IELTS Listening: Short Answer Questions

Prepare the questions below by underlining keywords and paraphrasing before you listen to the recording.

Reading City Travel Information

Questions 1-3

Answer using no more than two words and/or a number.

1. How long is the journey from Heathrow to Reading by express bus?
2. On the intercity from Paddington, which stop is Reading?
3. How long is the train journey from London to Reading?


  1. AN HOUR
    The length of time is given “it takes….”. It is common to be given two numbers in the same sentence – one number is the length and the other number is the frequency – pay attention to that and don’t get confused. The word “about” can’t be used due to the word limit.
  3. 30 MINS / 30 MINUTES (it is best to write numbers as digits rather than words – this avoids spelling mistakes which can cause you to lose a point)
There are a number of ways to get to Reading if that is your destination. If you are arriving by air the nearest airport is Heathrow and from there you can take the Railair express bus which runs every 20 mins and takes about an hour. Another London airport near Reading is Gatwick which is about 50 mins away by car or you could take the hourly train from the South Terminal which takes about 75mins. From London, you should travel from London Paddington station if you want to get to Reading and catch an intercity train. You should get off at the first stop. There are several trains running each hour and the travel time is about 30mins. ( information from wiki)

You notice that I use all capital letters when I write my answers – this is the best way to write your answers for both reading and listening. See the IELTS Exam FAQ page for more information about IELTS



  1. Hello liz
    I really can not understand why my questions are getting deleted and no response for them as well.
    I also like any other students who put their questions or appreciation, had some queries. But i do not know really what is the problem?
    I would be grateful if you reply me please.

    • I work alone, I am sick and I am not able to answer everyone. I also don’t offer a question/answer service. When I feel well, I answer some comments – that’s all. Please read the HOME page to learn how to use my website appropriately. Thanks.

  2. Hello Liz,
    I recently came across a listening task that stated the following as the instruction before one of the sections, “Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer”. I then proceeded to answer some questions which had numbers as their answers, but wrote those answers in word from (for example fifteen, eight am, five), Upon submitting my work, those questions were marked wrong. I just wanted to know if in fact the format in which i answered those questions was wrong given the instructions I was given.


  3. Hi Liz,

    I’ve finished all the listening tips. I had missed many questions but I feel much improvement now and got confidence in me. And I’ll do rest of the lessons further.

    Thanks a million for all of those hard works free for us.

  4. Spandan Krishna says

    Hey Liz! I must thank you. I have prepared for ILETS in your website, within 7 days itself I was able to crack band 7 in the main test.
    Thanks a million. I am going to australia for my masters now. Take care of your website and your beautiful health.

    • That’s great news!! Very well done 🙂 I really hope you enjoy Australia. I’ve heard it’s a friendly. welcoming country 🙂 Wishing you all the best out there 🙂

  5. Mohammed Ismael says

    Hi Liz, I didn’t get the second answer

    • See this part of the transcript: “from London Paddington station if you want to get to Reading and catch an intercity train. You should get off at the first stop.”

  6. I have been practicing some Listening practice tests from Cambridge Official Guide to IELTS book (For Academic & General Training) and I am kind of confuse on how to answer short answer questions. The book does have the answer key and I am not certain what does answers in brackets mean. For example: The answer to below question (No more than two word type) according to the answer key at the back of the book was : (the) radio

    How did you hear about the club?

    I am not too sure what the brackets mean. I have specifically noticed that pattern in these types of listening questions. Any chance you know what that could mean? Does bracket indicate that its optional to mention that in an answer? OR Generally speaking, what should be the correct answer to this question, “the radio” or just “radio”.

    Thank you and I would really appreciate any advice on this.


  7. Most examinees like to write down the answer of listening and reading section in upper case. Suppose, the answer of a question is: “working”. Many will write it: “WORKING”. but if I write the first letter in upper case and the remaining letters of the word in lower case, that is, “Working”, will it be considered incorrect? Will I loose mark?

  8. Thank you so much Liz I’ve finished all your practice exercises and found myself improved.

  9. Dear mam,

    This is to let you know that, this listening lesson is incorrectly listed in the “Practice Lessons for Reading Skills” section, of the page “”.

    I thought it would be a good idea to let you know about this, so that this could be fixed.

    Thanking you, for your wonderful lessons and your kind heart to share these for free !!!

  10. 30 ‘ could be correct?

  11. Thank you Liz for your valuable information on the site and in youtube. I have scored 7.5 band overall and L-7, R-8.5 W-7 S-7.5

  12. Hello Liz,

    Would you mind clearing my confusion I’ve had for many days? It is regarding an upper case and lower case for each start of an answer. For example, at every beginning of a short answer, should I write “about 1 hour” or “About 1 hour”?

