This is the next in my series of free practice listening for IELTS. This time I am focussing on part 4 which is the hardest part. Before the listening, it is worth considering for a moment what makes part 4 tough. Knowing the problem is always part of the solution. In this post, I am going to focus on just problem – time.
The problem of time
The part 4 listening goes on for around 5 minutes without a break. Part of the problem is that’s quite a long time to concentrate particularly at the end of the test. I’m thinking of something more particular though: you get only one answer every 30 seconds or so. This means you can spend a lot of time hearing no answers and so it becomes easy to get lost. You don’t know if you’re waiting for question 2 or of it has moved onto question 4.
The first solution is simple enough: always look at two questions at once. It’s never a problem to miss one answer, it’s only a problem if you miss two answers because you don’t know what you’re listening for.
The second solution is to spend just a little time looking over all the questions to see how the talk is structured. If you can understand this, then you should be able to follow the talk as it proceeds and not get lost.
Let’s look at this sample listening to see what I mean:
See the big picture
I’m not a very big fan of spending too much time trying to predict the answers to individual questions before you listen – I simply don’t believe that you have enough time for that. What I suggest is that you clear your head and see the big picture and then relax so you can concentrate as you listen.
Here the big picture is:
- there are two topics: malaria and quinine
- the quinine part is generally chronological: it starts near the 17th century and ends in the 1940s
This is useful information because you know if the speaker (me!) starts talking about quinine and not malaria you skip onto question 5. Then you know to concentrate when you hear dates and if you hear a later date, you move onto that question.
This I’ll leave to you for now, but you’ll find some notes added as a comment to help you out and then you can download the tapescript to see the answers.
The one point I would make is that you should only concentrate on the first one or two questions before you listen. If you try and focus on all the questions, you are likely to confuse yourself with too much information. You will have plenty of time to look at them as you listen.