Brain Drain Listening Practice

This listening lesson has two different types of questions: list selection and sentence completion. This will also test your ability to know when to move from one question to the next. Make sure you use this lesson to also learn useful vocabulary because the brain drain is a common topic in writing task 2.

Questions 1-3

Which three reasons are given for the brain drain? Choose the correct letters A-G.

  • A) money
  • B) promotion opportunities
  • C) working with other professionals
  • D) quality of life
  • E) state-of-the-art equipment
  • F) political advancement
  • G) unemployment

Question 4

What problem does the brain drain cause developing countries? Choose one letter.

  • A) resentment
  • B) loss of facilities
  • C) conflict between remaining professionals
  • D) loss of reputation
  • E) loss of money
  • F) loss of materials

Question 5

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

In 2000, …….. million people, who were living outside their country of origin for more than one year, were employed.

  1. A
  2. D
  3. E (answers to questions 1-3 can be given in any order)
  4. E
  5. 65
Brain drain is the migration of skilled human resources for trade, education, health care and other sectors.  Trained health professionals are needed in every part of the world. However, better standards of living draw many of them to more developed countries. Others decide to make the move because of better remuneration or for access to advanced modern technology.  For some the stable political conditions in the developed countries attract talent from less developed areas. The majority of migration is from developing to developed countries. This is of growing concern worldwide because of its impact on the health care systems in developing countries. These countries have invested in the education and training of young health professionals. This translates into a loss of considerable resources when these people migrate, with the benefit accruing to the recipient states who have not forked out to educate them. The intellectuals of any country are some of the most expensive resources because of their training in terms of material cost and time, and most importantly, because of lost opportunity. In 2000 almost 175 million people, or 2.9% of the world’s population, were living outside their country of birth for more than a year. Of these, about 65 million were economically active.  This form of migration has in the past involved many health professionals: nurses and physicians have sought employment abroad for many reasons including high unemployment in their home country. ( read more about this)



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  1. Tricky excercise 3/5 thanks for explaining the answer to questions 5

  2. Shivam Gupta says

    Hello Ma’am
    Thank You for an amazing site.
    This was to inform you that unlike other Audios, there’s an issue in playing the ‘Brain Drain Listening Practice’ Audio.
    If you can kindly help?

    • Review carefully very link on this page: You will soon pick up technique which must include awareness – you need to open your eyes to the difference between matching words and matching meaning. You will learn what to aim for and what to avoid. Awareness comes through extensive practice, where you review and think about what you got particular answers wrong, and not from just a two minute tip.

  3. Hi Liz ,
    Thanks for the nice work. I will like to know why the answer to question 5 is not 175 million ? regards,Prosper

    • You are getting confused with the clause in the sentence. In 2000, …….. million people, [who were living outside their country of origin for more than one year], were employed. = In 2000, ….. million people were employed.
      This is really testing your grammar!! 🙂

  4. maryam bajwa says

    It was tricky. I got just one answer correct.

  5. Thanks Liz i was able to get 2 over 5 at my first listening !

  6. Shaheena Shibu says

    Thank you Liz, this listening test was really challenging. Your lessons helped me a lot to improve my English skills.

  7. Marina Safronova says

    Hello Liz! Do you think it is appropriate to use “brain drain” in Writing 2, if the topic is connected with it, isn’t it informal?

    • It is certainly not informal – it is not slang. It is completely fine to use in any IELTS writing task 2 essay. It is a common term which is used whenever talking about this issue.

  8. Please madam can I use my textbooks and notes while wrinting the ielts exam?

    • IELTS is a language test with international standards. You can take pen, pencil and eraser into the test room.

  9. Thank you, Liz. Very challenging

  10. Dear Liz!
    First of all, thanks very much for your altruistic help, it’s being very useful for a lot of us.
    With regards to this exercise, I’d like to know why the response “political advancement” is not chosen. There is a sentence which mentions the stable political conditions, and I think is related to the question asked.
    Could you let me know why is this one incorrect?
    Thanks in advance!
    Best regards and have a nice weekend.