  13. Hi liz
    It written not more that 2 words but the answer you mentioned is ‘about 1 hour’ aren’t its 3 words. Please correct if wrong

  14. sharan thota says

    Hey Liz,
    1. 1hr
    2. 1st
    3. 30mins
    if i answer in this manner are they correct?

  15. You must be an angel Liz

  16. Yasir Ali says

    Hi Liz
    First thank you very much for your valuable and useful lessons. It helped me a lot.
    My question is:
    In this practice, the instructions said that no more than two words and/or numbers
    Your answer for question is About 1 hour
    Can you elaborate how this goes with the instructions?
    Thanks in advance

  17. Hai Mam,
    Is it possible to write “an hour” in the first question?
    I am a beginner in IELTS. my exam is sheduled on july 7th.
    Is it possible for achieving a band 7 with this limited time period?

    • Always write the words you hear – never paraphrase.

      • Klint Gino Cutarra says

        My result(s) – I have the same issue as Ann amongst all questions. Lesson is not to paraphrase and be mindful of the instruction(s).

        Thanks Liz and more powers!

  18. Hi Liz,

    ‘Hourly’… is that a possible answer to question 3?
    Kindly help.

    Regards n Best wishes.

  19. Dear Liz,
    Thanks a lot for your help, not only for me but for thousands students, who are preparing themselves for the IELTS Exam and they are searching for materials. Specially for listening which represents a big difficulty and challenge for most of us.
    We appreciate it a lot

  20. thank to your lessons, I can improve my IELTS skills day by day.
    It’s really an useful site. Thanks a million!

  21. Thanx mam..its really helpful for me

  22. Hi Liz,
    Is it okay to write all the answers in capitals for listening section.

  23. Dear Liz , I looove your videos , I found them very helpful and enjoyable …i have tried few times Toefl test but after I could not get the right score for the listening part and I have decided to try IELTS . I feel more comfortable with this type of test now and I enjoy studying more than before for Toefl. Do you give any tutoring sessions or Skype lessons , I would love to get in touch with you …thanks so much for everything you do , you are awesome …love your gorgeous smile by the way !

    Justina Salma

  24. Hi Ms. Liz
    For the first question, I answered “an hour” instead of “1 hour”, will it be fine?

    • You should write only what you hear. I have altered it to make it clearer and more accurate. Well spotted.
      All the best

      • In other listening tests I have been taking in your webpage, there has been answers that are not exactly the ones that I hear but taken out of logic. For example the one where I had to answer a girl`s nationality, I wrote Spain and the answer was “Spanish”, while what I heard was Spain. This confuses me..

        • As the word “Spain” is a country and not a nationality, it has to be changed. This is a rare exception to the rule.

  25. Ravinder Deol says

    Hi Liz Greetings of the day . My problem is in the speaking module , its not that i don’t understand anything or have no ideas. i have the problem of pauses in between ‘ kindly suggest me in which way i can get rid of my Hickup ? It would really hepl in smothing my flow.

    • Firstly, develop plenty of ideas so that you have them ready to give. Secondly, practice speaking outloud at home. You can’t prepare speaking on paper. So start answering questions on your own and record your answers. Thirdly, ask the examiner to repeat the question is you need time to think (you can do this a few times without it affecting your score). Lastly, use fillers “what I mean is” or “what I’m trying to say is”. But the most important way to fix this is through practice:
      All the best

  26. supandeep singh hallan says

    mam this is the best site because I’m working so its difficult to attend coaching classes but ur work is excellent because you touched the each and every sphere of weakness usually faced by students. Thanks for ur help. Thanks

  27. Noha Faisal says

    Hi Liz, i really appreciate your effort , this website is really useful to practice for the exam ,, i wish to get 6.5 and above in the IELTS exam and i am not sure ultimately about my skills in the listening and reading exam ,, BTW i am studying by myself (without taking any courses ) can u advice me plzz
    And thankss

    • Work on writing a list of paraphrases which you have learned from all the listening and reading exercises. The more you know and the more you can spot, the better. Also develop techniques for each type of question for listening and reading. Also do practice tests to build speed and concentration.
      All the best

  28. Sorry to say this some of the audio clippings are not at all audible,for this reason I cud not able to hear am loosing the mark.can u do any necessary changes .thank u.

  29. Hello mam
    For the first question I have written “an hour “instead about hour will this be correct …????

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