IELTS Listening Section 3
In this post we will go through an example IELTS Listening Section 3. In Section 3 you have to listen to two or three people discussing something in an academic context. In this example, a climate scientist is giving a seminar about a project and the tasks are notes / diagram completion and matching.
First, you need to download the example questions and audio (if you have not done so already). Go to https://www.ielts.org/about-the-test/sample-test-questions
Click on ‘Listening’. You will see there are 9 sample tasks you can download and print. For this lesson, you need Sample Task 9.
As you go through this lesson, I will tell you what to do in the time before you listen. Having completed this, you should pause this lesson, do the sample task, then come back to the lesson.
Section 3: Notes and Diagram Completion
In the first sample task, you have to complete some notes and a diagram with information about a Robotic Float Project. The instructions state no more than three words and/or a number for both parts. As always, before you listen, read the notes carefully and try to predict synonyms / paraphrase and what the answers might be. This is more difficult for Sections 3 and 4 than it is for Sections 1 and 2, because the language is less common.
Question 21: ‘Float is shaped like a’
- Synonyms: it is formed like / it looks like / it resembles
- Possible answers: A Noun! Tube? Cylinder? Pole? Sausage?
Question 22: ‘Scientists from ___ have worked on the project so far.’
- Synonyms: have been involved / have contributed / have collaborated
- Possible answers: Either two countries or number + countries. E.g ‘Australia and Japan’ or ‘8 countries’.
Question 23: ‘Float dropped into the ocean and ____ by satellite.’
- Synonyms: after being put in the sea it is ___ using satellite
- Possible answers: Something done to the float (notice the passive voice) – Monitored? Controlled? Tracked?
Question 24: ‘Average Distance Travelled’
- Synonyms: how far it went / the distance it floated
- Possible answers: A number + meters or kilometers
Question 25: ‘Float records changes in salinity and ____’
- Synonyms: it measures differences in
- Possible answers: Something that could be measured in the ocean – Temperature? Acidity?
This sample is just like the real exam – so before you listen to each part, you are given time to read the questions:
‘First, you have some time to look at Questions 21 to 25, on pages 5 and 6.’
30 seconds – Use this time to predict language / answers (as above)
‘Now listen carefully and answer Questions 21 to 25.’
Now listen and complete the task.
So, what are the answers? And, more importantly, why?
Question 21: ‘Let’s start with the device itself. It looks a bit like a cigar and it’s about one and a half meters long.’
Question 22: ‘Over the last five years scientists from 13 countries have been taking part in the project and launching floats in their area of ocean control. And next year this number will rise to 14 when Indonesia joins the project.’
Question 23: ‘Each of the floats is dropped in the ocean from a boat at a set point and activated from a satellite.’
Question 24: ‘Then, the float immediately sinks about 2000 meters – that’s 2 whole kilometers down in the water. It stays at this depth for about 10 days and is carried around by the currents which operate in the ocean at this level. During this time it’s possible for it to cover quite large distances, but the average is 50 kilometers.’
Question 25: ‘But as it rises to the surface it collects all sorts of data. Most importantly variations in salinity, that’s salt levels, and the changes in temperature. A bit like underwater weather balloons.’
Now, let’s go on to the second part of Section 3 – matching.
Section 3: Matching
At the end of the first part, the recording states, ‘Before you hear the rest of the conversation, you have some time to look at Questions 26 to 30, on page 7.’ Again, use this time (30 seconds!) to predict language and possible answers. In this example, the three options are ‘at present’, ‘in the near future’ and ‘in the long-term future’, so you should try to think of other ways of indicating those three time periods. For example:
- At Present: can already do this / is doing this now / is being used for / is already able to / currently helping with
- In the near future: soon / within the next few months / will soon be able / in the not too distant future / won’t take much longer
- In the long-term future: in years to come / will eventually be able to / a long way off / looking further ahead / this may take much longer
Now listen and complete the task.
This is where IELTS Listening can get challenging – lots of answers close together, using a wide variety of expressions and less common, academic language. Let’s take a look:
Question 26: ‘Some of the data has already helped in completing projects. For example, our understanding of the underlying causes of El Nino events is being confirmed by float data.’ So the answer is A.
Question 27: ‘Another way we are using float data is to help us to understand the mechanics of climate change, like global warming and ozone depletion. That’s part of an ongoing variability study, but the results are still a long way off.’ So the answer is C.
Question 28: ‘However, this is not the case with our ocean weather forecasting. Because we know from the floats what the prevailing weather conditions will be in certain parts of the ocean, we can advise the navy on search and rescue missions. That’s happening right now.’ So the answer is A.
Question 29: ‘Yes, and advising governments on fisheries legislation. We’re well on the way to completing a project on this. We hope it will help to bring about more sustainable fishing practices.’ So the answer is B.
Question 30: ‘It’s also a powerful agricultural tool. If we were aware of what the weather would be like, say, next year, we could make sure that the farmers planted appropriate grain varieties to produce the best yield from the available rainfall… I agree that this concept is still a long way in the future, but it will come eventually.’ So the answer is C.
That’s it for Part 3. Check out some tips for the IELTS Listening Test here.