    • You need to think more carefully about the meaning of “political advancement”. This is about a person who works in politics trying to advance their career. It is not about political stability or political conditions. They are two completely different things. IELTS listening is really testing both your listening skills and your deeper understanding of vocabulary and English in general.

  11. Mayur Mukkawar says

    Thank you Liz for your great support for us. You are such a nice person I ever meet. your website is damn good,I love it.

  12. I got only 2. Do I need to repeat this to get or go to next exercise?
    Hoping for your reply.

    • It’s your choice. You can use this lesson to develop listening skills or note taking skills or vocabulary – you are an independent learner and it is your responsibility to get as much as possible from each lesson.

  13. Hi Liz!
    It was the toughest.. but to make myself competent I will be needing more of such listening exercises. I was only able to answer the D for Q1 at the first attempt. Can you please upload more material like this one??

  14. Pooja Kansal says

    Hello, Liz

    I found A and D options for the first question but i am not able to find E. please tell me where it is ?

    • E is the only option that is mentioned in question 4: “The intellectuals of any country are some of the most expensive resources because of their training in terms of material cost and time, and most importantly, because of lost opportunity.”

  15. Mohammed Ali says

    thanks so much brilliant Liza

  16. Omme_hashmi says

    And Can u plzzzzz tel me why u wrote the answers like
    1) A
    2) D
    3) E
    Shouldn’t it be written like that A, D, E

    • The three letters are not for one question. The three letters are for three questions (questions 1, 2 and 3). This means one letter per question = one letter in one answer box on the answer sheet. Always pay attention to this or you will get all following answers marked wrong because they are on the wrong box.

  17. hi liz,
    your lessons are really helpful. here i have doubt with the exact meaning of state-of-the-art equipment. could you please explain it for me.

    thank you so much…


  18. hey liz , i have a query regarding question 4, there is no instruction for question 4 whether we will have to choose a letter or write a full answer like for question 1-3 there is clear instruction to choose a letter but there is no such instruction for question 4, kindly help in this regard
    thanks and regards

    • Well spotted!! 🙂 That won’t happen in your IELTS test. The instructions are always written very clearly.

  19. Faraz Imam says

    Dear Liz,

    Wonderful job done! very helpful lessons. Stay blessed and Thank you

  20. Hello Liz,
    Thank you so much for your kind works. Each of your lessons is very helpful for me.
    I’m having a problem with only one questions of this lesson.Could you please tell me why the answer “E” is right for question 3 ?
    Thanks 🙂

    • loss of money: “these people migrate, with the benefit accruing to the recipient states who have not forked out to educate them” This means that the country pays for their education but then loses the people who migrate. Also “In 2000 almost 175 million people, or 2.9% of the world’s population, were living outside their country of birth for more than a year. Of these, about 65 million were economically active. “. This shows that people living outside their country are economically active. Don’t look for just synonyms – look for meaning.

  21. Hi Liz,

    For Question 4 I feel even loss of materials, that is F is correct(in fact it can be taken directly from the passage read) while E has to be inferred ( I guess from the line that says something like “A lot has been invested …”.). Why is the answer E and not F?

    Thank you for your time.

    • The answer is found:
      The intellectuals of any country are some of the most expensive resources because of their training in terms of material cost and time, and most importantly, because of lost opportunity. In 2000 almost 175 million people, or 2.9% of the world’s population, were living outside their country of birth for more than a year. Of these, about 65 million were economically active.
      It does not mention anything about materials losses – they didn’t lose equipment or anything material. They only refer to material costs.

  22. Dear Liz, I love your lessons, especially the listening or reading parts which you professionally connect to the writing tasks. It’s awesome. I am learning many things. Thank you so much!

  23. ANKITPAREKH says

    HI LIZ,


    • “political advancement” means someone who wants to advance their own political career, such as a politician.

  24. Hi Liz
    U r amazingly great!! Ur method of explaing makes u different from others. I always look for ur lesson firstly in case of need.
    God bless
    Thank n regards

  25. Tanisha says

    Dear Liz,
    Your website if really tremendous. One clarification for me- answer of Q5 was the number of people who were unemployed. From the recording, we found that 65 million was economically active (Opposite of unemployed). So, I thought the answer would be 175-65=110 million. Could you please clarify?


