Listening Practice Lesson: Sponsored Walk

This listening practice lessons focuses on two types of questions: short answer questions and gap fill questions (sentence completions questions). The topic is based on an inspiring story of one person’s efforts to raise money to support doctors and nurses as well as patients in the UK during this coronavirus situation.

Listening Practice: Tom’s Sponsored Walk

Questions 1 – 7

  • Only one word or number for your answer.
  • Answers might come quickly, so be prepared to make notes rather than writing down full answers while you listen.
  • Read the questions very carefully before listening to the recording.
  • Note that some questions are short answer questions and others are gap fills.
  1. Does Tom currently serve in the army?
  2. How much did he hope to raise?
  3. Where was his sponsored walk to take place?
  4. Tom eventually raised a …………….. £21 million.
  5. Many hope that Tom will be …………….. for his efforts.
  6. Tom’s aims to support the NHS have struck a ………….. with many people in the UK.
  7. Tom has shown how a single person can …..….. the nation.
  8. Every ……….. helps.

Audio Recording



The answers are now available.


All the best, Liz

Tom Moore


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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? What about using capital letters in the computer based IELTS test? Read below to learn about this.

Using Capital Letters for IELTS Answers: Rules & Advice

Below you will find advice for using capital letters for writing your answers in IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing.

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want. You can do this for the paper based test and the computer based test. It is completely up to you. There is no rule stating whether you should use capital or lower case.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can write in all capital letters.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • HOSPITAL = correct / hospital = correct / 9am = correct / 9AM = correct 

Which is best? Capital letters or lower case?

I recommend writing your listening and reading answers in capital letters for the paper based test. This avoids any problems of markers struggling to read your handwriting. For the computer based test, it doesn’t matter. Both lower case and upper case will be easy to read. 

Transferring Answers in Listening & Reading

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet in the paper based test. Check your answers and check your spelling – then write your answers on the answer sheet.  If your handwriting is poor, write using all capital letters so it is easy to read. For the computer based test, you do not need to transfer answers. You only need to check what you have already put into the computer. For this reason, you will be given only 2 mins to check your answers after the recording ends.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is clear writing for the paper based test. Use all capital letters if your handwriting isn’t clear.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I would not recommend it because:

  1. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.
  2. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when grammatically appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words should NEVER be used to start a sentence in formal writing. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:


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IELTS Listening Test Changes Jan 2020

Starting January 4th, the IELTS listening test will have the following changes:

IELTS Listening Test Change 1

There will be no example played in part 1. Usually there would be an example answer for you to listen to at the start of the recording. This helped you get used to the accent and check the volume if you were using headphones. This example has now been removed. This is a very important change that you need to be ready for. You must listen carefully from the start of the recording for answer 1.

IELTS Listening Test Change 2

The word “sections” will now be changed to “parts”. This won’t affect the actual test, but it is something that is useful to know.

IELTS Listening Test Change 3

There will be no page number references. But there will still be references to question number. Again, this is no big change for you, but it is something to be aware of.

There are no other changes to the IELTS Listening Test or the Reading, Writing or Speaking Tests. For pros and cons of the computer based test, see this page: Computer based IELTS. For useful information about the IELTS test does and don’ts, see this page: IELTS FAQ Visit the Official IELTS page for verification of the above changes: IELTS Listening Test Format


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Listening Practice: Autism Hour

This lesson focuses on sentence completion questions which basically means filling the gaps with a word or words from the recording. It’s a common question type in IELTS listening tests. To do well at this type of question you need to be good at paraphrasing and being able to spot keywords in the question to help you navigate the audio.

I chose the topic of Autism because I feel it is one we all need to know more about. Autistic people experience the world in a very different way to people who are neuro-typical. The more we understand, the more we will love, value and respect people with Autism.

Questions 1-5: No more than two words.

  1. Autism can affect how someone ……….. with others and how they experience the world.
  2. Businesses should ………. their lights and reduce noise during Autism Hour.
  3. Too much light and noise and lead to a sensory ………… which can be painful for people with autism.
  4. Society is mostly …………. towards neuro-typical people.
  5. Some people with other illnesses can also struggle to cope with ………… information.

Recording: Listen only once.


Answers for this lesson are now available.

