAN ONE WORD for each answer.

The man’s occupation is ................ .

Woman: And what is your occupation?

Man: I’m an editorial office manager.

In this example you can write only one word for your answer. Even though the man says that he’s an editorial office manager, you should shorten his occupation to fit into the word limit. The key word here is manager.

So the correct answer is manager.

Those test-takers who read the question inattentively, would exceed the word limit, writing editorial office manager. But such answer achieves 0 points.


IELTS Listening Practice: reading questions attentively

Exercise 1: write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.

How long has the woman been living in the town?

What is going on in the park?


The woman says that she’s been living in that town for 10 years. But as the question asks you to write no more than two words, the correct answer is ten years. She also says that the Spring City Fair is going in the park. But you have to shorten that Spring City Fair to city fair or simply fair to fit into the word limit.

Exercise 2: tick ALL the correct answers.

Which animals did Lucy adopt?



In this exercise all four animals are mentioned. But if you read the question attentively, you will note that it asks you "Which animals did Lucy adopt?". And Lucy says that she adopted her cat and dog, and then she adds: "I also have a parrot and a goldfish, but they're not adopted".

So the correct answers are dog and cat. Note that the question asks you to tick ALL the correct answers, so if you ticked only one correct answer, you would achieve half of the points for this exercise.

Exercise 3: answer the questions below with NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS OR A NUMBER.

How old is Mr. Northwood? years old.

How old is Paul? years old.


In this exercise, you can write no more than 2 words or a number for each answer. Mr. Northwood is 103 years old, so the correct answer is 103. You cannot write one hundred and three, as this answer would exceed the word limit. And Paul is 34 years old. You can write the answer in two ways: 34 or thirty-four.

When it’s possible to write a number for the answer, always write a number! This way you’ll save your time and avoid grammar mistakes.