We received a great question from a candidate who wanted to know if the spelling must always be correct in the listening and reading tests. Many people ask this.

The short answer is yes. If they spell the word in the listening test or it appears in writing in the listening test or reading test then the spelling MUST be perfect.

Sometimes the answer sheet will show alternative spellings but those cases usually refer to British or American spelling of words (both are allowed). Most words required as answers are usually simple words that candidates are expected to be able to spell without too much trouble.

The answer sheet is the final judge. If the spelling of the word(s) does not exactly match what is on the answer sheet, it will be marked wrong. This might sound unfair, but it is actually done to make sure the test is administered fairly all over the world.

IELTS Listening Test: Form Filling & The Answer Sheet

Form filling is usually one of the easier tasks and is often found in SECTION 1 of the Listening Test but there are a few things to be careful about.

When the speaker spells a word, like a name or an address, you must get it perfectly correct, just one letter wrong and the answer will be marked wrong.
Units on distances, times and especially money can also be a problem.

An example of the “unit problem” is question 8 in the test today. You had to write down how much the articles were worth BUT … did you notice that the question booklet (well, just a question page, in this case) already had the “£” sign written on it?

So if you wrote 1700 as the answer, you would be correct. But if you wrote “£1700” on the answer sheet you would be wrong.

In contrast, if you left the unit of measurement OFF the answers to questions 4 and 5, and just wrote “75” instead of “75 cm” as the answer to question 4 you would have been marked wrong.

You must look very carefully to see how the question is written to know how to write the answer.

This really only becomes a problem when you must write your answers onto the answer sheet that is provided in the exam. During the listening test you should write ALL your answers on the question paper. At the end of the test you will have 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet and this is where the problems happen.

I make all my students transfer their answers to an answer sheet, even when we are only doing a short practice like the 8 questions in today’s listening task. You should do the same so you get a lot of experience with this BEFORE you ever go into the exam.

Another problem is that candidates miss a line and transfer their answers into the wrong positions. When this happens ALL answers written in the wrong position, even if they are correct, are marked wrong. You MUST be careful when transferring your answers to the answer sheet.

Official answer sheets are available on many websites including the ielts.org website but I have put one here for you so you don’t have to search:

IELTS Listening Answer Sheet


IELTS Listening Test: Form Filling

Start the recording and look at the diagram which you have to fill in. DO NOT look at the diagram first – there is a gap just after the introduction in the recording to allow time to look at the form. You should not pause the recording and you should play it only once to get an idea of how good your listening skill really is.

This “form filling” type question is typically a section 1 task in the listening test.

Email IELTS English for the script and solutions.

IELTS Listening Task: Form Filling

The source for this test is Cambridge ESOL at www.ielts.org

Cambridge ESOL has a lot of authentic IELTS material on the website although it can be difficult to find at times. This is a great resource as it is very important to practice with material that is the same as you will experience in the test.