When predicting what we will hear in the IELTS listening test, we must understand context.

What is context?

When doing the listening section of the IELTS, it helps to have an idea of who the people are that are talking, what they’re saying and why. This information is called context. Without these details, you will not be able to understand the topic. And this information will not be included on the test paper.

Before each part of the listening test, you will be given 30-45 seconds to look at the questions. Use this time to try and predict what you might hear.

In the recording below, there are introductions to four IELTS listening sections. Before listening, predict the content by reading the questions in the table below. Choose FOUR answers from the table labeled “Contexts” and match them with each section. Write down your answers on a piece of paper to keep track.


Now listen to the recording to decide how many speakers you will hear in each section. Listen for who the speakers will be. On a piece of paper, write down your answers.

Answer Key:

1. When predicting context, we should look for keywords. For section 1 the key words are “guests,” “invitations,” “Bride,” and “groom.” From this information we can surmise that the context is C., planning a wedding. The recording says that a woman and a wedding planner are organizing the event. We can expect to hear a conversation between 2 people, a woman and a wedding planner.

2. For section 2, we can see the words “students” and “homework,” therefore, the context must be B., discussing an assignment. The recording says we will hear two students talking about their assignment, so the answer is 2 people, 2 students.

3. In the question for section 3 we see the words, “dress,” “sale,” and “shoes.” The context must be F., shopping for clothes. The recording says we will hear a woman explaining her decisions while shopping, so the answer is 1 person, a woman.

4. In question 4, we see the words “train tickets,” and below we see the vocabulary word “itinerary.” (行程). From this, we know that the context must be E., planning a business trip. The recording says that we will listen to a man planning his business trip, so the answer is 1 person, a man.

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