IELTS Listening Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple choice questions are a common task for the third section of the IELTS listening, although they can appear in any part.

Although we will look at these questions together, there are two distinct types of questions.

In one type, you are presented with the first half of a sentence, and three possible endings. The other type takes the form of a question, and you must choose from three possible answers.

These questions can vary a lot in difficulty, but mainly for two reasons. Firstly, these questions and their answers can be quite long, involving a lot of reading. Secondly, in part three, these questions may ask about what the two (or more) speakers agree on. This is trickier because the answer will be found in what both speakers say.

Additionally, there is the common problem in listening of identifying when you should move to the next sentence.

Strategy

Like all IELTS listening tasks, there are strategies we can employ to help us answer multiple choice questions easily.

Step 1: Read the Questions

There isn’t anything useful to read in the instructions for multiple choice questions so we can go straight to the questions. While we read, the important thing is to identify key words.

For each ‘question’, you will see either the beginning of a sentence or a question. Some of these words will be said in the recording. If you can identify and underline these words, you will know when to move on. You don’t need to identify a keyword in the first question, as you will be listening for this answer from the beginning of the recording.

The answers or sentence endings will be paraphrased from the audio. It is still useful to read these before listening. The answers may not be mentioned in the order of the recording.

The other key word to note is ‘agree’. If this word is in the sentence or question, both speakers must agree.

Practice

Read the questions and identify the key words. Then check your answers.

Planning a Presentation on Nanotechnology

21. Russ says that his difficulty in planning the presentation is due to
A his lack of knowledge about the topic.
B his uncertainty about what he should try to achieve.
C the short time that he has for preparation.

22. Russ and his tutor agree that his approach in the presentation will be
A to concentrate on how nanotechnology is used in one field.
B to follow the chronological development of nanotechnology.
C to show the range of applications of nanotechnology.

23. In connection with slides, the tutor advises Russ to
A talk about things that he can find slides to illustrate.
B look for slides to illustrate the points he makes.
C consider omitting slides altogether.

24. They both agree that the best way for Russ to start his presentation is
A to encourage the audience to talk.
B to explain what Russ intends to do.
C to provide an example.

25. What does the tutor advise Russ to do next while preparing his presentation?
A summarise the main point he wants to make
B read the notes he has already made
C list the topics he wants to cover

21. Russ says that his difficulty in planning the presentation is due to

22. Russ and his tutor agree that his approach in the presentation will be

23. In connection with slides, the tutor advises Russ to

24. They both agree that the best way for Russ to start his presentation is

25. What does the tutor advise Russ to do next while preparing his presentation?

Step 2: Listen and Write the Answers

The next step is to listen to the recording and attempt to answer the questions. Remember to move on when you hear the key word you have identified.

Hearing Agreement

Some questions will ask you to identify which point the speakers agree on. This may go something like this:

A: What are you writing your essay about?

B: Well, they said we could write about any of the topics on the list they gave us. I didn’t like the sound of Topic A. Topic B sounded quite interesting though.

A: Really? I thought Topic A sounded really fascinating, but Topic B seemed like it had the most scope for an essay.

B: You’re right. And topic C looked the most interesting, but I’m just not sure there is enough there for an essay.

In the above few sentences we can see that speakers A and B have agreed on one point – that Topic B is the best choice for their essay. We know this because one speaker has made a comment, and the other speaker has agreed.

With these questions, you need to listen very attentively. When you hear a speaker make a comment that matches one of the options, you need to listen for the agreement from the other speaker.

Dealing with Distractors

For each question, there are three possible answers. All three of these are likely to be mentioned in some way in the recording. This means that two of these are simply here to distract you from the correct answer.

Sometimes the correct answer will be very clear. Sometimes it will be easy to hear that one of the distractors is wrong. Since the others will be more difficult, we should capitalise on these easy answers where we can.

One way to do this is to use the following system:

If you hear an answer you are 95% sure is correct, circle the letter. Great, if you are this sure, you may as well move to the next question.

If you hear an answer that is clearly not correct, cross out the letter. Keep listening for the right answer. If you have to guess at the end, at least you can eliminate these answers.

If you hear an answer but you are not sure, underline the letter. Keep listening. There is a good chance you are right, but you have not committed to it yet in case a better answer comes up.

Practice

Listen to the recording and attempt to answer the questions.

21. B

22. A

23. C

24. C

25. A

Step 3: Check Your Answers

Once the recording finishes, check you have an answer to each question. If you don’t, make sure you guess an answer.

If you used the tips above, you will have already eliminated answers that you think are wrong.

Once you have an answer to all the questions, start reading the next set.

Acknowledgement

The listening audio and multiple choice questions used here are taken from Cambridge Academic IELTS 13, which can be purchased here.

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