IELTS Listening: Section 4 Practice

The listening exercise below is based on section 4 of IELTS listening and this particular exercise focuses on short answer questions. Read through the tips below before you start to listen.

Section 4 Tips
  • Section 4 is an academic talk by one speaker
  • Academic lectures are usually structured (introduction, main points, examples etc)
  • Notice when the speaker moves from one main point to another
  • Follow the structure of the talk to keep your place in the audio
  • Academic talks contain academic vocabulary
  • Don’t try to understand everything
  • Focus on listening for answers only
  • Predict the type of answer you need to listen for
  • Listen out for paraphrases
  • For this type of question type, answers will come in order
  • Make notes as you listen
  • Section 4 usually has 10 questions – this is a practice exercise

When you finish your listening practice, listening again and read the transcript at the same time. Answers are given below.

Section 4 Practice

Questions 1-5
Write no more than three words and/or a number.

Dolphin Intelligence

1. The lecture will concentrate on tools, communication, sonar and what other aspect of dolphin intelligence?
2. How big is the brain of the bottle-nosed dolphin?
3. What other species use tools?
4. What can dolphins copy from other species?
5. Can dolphins see out of the water?
6. What does a dolphin hear through?

Today I’m going to talk to you about dolphin intelligence and in particular their use of tools, methods of communication, sonar and also their sensory capacity.
But first let’s look at how the dolphin brain compares to the brains of other species in terms of size. The largest brain in the world belongs to the sperm whale. Weighing some 9,000 grams, it is six to seven times larger than the human brain. The second largest brain in the world is the killer whale (or orca) at 6,000 grams. The next largest brain among the marine mammals is the bottlenosed dolphin at 1,500 grams, followed by human brains at approximately 1,200 grams. Strong connections between the sensorial and motive areas of a dolphin’s brain to the body indicate that it is very much sensitive to pain and stress.
Looking at the way dolphin’s use tools, while many believe that primates, such as chimpanzees, are the only species who use tools for activities, dolphins studied in the wild have been seen using sea sponges to protect their snouts from getting scratches as they scavenge for food on the ocean floor. Dependent calves, young baby dophins, are also provided with sponges from their mothers, as research in the wild has seen infant dolphins wearing tiny sponges on their snouts while swimming close to their mothers.
With regards to dolphin communication, dolphins utilize “signature whistles” to identify themselves to others. In other words, these whistles can be seen as representing their names. Furthermore, dolphins also mimic movements, of both humans and other animals.
Another interesting point about dolphins is of course their sonar. It has been suggested by several noted scientists that dolphins may be able to create acoustical holographic images from the interlacing of their sonic output. It is well known that dolphins can see inside the bodies of their fellow dolphins, and other animals in the water. This is because dolphin sonar evolved to pass through water and does not reflect until it hits something like bone or air sacs. Since animal bodies are more than 50% water, their sonar enables them to literally “see” inside other animals.
And finally, dolphins have fantastic sensory capacity. They have the ability to focus their eyesight due to the curvy characteristics of their lenses, thus they are able to see both in and out of water. Moreover, dolphins have little more than a small hole for hearing, as having larger ears would severely affect the creature’s ability to swim. Rather, studies show that sounds are obtained through tiny bones, and then are transferred to the inner ear through the fatty material that surrounds the eardrum. Adapted from here.
1. sensory capacity
2. 1500 grams / 1500g
3. primates / chimpanzees
4. movements
5. yes
6. a small hole / small hole
  • capacity = ability
  • indicate = show / point to
  • primate = monkey
  • snouts = noses (for dolphins and pigs)
  • scavenge = hunt / forage
  • infant = new born / child
  • mimic = copy



More Short Answer Questions Practice
More Section 4 Practice

Summary Completion: IELTS Listening Practice

IELTS Listening Summary Completion Exercise

The difficulty level of this exercise is typical of IELTS section 4. First read through the summary and predict the types of answers you need for each gap.

The Terracotta Army

Complete the summary using no more than three words and /or a number.

Questions 1-5

The terracotta army was made in order to 1.  …………………… the emperor after this death in his afterlife. This funerary art has been estimated to be from the 2. ………………. and was discovered in 1974 by the 3. …………………… The majority of the sculptures were 4.  …………. and 5. ………….. sculptures of cavalry horses were also found.

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BC, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in, Xi’an. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. ( from wiki)
  1. protect
  2. third century BC / 3rd century BC
  3. local farmers
  4. soldiers
  5. 150
Vocab Builder
  • to depict =show
  • purpose = aim / function
  • vary = differ
  • warrior = soldier
  • majority = greater part
  • figures = people


Recommended Lessons

IELTS Listening Practice: Sentence Completion
IELTS Listening Practice: Short Answer Questions

IELTS Listening Practice: Table Completion

Table completion in IELTS listening is a common type of question. It can appear in any section of the listening test. Spend time preparing the headings and the predict the missing content of the table. Pay attention to the number of words possible for the answers. This listening exercise is a similar level to section 4 of the listening IELTS test.

After you have prepared the table and the missing answers, listen to the recording and write down the answers as you listen. In the real test, you can listen only once.

Answers are given below. The transcript is also available with the answers so you can check your answers and improve your pronunciation.

Questions 1-5
Write no more than three words for each answer.

Introduced species of the British Isles

Transcript and Answers

Click below to read the transcript and see the answers.


Islands, such as the British Isles, can be adversely affected by the introduction of non-native species. Many species have been introduced to Britain during historical times. Some species have been introduced with no adverse consequences. However, others have had a severe impact both economically and ecologically.

One good example of an invasive species is the gray squirrel which, at the turn of the 20th century, was introduced into South Africa, Ireland, and England from North America. On mainland Britain, it has almost entirely displaced the populations of native red squirrels. Schemes have been introduced to control the population in Ireland to encourage the native red squirrels. In the wild, gray squirrels can be found living in large areas of mature, dense woodland. These forests usually contain large amounts of dense understory vegetation that provides them sufficient amount of food sources and favorable shelters. On very rare occasions, when their usual food sources are scarce, gray squirrels will eat insects and small birds. However, in general gray squirrels exist mainly on nuts and seeds. They even have a high enough tolerance for humans to inhabit residential neighborhoods and are known to raid bird feeders.
Among those species which have been introduced with little harm to the local ecosystem is the rainbow trout which is native only to the rivers and lakes of North America but its value as a hard-fighting game fish and tasty meal has led to its introduction throughout the world. Rainbow trout are gorgeous fish, with coloring and patterns that vary widely depending on habitat, age, and spawning condition. They are members of the salmon family and, like their salmon cousins, can grow quite large. They prefer cool, clear rivers and lakes and survive on insects and small fish.
Adapted from the following sources:,

1. gray squirrel / grey squirrel
2. mature dense woodland / dense woodland / woodland / forest
3. seeds and nuts / nuts and seeds / nuts seeds / seeds nuts
4. rivers and lakes (lakes rivers)
5. insects and fish / insects small fish


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IELTS Listening Practice: Picture Multiple Choice

All Listening Lessons & Tips

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