This is my selection of the best free practice listening sites for IELTS on the internet. Not all of these are tests are exactly formatted to the IELTS exam but they are excellent for practising your listening skills. The idea is that one of the best ways to improve your IELTS listening is to work on your general listening skills. TED talks can be great practice as can the BBC and VOA sites.
Before you go there may I suggest you check out these pages and resources:
This is the place to start if you haven’t found the test questions already. There aren’t many of them but they will give you an idea of what the test questions are really like.
This is easily the best quality IELTS listening practice on the web – apart from the materials from IELTS itself. The quality is 100%. If you are looking for more extensive practice then you won’t go far wrong by paying for the further practice tests advertised at English Practice Tests. They come highly recommended. Below I link to just one of their exercises – try them all.
practice 1 – a form filling exercise
English Exam Ninja
This is a site recommended below in the comments. There is a good deal of practice here helpfully organised by task type and skills such as listening for synonyms. Click through a few links and you’ll find more:
This is great site for learners and is worth exploring generally. Part of the bonus here is that the courses and exercises are graded by level -something that you don’t normally find in IELTS online. There are quite a few very good IELTS materials here and try this listening practice as a start before you explore more. It’s meant to be quite tough:
Once you’ve done that try their full suite of IELTS materials here:
This is a very interesting site to explore. It is very interactive with lots of point and click exercises. I believe these can have real value when done well – and here they are excellent. The only points to note are that there are comparatively few IELTS formatted exercises.
This comes from one of the major publishing houses and you can download listening material from their website
This is a quality site with some short listening practice. To navigate to the listening all you have to do is click on the headphones icon
BBC 6 minute English
This is a fantastic resource for IELTS listening – don’t worry too much that the listening isn’t IELTS – it’s still good practice. There is a huge database of listening podcasts on different subjects which come with typescripts and linked reading texts. This is my explanation of how you can use this resource.
The BBC is an excellent resource for listening and you can also try these resources on their Learning English site:
Lingohack: short news stories with transcript. This is excellent just for listening and understanding.
Words in the News: a similar series now ended but with a huge archive
Voice of America
Like the BBC site this is just for general learning and general listening based on news stories – bonus you get an American accent!
Randall”s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
This is another site with lots of listening practice. Further down the page you will find resources for TOEIC and TOEFL, two exams similar to IELTS.
An excellent site altogether. You will find good advice and exercises on academic listening with a particular emphasis on note-taking. The exercises here are not formatted IELTS listening but the skills you will be using are much the same.
Here you will need to enter details to get the free IELTS listening practice.
TED – of course
Video is a great way to practice your listening skills. The benefit of the TED is that – unlike most videos – you get an interactive transcript too that you can follow as you listen. The listenings here are similar to the listenings you get in IELTS listening part 4. A sensible suggestion is to look for talks that are on a general topic and under 6 minutes in length and have an interactive transcript. Take this one for example on biodiversity:
Please let me know if any of these sites “disappears” or you find some good listening practice elsewhere on the net you want to recommend. Many of the sites I originally posted here – from major publishing houses – have now withdrawn all their free material.