Top Tips for IELTS

IELTS listening filling out a table

This is a practice IELTS listening filling out a table exercise. As well as the exercise itself, you will find some advice on how to approach this type of question. The idea is that you need to use the 30 seconds preparation time well and there are different things to think about in that time. Yes, you do want to try and predict some answers, but it is just as important to understand what you are going to listen to generally and understand how the table works.

Before you listen – understand the table

The idea is that before each listening task, you should spend the 30 seconds to try and do all of these things:

  1.  understand what you are going to listen to
  2. understand how the table is organised
  3. predict what type of answers you might want

You should note that there are different ideas here. You don’t just want to try and predict the answer, you also want to make sure you have a good idea about what the listening is going to be about and how the table is organised. The idea is simple:

if you know what you are going to listen to, you will listen better

An example

What is the listening about?

This is something you very much want to do before you listen. If you look at the table below, you will see that the information it contains all relates to a piece of writing. Knowing this will help you listen better.

  • What is the table about?

Understanding the layout of the table

This is something you want to do before you listen. You want to work out how the table works. Any headings will tell you how the talk is organised. You also want to understand that question 2 always comes before question 3. In the example below, this means that you should read the table downwards by columns. In another table, it is possible that you would need to read the table across in rows. The questions  to ask are:

  • Look at the headings in this table. What three main sections does it have?
  • Look at the question numbers. What are you going to hear first?

Predicting answers

You may not do all of this before you listen, but you can still do it as you listen.

  • What sort of word do you think answer 2 might be? Read across the table and you might be able to guess.
  • How about number 3? Look at the other details in the box and you might be able to guess.
  • How about 4? Again, read across the table and you might be bale to guess.


Do the listening practice

Complete the table above using no more than 2 words or a number:

See the answers and read the script

See the answers

Question 1 = thesis

Question 2 = 300 words (don’t be confused by the other numbers you hear, you are listening for the proposal information only: always pay attention to the headings

Question 3 – compulsory (a harder question perhaps: it matches “advised” and “if necessary”

Question 4 = one month (pay attention to grammar here: you hear a date as well but what you write must follow the words “to take”

Question 5 = English (you want a word that follows “in”

Question 6 = alphabetical ( perhaps you can guess this from “___ order”)


Read the transcript

I’m sorry Professor Bieberlake I’m slightly confused about the different sections I need in my project and what they should include. Could you go over them for me again?

Okay. The place to start is with the proposal. This is what we’ve been doing in class so far this semester. The idea here is to show what the whole project will be about. When I read it, I should have a good idea about what the exact topic is – that’s the introduction. What the main body of the project will include – that’s the outline. Why you chose it – that’s the justification,

So. Let me see if I’ve got this right. There are two different parts to the proposal. The introduction is where I say why I chose that topic and the outline where I put in the contents.
Actually no. There are 3 parts and they should each have a heading. The first heading is Introduction and you need to write a paragraph there about the topic of the project and it’s really important that you have a clear thesis statement. Then the next heading is Outline and you’ll need to write 3 or 4 paragraphs there – you mustn’t use bullet points – saying what details you will include in the project. Then the third and final heading is Justification. Again you just need to write one paragraph there and what you do is say why you chose that topic and perhaps what you expect to learn.

Okay. I think that’s straight now. oh no. I forgot. What’s the word limit? It’s got to be 1500 words, doesn’t it. I’m not sure how I’m going to manage that.

Uh no. The whole project needs to be 1500 words. The proposal itself is only 300 words and the main body itself is 1200 words.

That shouldn’t be a problem. You said something about the main body?

Yes this is where you need to spend most time. The proposal itself is mostly a thinking task and you can complete that in around two weeks. But the main body is all about research and you’ll need to do lots of reading and note taking first. That’s why we’ve given you much longer to complete it.

Okay. I’m happy with the research. I’ve already done most of the reading but I’m just not sure how to organise it. Should I use headings? We didn’t have to use headings where I was studying before and then I think I’d like to use some charts and graphs – I think it’d be clearer to set out some of the data visually.

Well first of all we recommend that you have three main sections. That means you have to organise your content. But this is why you write your outline – it’s to make you think about how you should arrange your research so that the reader can understand your main points.You’re not just able to use headings. In fact they’re compulsory. If you don’t have them, you’ll be penalised. As for visuals, you can use pictures and charts and graphs if they make the content more intelligible. Don’t put them in for the sake of it

And I should point out that the due date is April 27th. The time allocated for it is one month. The final section is the reference section. This is crucial. We are very strict on how you do this. There must be at least 6 references. You cannot use any source material in Estonian. We only accept references that are in English and when you come to write them out, make sure that they are in alphabetical order and we use the Harvard referencing system here. And it’s also necessary to have a separate page for this section.


IELTS listening - project table (5676)

More listening


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19 Responses to IELTS listening filling out a table

  1. kyumsun December 22, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Thank you so much for very useful materials to practice me to prepare for the IELTS~! Particularly the listening listening this material everyday I could improve my weak point. Thanks again~!

    • Vignesh July 19, 2016 at 4:05 am #

      Hello Mr.Cole,

      1. For question number 2, my answer is “300 words”. But, the given answer is “300”. Is my answer is correct? I followed the same format as given for main body which was “1200 words”.

      2. How to identify which will be the correct answer either “300 words” or just “300” in other similar cases?

      Thanks in advance.

  2. Rania Nabil March 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    I just like to thank you. your work is extremely valuable for me, it helped me and improved my level significantly
    thanks again

  3. Rifad Daniel April 17, 2014 at 2:33 am #

    Thanks a lot……….

  4. Aakash July 12, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    My first shot at the above example was disastrous. I had panicked when I didn’t pick up the first answer. I thought I was losing the plot. Thank you for a good practice.

  5. A7med August 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    its really awesome!
    thank you very much Mr. Cole

  6. David Haye August 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Thanks a lot. it hels to understand and learn more new things

  7. VARSHA August 15, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    THANK YOU..:)

  8. Nellya September 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    very good

  9. Junaedi Dongoran October 8, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    Thanks for COLE

  10. Aswini Kumar October 13, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Hi dominic,
    I have a doubt.In the above practice test,for the answer alphabetical order can we write an alphabetical order? will that be evaluated as correct answer?

  11. Ares October 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    In answers, the first answer you wrote is “thesis”. He or she doesn’t use this word anywhere.

    • Dominic Cole November 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      Listen again! Or just download the transcript.

  12. Shruti November 13, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    This site really help me lot. I am doing above practice but haven’t got first answer. As per your answer i.e “thesis” what this mean please help me.

    • Dominic Cole November 13, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      This is an important concept in writing. A thesis statement is when you say in your introduction what the main point of your essay is.

  13. Zehra July 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    Hello Mr. Cole,

    Thanks for this web-page! It’s helping a lot! Regards

  14. champa October 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Thanks a lot .For the time allocation for the “main body(question 4)” I thought as 2 weeks .It is mentioned that they have one month to complete and 2 weeks given under proposal itself.Please correct me if i am wrong

  15. champa October 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the guidence. For the time allocation for the “main body(question 4)” I thought as 2 weeks .It is mentioned that they have one month to complete and 2 weeks given under proposal itself.Please correct me if i am wrong

  16. Lussee November 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm #


    Thank you verymuch for the creation ofthis site. The site is the best one I have ever used to prepare for the IELTS exam.

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