IELTS Listening Diagram Labelling

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Although less common than maps or plans, diagram labelling questions seem to cause IELTS candidates just as many problems in the listening.

In these tasks you are given a diagram and a list of features. You must match the features from the list with the features marked on the diagram. The list always contains additional features which you don’t need to use.


These questions can be tough, especially if you have a long list of features to read through while you are listening. It is therefore important to use your reading time wisely.

In many senses these questions are similar to map or plan labelling, and therefore the strategy is very similar.

Step 1: Look at the Diagram

The first step is to look at the diagram and consider what you are looking at. The diagram could be anything at all – an everyday household item, an animal or an ancient building!

Having identified what the object is, familiarise yourself with the features that are already marked, and the features that you have to match. In particular, you should think about how the recording will refer to the parts that are marked and the parts you are required to label.

This doesn’t just mean identifying that they will talk about a button (for example), but also where that button is in relation to the other parts that are marked (e.g. next to, under, etc.).

Look at the diagram below and identify the parts you will hear about. How will the recording describe the position of the parts in questions 11, 12 and 13.

IELTS Listening Diagram Labelling

You are looking at the controls of a boiler. We can therefore expect words such as switch, dial, button and indicator.

11 may be referred to as the small dial on the left.

12 is likely to be referred to as under the middle dial.

13 appears to be an indicator which may be referred to as under the right-hand dial.

Step 2: Look at the List of Features

In addition to the diagram, before you listen you should read the list of features which you have to choose from.

In some cases you may be able to work out which part of the diagram the features are likely to match to.

Look at the list of features for the diagram above. Can you guess where any of these are likely to match with the diagram?

A electricity indicator

B on/off switch

C reset button

D time control

E warning indicator

Although it may seem most of the answers could be anywhere, 13 looks the most like an indicator. Therefore 13 is likely to be either A or E.

Step 3: Listen and Answer the Questions

You are now ready to listen to the recording.

Remember that the recording will follow the order of the questions (i.e. you will hear about 11 first, followed by 12, etc.).

11. B

12. C

13. E

Step 4: Check Your Answers

As always, make sure you have an answer for every question. If you don’t, at least take a guess. There is no negative marking, so having an answer is always better than no answer.

Don’t re-think the answers you have written. People often lose marks because they got the right answer, but changed their mind afterwards.

When you have an answer to all the questions, start reading the next section.


The listening audio and map used here are taken from Cambridge Academic IELTS 9, which can be purchased here.

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