  26. sheetal bob srikant says

    Hi Liz
    Amazing practise sessions. I have benefitted greatly. Thank you so much.
    God bless.

    Warm regards

  27. Hi liz I would like to know which is the best way to score 8 in all band. What would be your advice?

    • 1. Develop band scores for each type of question in listening, reading, speaking and writing. This means going through each type very carefully.
      2. Develop paraphrasing skills for listening and reading. This means making a list of all paraphrases used in all exercises you do.
      3. Understand vocabulary more deeply. This means learn more about collocations and when words can or can’t be used.
      4. Learn about the requirements for band scores 5 to 8 in writing and speaking. You need to learn why band scores go down and why they go up. Learn what the examiner is looking for:
      5. The key to band 8 in speaking and writing is not only an excellent range of grammar and vocabulary but also a lack of errors. The majority of your sentences need to be error free.
      This will start you on the right track.

  28. Hello Mrs Liz, Thank you so much for everything you do to help us improve our English level.
    I noticed that some people were confused about some answers but the one that caused me trouble is G. I wonder if this sentence ” Nurses and physicians have sought employment abroad for many reasons including high unemplyment in their home country” doesn’t mean that unemployment is one of the reasons for the brain drain?
    Many thanks

    • Hi, Liz!

      Thanks a lot for nice tips and for your lessons. You do a great job for us who wants to improve the IELTS scores. Honestly, this lesson was a little bit difficult for me but could manage it.
      Just one request is it possible to underline the key words, phrases,sentences in the transcript. I think it helps to understand the right answers for those who cannot get it. Or just a brief explanation for each answer.

      Thanks in advance.
      Kind regards,

  29. Hey Liz
    I have found this website very helpful!!
    Liz , loss of concentration has become my difficulty while I listen…what will be your advise on “concentration ”

    Stay Blessed !!!

    • The only option is practice and more practice until you are accustomed to concentrating for longer periods of time. Remember that the tst is 2 hour 40 mins without a break. So make sure you do a full test and develop your concentration before your test.
      All the best

  30. Hello Miss.Liz ,

    thank u so much 4 useful lessons , but I have a note : u said before that we should not understand every thing just looking for the answers , I agree with u , but I think in this station 2 & 4 , I think we will not answer well if we don’t understand all the passage , because there is just a keys answers , Am I aright ?

    thank u again

  31. Liz, could you please explain why answer to 5th question is ’65’ and not ‘about 65’.
    In the record and transcript it is read/said “about 65 million”.

    In other materials on your site, in similar questions proper answer almost always includes additional word, usually “about”.
    In my opinion, when we talk about people it’s very unlikely that the number was exactly 65,000,000, so the “about” shall be used there.

    What do you think?

  32. mohamed ahmed besha says

    in question 1 , why E is correct , i didn’t find it in transcript
    also , i why answer for Q4 is E , in the audio ” loss of considerable resources” that means the correct answer is B

    • Question 1 E: “for access to advanced modern technology”. This shows that state of the art equipment is a reason. In question 4, the word resources does not mean facilities. You can see what the countries lose: “The intellectuals of any country are some of the most expensive resources because of their training in terms of material cost and time”.
      All the best

  33. Sorry for bothering you again, but I have another question which I cannot find the satisfied answer on the internet. I, therefore, ask you for another favor. Could you explain why the phrase “… their country of birth…” is used instead of “…their countries of birth…”?

  34. Would you please review the structure: “This is of growing concern…”? As I heard in the audio, the sentence is “This is a growing concern…”. I am not sure I heard it right but I think the second one is more reasonable. Could you clarify it, please?

  35. this is so much confusing, all the answers are different, I heard the audio two times and then read the transcript but still confuse with the options given. Because in audio, I didn’t hear any of the words which are in answer list.

    Please explain this Teacher liz

    • Sorry but it means that you need to to find a teacher to help you. The answer key and transcript should be enough. The issue probably lies with your level of English which might be too limited for this level of listening.

  36. Hi Liz,

    In one of my practice listing test,which Is NOT MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER,one question was date of birth and recording said 31st March 1972.
    So it it correct if write answer as 31-March-1972 all attached with ‘ -‘.