Click here: Answers to Autism Hour Listening Lesson

Message from Liz: Autism is something close to my heart. Please take the time to learn more by choosing one of the following links:

The Reason I Jump. This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read. It opened my eyes to the incredible world experienced by Autistic people. Written by Naoki Higashida, who has severe autism, it provides a special insight into what someone with autism experiences and the reasons for their reactions so we can understand and support them. You can purchase this on Amazon. Here is a link to it for UK buyers: The Reason I Jump 

National Autistic Society, UK. This website will give you information about autism and what you can do to help:


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Rainforest Fires Listening Practice

This listening practice is based on the recent wildfires in the Amazon. I thought it would give you a chance to get your vocabulary and listening up to scratch with this topic. Don’t be surprised if you find this topic appearing in writing task 2 or in the speaking test. The environment is a common topic in all sections of the IELTS test.

Rainforest Listening Practice for IELTS

Questions 1- 6: Complete the sentences below using no more than two words.

  1. One in ten ………. on Earth live in the Amazon rainforest.
  2. These fires are actually visible from ………. .
  3. The fires affect thousands of mammal, reptile, ………….. and bird species.
  4. Animals trying to escape the fires by hiding may die from the flames, heat or ……………………..
  5. The consequences of changing ecosystems due to the fires can filter down to impact the …………
  6. The Amazon is known as the ……… of the planet.




The answers are not available for this lesson. Click here: Answers for Rainforest Listening

More Useful Links


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IELTS Multiple Choice Listening Practice Lesson

A multiple choice listening practice lesson for IELTS about a volunteer conservation program. Conservation and wildlife topics are typical in not only IELTS listening but also reading, writing and speaking. Read the multiple choice tips before tackling the listening questions.

Tips for MC Questions

  1. The key to multiple choice questions is to spot the difference between the options given.
  2. You will probably hear words from all options.
  3. Don’t try to match words – aim for meaning.
  4. Your task is to locate the keyword(s) that will help you find the right answer.
  5. Keep listening after you choose your answer in case the speaker adds more information that changes the answer.
  6. Be ready to move to the next question – do this by keeping an eye on the keywords for the next question.

Read the questions first and then play the recording. In the real IELTS test, you can listen only once. The recording audio is given below the questions.

Multiple Choice Questions: 1-5: Complete the statements below by choosing the correct letter.

Question 1: The volunteer program relates to….

  • a) all kinds of turtles.
  • b) only Olive Ridley turtles.
  • c) various kinds of turtles.

Question 2: Volunteers can join the program for ….

  • a) as long as they want.
  • b) no more than 12 weeks.
  • c) one week.

Question 3: Accommodation is ….

  • a) luxury with a local family.
  • b) with a local family in the best house.
  • c) basic with a local family.

Question 4: Volunteers must be …

  • a) individuals of 18 years old.
  • b) individuals or groups with experience.
  • c) over the age of 18 but do not need experience.

Question 5: Volunteers will …

  • a) clear the beach of rubbish.
  • b) relocate baby turtles.
  • c) help adult turtles move along the beach.

Notice: The information from this listening exercise is actually based on a real conservation program that helps turtles in Costa Rica. It sounds fantastic! Take a look: Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Program for Volunteers. Always check details with their site because the details above have been adapted for my listening lesson. For me personally, I just love turtles and had to make this lesson 🙂


The answers and transcript are available to check on the link below:

Click here: Answers & Transcript to Turtle Lesson

Listening Practice: My University

This listening practice is with a video rather than an audio recording. It is a video of Royal Holloway, University of London, which is actually where I completed my BA Hons degree. I thought you would enjoy seeing it. The main building is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen for a university.

The listening exercise is not difficult so I expect you all to get at least 5 out of 6 correct 🙂

Listening Practice: My University

Read the questions first and then listen to the video below and answer the questions.

Questions 1 – 6: no more than three words and/or a number

  1. The University of London is made up of ………. different institutions.
  2. The college was established in ………..
  3. Nowadays, the university has ………… students from over 100 countries.
  4. The campus feels like a peaceful, ……….. place in the countryside.
  5. Royal Holloway is located ………… from the centre of London.
  6. There are three world class faculties: the arts faculty, …………….and ……………………, and the science faculty.

Liz’s University: Royal Holloway, University of London

Listen to the video and answer the questions above.

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The answers are now available for this lesson.

