Listening and Hearing are two different aspects of the detection of sound. Where listening is detecting the voice or sound, interpreting it and processing the information whatever someone communicates. On the other hand, hearing is a process of detection of voice or sound and not interpreting and processing the information.

Now hearing is an easy thing even if there are distractions around but listening becomes a challenge when there are distractions.

Way to prevent yourself from distractions in the IELTS Listening exam:

  • Be an attentive listener: When a candidate appears for the online IELTS Listening test, usually in the first section they are a bit nervous as they gradually get acclimatized to the accent and the information in the audio. In the first section when the speaker is giving out some information, in between the speaker may correct himself just to create a little distraction and the best way to deal with it is to be an attentive listener and keep your ears open to every sentence before inferring anything.
  • Do not jump to conclusions: Most of the time the audio played in the listening exam has a theme based on which the questions are set. You should carefully listen to the full audio before jumping on the conclusions because sometimes the information given in one sentence can be twisted to mean something else, so it’s better to listen to the whole audio piece and then answer the given question.
  • Be aware of the change of information: In some of the audio’s played in the IELTS listening exam, a speaker gives out some information but later on he may realize that given information is inaccurate and he may change the information in between, so it is best to listen to every piece of the information carefully so that you can gather the correct information.

Let’s take an example to understand what kind of changes occur in the audio piece:


The first situation is the booking of the hotel: (Where a man named Kevin calls up a Hotel in Malaysia)

Hotel Desk: Hello, Welcome to Hotel Pacific Regency. How may I help you?

Kevin: Hello, My name is Kevin and I want to book the hotel for 4 nights. Could you tell me the room tariffs?

Hotel Desk: Oh Certainly! Are you looking for a family room/ double room or a single room?

Kevin: I am looking for a family room.

Hotel Desk: Sure. The tariff for a family room with an American meal plan is $120 per night, room with Europan meal plan is $130 per night and a room without any meals is $100 per night.

Kevin: Okay and what are the inclusions? And would there be any concessions?

Hotel Desk: The inclusions of a room with a meal plan will be a room with a window along with a private bathroom, tea/coffee maker, Breakfast and dinner, LED,  Hairdryer a welcome drink. And the room without meal plans includes all except the meals. And there would be a concession of 5% on the rooms having meal plans.

Kevin: Great. What will be the total for the room for 4 nights with an American meal plan?

Hotel Desk: Sure. Let me work out the total for you. It will be $456 for 4 nights.

Kevin: Okay. I would like to book it.

Hotel Desk. Sure. Oh but, I am sorry there was some confusion about the concession. It’s a 10% concession for a room with an American meal plan instead of 5%. My bad. Apologies for that. Let me rework on the total amount.

Kevin: That sounds great, more concession. Please update me on the total.

Hotel Desk: It will be $432 and not $456 for 4 nights.

Kevin: Alright! Please go ahead and reserve a family room with an American meal plan for me.

Hotel Desk: Certainly. Can I have your name, please?

Kevin: It’s Kevin K-E-V-I-N   Nash N-A-S-H.

Hotel Desk: Ok. Please confirm your address.

Kevin: Yes, it’s 3501, Broadway street, Newark, New Jersey 410713

Hotel Desk: Thank You. Just to confirm the last two digits of the zip code is thirty?

Kevin: Oh no, it’s thirteen. The correct zip code is 410713

Hotel Desk: Alright, let me correct it.

Kevin: Wait a minute, how far is the hotel from Petronas Tower?

Hotel Desk: Sir, it’s about 878 meters from the hotel.

Kevin: Wow, It’s nearby.

Hotel Desk: Yes, it’s just 5 mins walk.

And the conversation goes on like this until the hotel booking is done.


If you observe the above-stated example, you will see the information changed in between at three different places which are underlined and are highlighted. So, firstly, you have to be an attentive listener so that you can gather the information. Secondly, be aware of the change in the information in between the sentences. Thirdly, do not right away jump to the answers after hearing some information, wait for the whole statement to end as there may be some change.

All kinds of distractions which are possible are stated especially how thirteen sounds as thirty as their sound is very similar. So, you have to be very careful so that you can identify the correct figures as you can never be sure when these distractions will occur in the audio, you just have to be attentive to identify.

The major distractors or  information change takes place where there are numbers involved such as

  • phone numbers,
  • house numbers,
  •  zip codes,
  •  name of a street,
  •  price of some item,
  •  flight number,
  •  distance between two places,
  •  name of a person

In order to tackle them, look out for the words that indicate mistake such as my mistake, my bad, sorry about that, I got it wrong, I apologize, actually, it is not like that, I missed a number, etc. This will come with practice and to be good at handling the distractions take as many listening tests as you can.