    • If it states “and/or a number” you can’t have two numbers. If it states “and/or numbers” you can have both.

    • Hi Liz!

      My question is about the IELTS Listening

      when i listened the answer from recording it was 4th of NOVEMBER
      I WROTE THE ANSWER as i listen,i.e 4th November

      but when i checked my answer from the answer key it was 4 NOVEMBER


      • It is still right.

        • THX

        • Hi Liz i hope u will b fine !

          My Question is about the listening part while i attempting the Cambridge IELTS 3 WRITE NO MORE THAN 3 WORDS!

          When i listened the recording then i wrote the answer as “house wives”
          but when i checked it from the answer key that was there as aggregated one word .i.e housewives

          whether it would b wrong or right?

          if wrong then what is the criteria to know about when tow difference words will use as one word in aggregation ?

          • Please google information about compound nouns with and without hyphens. Some compound nouns are written as one word and some as two words and some with a hyphen joining them. This is an English test and it is testing your understanding of this. You need to google this information and learn it.
            All the best

  37. Whoaaaaa haha

    I could get 2 answers correct from 1-4 and that too because of my accounting/finance mind. 😀

    Question 5 is easy if we listen attentively.

    Thanks a lot Liz. Be Blessed !

  38. Mayur Kathiriya says

    In question 1-3 , If i got two right of three, how much marks i will get? I mean it is required to have all answer right to get marks in this type of questions?


    • Each question is worth one point. So questions 1 to 3 – 3 points. If you only got 2 correct out of 3, you will get 2 points.
      All the best

  39. Muhammed Shamsuddin says

    Hi Liz . It’s a little bit difficult for me as i could not guess any answer first time after hearing several times . After all you a excellent teachers . Many many thanks for helping us . I am so great full to you .

  40. I’m disappointed, My exam is on 12th of September and I need 6.5
    I’m a good speaker and I got band 7 in speaking section last exam,but 🙁
    I don’t have time to study the rest I do not know wt to do
    For instance, why it is 65 not 175 in Q5 ? I can’t catch such questions 🙁

    • Q5 is 65 because “65 million were economically active” which is about being employed. Read the information in the sentence and underline key words before you listen.

  41. hii Liz,
    I did not understand why the answer E for the 3rd question. In between, thanks a lot for such a wonderful site to learn IELTS.

    • See this sentence: Others decide to make the move because of better remuneration or for access to advanced modern technology.
      All the best

  42. hi liz, why the ans of Q.4 is E not B (loss of oportunities )

    • Because there is no mention of facilities. Opportunities means chance, it does not mean equipment. But it does clearly show that there is a loss of money.
      All the best

  43. Daniel Jaime says

    Hi Liz!

    You’re an angel sent from heaven!

    You are making IELTS easier for us. We hope to get our realistic score with all your help!

    Many thanks and more power!

  44. Hi Liz,
    GOD BLESS YOU HEART!Thank you very much ! I will for sure.

  45. Hi Liz,
    I could not find any information in the text supporting for the choice A in question 1-3. Please help me clear!
    Thanks a lot!

    • The key is in these words “because of better remuneration…”
      All the best

      • kristina pamela says

        Hi liz! this is a very good type of listening practice though i find it difficult but it is very realistic because we should be prepared for this kind of questions in Ielts, Please post more of this kind so we can study and practice more. Please please.
        Thank you! Your website is very helpful.

        • Yes, this is a challenging listening practice. Check my listening page for more listening exercises and I’ll post more over time.
          Glad my site is useful 🙂

  46. Hi Liz,
    I need a score of 7 to be admitted to University.Please any suggestions…Do I have to enroll in a class base?

    • You can practice your skills on this blog or find more in-depth training. I have just opened my IELTS online course but there is only one lesson on writing task 2 available at present. More will be added this summer: Alternatively, you can find a local teacher to help you.
      All the best

  47. Hi,
    My name is Azam i am from India.
    Your practice topics are fantastic and support me lot to impro my listening.But in some topic cannot find audio,i onlyu get to see souncloud which i cannot play.


    • Sorry, unfortunately, the audio for some lessons are sound cloud audios. I don’t have them available in other forms.
      All the best

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