Click here: Answers for My University Listening Lesson

All the best


IELTS Listening Diagrams Practice & Tips

Useful practice and tips for IELTS Listening Diagram Labelling Questions. IELTS listening diagrams can come in any section of the IELTS listening test. You will be presented with a visual diagram requiring you to either label parts of the diagram or complete notes in the diagram. It is important that you prepare for this type of IELTS listening question. Please note that the lessons below are not tests, they are practice lessons for IELTS listening diagrams.

Tips for IELTS Listening Diagram Labelling

  1. In your IELTS listening test, you can listen only once. There is no pause button.
  2. Different question types will have different instructions – pay attention to this! Word count!
  3. Read the questions carefully before listening. You will need to develop speed reading for this.
  4. Pay attention to keywords given in the diagram- they will help you find the answers.
  5. The information in the diagram will be presented in a logical order. Follow the order.
  6. Locate the question numbers on the diagram.
  7. The numbers will come in order in the listening test.
  8. Be ready for words to be paraphrased from the diagram.
  9. Note what kind of answer you are listening for: noun, verb, adj, number etc.
  10. When you check your answers for these lessons, always listen to the recording and read the transcript again for more practice.

IELTS Listening Practice: Mars Insight Probe

Read questions and review diagram before listening. Download pdf questions & diagram here: IELTS Listening Diagram Mars Probe

Questions 1 – 3

Complete the sentences using no more than one word and/or a number.

  1. The Insight probe will investigate Mars’ ………………
  2. The probe is currently situated near Mars’ …………..
  3. Scientists aim to learn about Mars’ composition from its core to its ………..

Questions 4 – 7

Complete the diagram below using no more than two words and/or numbers.

Diagram: Insight Lander

Source: Both diagram and article are from BBC NEWS

Answers & Transcript

Please click below to reveal vocabulary, transcript and answers:


  • plunge = dive, decent
  • vast = enormous
  • plain = large area of flat land without obstacles such as large rocks
  • core = centre
  • crust = hard outer layer of something
  • seismometer = an instrument that measures movement such as earthquakes
  • orbits = circles (vb)
  • pointers = clues
  • circular = round
  • deploy = move into position
Use the transcript below to check your answers, make a note of useful tips and paraphrases and also improve your pronunciation by listening to the recording and reading the transcript at the same time.

The US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars, otherwise known as the Red Planet. after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface.,  The Insight probe aims to study the world’s deep interior, and make it the only planet – apart from Earth – that has been examined in this way. Insight is now sitting on a vast, flat plain, close to the Red Planet’s equator. This will be the first probe to dedicate its investigations to understanding Mars’ interior. Scientists want to know how the world is constructed – from its core to its crust.

Looking at the functions of the Insight probe shown on the diagram, we can see that at the top there is a robotic arm which places instruments such as the seismometer on the planet’s surface. Attached to the arm is an instrument monitoring camera. On the main body of the probe there are sensors for both temperature and wind as well as a rise antenna. This measures the movement of Mars’ North Pole as it orbits the sun giving pointers about the iron-rich centre of the planet and hopefully more information about the composition and size of the planet’s core. On either side of the main body of the probe are two large circular solar panels which were deployed immediately on landing to operate its systems and warm equipment in the sub-zero temperatures on the planet . To delve deep into the ground and measure the planet’s temperature, there is a heat flow probe that will penetrate to a depth of 5m or 16ft.

Answers have been written using all capital letters – this is recommended for both reading and listening answers.
  3. CRUST
    1. It is not necessary to use a comma – punctuation is not required in IELTS listening answers. Although using a comma is still acceptable.
    2. Writing the word “and” would make the answer incorrect for two reasons: 1) there is a word limit of max two words 2) the word “and” is already given in the diagram and cannot be part of the answer.
    3. Both words are necessary for one point. There are no half points.
    1. You must have the “s” on panels or the answer will be marked wrong.
    2. You cannot write “circular solar panels” because that is three words and the limit is two words. Also the word “circular” is purely descriptive to help the reader identify the solar panels on the diagram – it is not a word that makes up the compound noun.
  7.   5   16
    1. You must have both numbers for one point. If one number is wrong, the whole answer is marked wrong.
    2. See above about using commas.
    3. You should not put “m” or “ft” or use brackets () with the numbers because that is already given on the diagram. Your task is to write down what is missing.
    4. Note that the instructions for questions 1-3 and the instructions for 4-7 are not the same. Please check them again about the limit for numbers written in answers.


All the best


For more listening lessons and tips, go to the RED BAR at the top of the website. You will also find practice lessons for labelling maps in IELTS listening.

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