Skip to main content
Changes to the IELTS Listening Exam – January 2020

Changes to the IELTS Listening Exam – January 2020

(40 votes)




Starting from January 4th this year, Cambridge have made THREE changes to the paper-based Listening test format.

What are the changes?

1. There will no longer be any page numbers on the question paper.

2. The word “sections” will be changed to “parts”.

3. There will no longer be an example played at the start of Part 1.


How do these changes affect me?

The first two are very minor, and are just about the language in the instructions.

For example, before, you would hear: 

‘Now turn to Section 2, on Page 4.’

But in the new test, you’ll just hear 

‘Now turn to Part 2’

That’s literally all that’s changed, so nothing to worry about there! 


But the third change, removing the example in Part 1, is a bit more significant.

Firstly, in the past, you could use the example answer to check the volume on your headset, but now you’ll need to do this while you listen to the test instructions.

If you have any problem with hearing the recording clearly, you should raise your hand and ask for help.

Secondly, in the past, while listening to the example, many students used the time (around 30 seconds) to look ahead at the questions later on in the test. 

But now without the example, you’ll need to start listening carefully for the first answer as soon as the instructions finish. 


Fortunately however, the rest of the test is exactly the same, and these changes mean the paper-based test now has the same format as the computer-delivered test.

So, the changes shouldn’t affect your score at all, but it’s good to be aware of them because many of the practice tests you see will still use the old format.

For more detailed information, instruction, and strategy for the Listening Test, check out our IELTS Explained video course here.


Related IELTS tips


IELTS Practice free materials for listening

Below are some free materials you can practice online: TV shows from the

Listening Tips6,628

How to Do Flow Chart Type of Questions in IELTS Listening?

You may come across flow chart type of questions in IELTS listening exam,

Listening Tips55,022

IELTS mock test listening

There are 40 questions altogether. Each question carries one mark. For each

Listening Tips70,171

Tips for IELTS listening

Tips for IELTS listening 1. Be prepared for varying speaker speeds and

Listening Tips13,717

10 techniques for IELTS Listening

1. MAKE SURE YOU SPELL YOUR ANSWER CORRECTLY Your answer will be marked as

Listening Tips21,322

Most popular IELTS tips


How to Do MCQ Type of Questions in ILETS Listening?

Did you notice a spelling error in this article title? Yes, you are right

Listening Tips43,649

How to fetch high marks in listening test?


Listening Tips62,523

Three things you must get right in IELTS Listening

1. MAKE NOTES AS YOU LISTEN Imagine that you are listening for the

Listening Tips97,999

5 Penalty Areas for Indian Students in IELTS Listening

Since Indian students are writing and speaking in English with Indian

Listening Tips62,208

378 High Frequency Words in IELTS Listening

School a. Library 1. Shelf 2. Librarian 3. The stacks 4.

Listening Tips243,839