IELTS Listening tips for Section 2 maps and directions (2023)

IELTS Listening Section 2…

  • is a monologue (only one person speaking)
  • is about an everyday, social topic (not academic)
  • is usually a person giving information or instructions/directions
  • often includes a MAP! (see below).

In this lesson, you’ll learn 10 tips as you work through a real test.

How to follow directions on a map in IELTS Listening Part 2

In the example below you will hear a guide giving advice to people visiting a farm.

Tip 1: Check the number of words

How many words are you allowed? ALWAYS check instructions – it’s usually 1 or 2.

Tip 2: Word types

The words in the spaces will always be CONTENT words, not GRAMMAR words (Grammar words = articles, auxiliary verbs, pronouns, determines etc).

Tip 3: Guessing and making predictions

Can you guess what might come in the gaps (see the example below)?

Making predictions will help prepare your brain hear the correct answer.

Think about:

  • what kind of word you need in the gap (verb, noun, adjective or adverb)
  • singular/plural clues (e.g. the article ‘a‘ before a gap tells you that it’s a singular NOUN)

IELTS Listening Gapfill Practice

Listen to my version of this test about a farm tour, and try the test before you check the tapescript:

Fiddy Working Heritage Farm

Visitors should

  • take care not to harm any (11) ________________
  • not touch any (12) _______________
  • wear (13) _________________
  • not bring 14_______________ into the farm
(Video) IELTS Listening Map Labelling with Alex

‘Welcome to the Fiddy Working Heritage Farm. This open-air museum gives you the experience of agriculture and rural life in the English countryside at the end of the nineteenth century. So you’ll see a typical farm of that period, and like me, all the staff are dressed in clothes of that time.

I must give you some advice and safety tips before we go any further. As it is a working farm, please don’t frighten or injure the animals (11).We have a lot here, and many of them are breeds that are now quite rare.

And do stay at a safe distance from the tools (12): some of them have sharp points which can be pretty dangerous so please don’t touch them. We don’t want any accidents do we?

The ground is very uneven and you might slip if you’re wearing sandals so I’m glad to see you’re all wearing shoes (13) – we always advise people to do that.

Now, children of all ages are very welcome here, and usually even very young children love the ducks and lambs, so do bring them along next time you come.

I don’t think any of you have brought dogs (14)with you, but in case you have, I’m afraid they’ll have to stay in the car park, unless they’re guide dogs. I’m sure you’ll understand that they could cause a lot of problems on a farm.’

(Adapted from Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests CUP, Test Book 11, Test 1)

IELTS Listening Gapfill Tips

Tip 4: Question order

  • The answers always appear in the same order as the questions. So don’t jump around the questions. Listen for signals and signposts
  • (here – ‘I must give you some advice is a signal that the ‘should’ list will start).

Tip 5: The information you can ignore

  • There is a short introduction to help you get used to the voice and the topic
  • There is some ‘padding’ in between each answer, to give you time to get ready for the next gap.

Learn to recognize this kind of unimportant information when you’re doing Practice tests (use the tapescripts to help you).

It is designed to give you enough time to write the answer down before it moves on to the next question.

Tip 6: Synonyms

Synonyms will almost always give you the answer (in all parts of the test).

(Video) IELTS Listening Practice | MAPS | Band 9 Strategy

e.g. ‘don’t frighten or injure the animals’ = ‘don’t harm the animals’

Tip 7: Reference words

Reference words are words like ‘it’ ‘this’ ‘that’ ‘them’ ‘those’ ‘these’ and ‘he/she/it/they’.

  • you’re all wearing shoes – we always advise people to do that‘ (‘that‘ refers back to ‘wearing shoes‘);
  • ‘…stay a safe distance from the tools….don’t touch them‘;
  • ‘…brought dogs..they‘ll have to stay in the car park’.

Tip 8: Plurals

ALL the answers in this example are PLURAL NOUNS so you absolutely must put the ‘s’ at the end of plural nouns.

Double check that you did this when you transfer the answers to the answer sheet (it’s one of the main reasons why people lose points).

Tip 9: Spelling

Spelling IS important. Spend time learning words with irregular spelling or ‘difficult’ spelling patterns e.g.

  • irregular plural rules like the ‘y-i’ rule (baby – babies), and
  • spelling-sound irregularities like fees/ peas/ pheasant/ peasant
  • the magic ‘e’ rule.

How to follow directions on a map in IELTS Listening

Look at the map of the farm below:

  • Make sure you find where you are! (find ‘You are here’)
  • Quickly check the main locations (Car Park, New Barn, Fish Pool etc)
  • Make sure you have found ALL the letters (e.g. here the letter ‘A’ is off the main picture)
  • Write on the map as you listen. Quickly write e.g.‘Scarecrow’ – don’t worry about spelling because you don’t need to write this word down on the answer paper.
  • Also, don’t worry if you don’t know what the words mean e.g. ‘maze’. Just listen for the word and write it where you find it!
  • Before the test, practise the language of directions (e.g. ‘Turn Left’ ‘Go straight on’ ‘It’s opposite/next to…’ etc.).

Now listen to my version of the listening.

The places you need to find are listed below the map.

(15) Scarecrow ____

(16) Maze ____

(17) Cafe____

(18) Black Barn ____

(19) Covered picnic area ____

(Video) IELTS Listening Tips & Practice | MAPS

(20) Fiddy House ____

‘Now let me give you some idea of the layout of the farm. The building where you bought your tickets is the New Barn, immediately to your right, and we’re now at the beginning of the main path to the farmland – and of course the car park is on your left. (15)The scarecrow you can see in the car park in the corner, beside the main path, is a traditional figure for keeping the birds away from crops, but our scarecrow is a permanent sculpture. It’s taller than a human being, so you can see it from quite a distance.

(16) If you look ahead of you, you’ll see a maze. It’s opposite the New Barn, beside the side path that branches off to the right just over there. The maze is made out of hedges which are too tall for young children to see over them, but it’s quite small so you can’t get lost in it!

Now, can you see the bridge crossing the fish pool further up the main path? (17) If you want to go to the cafe, go towards the bridge and turn right just before it. Walk along the side path and the cafe’s on the first bend you come to. The building was originally the school house, and it’s well over a hundred years old. As you may know, we run skills workshops here, where you can learn traditional crafts like woodwork and basket -making. You can see examples of the work, and talk to someone about the courses, in the Black Barn. (18) If you take the side path to the right here, just by the New Barn, you’ll come to the Black Barn just where the path first bends.

Now, I mustn’t forget to tell you about picnicking, as I can see some of you have brought your lunch with you. You can picnic in the field, though do clear up behind you, of course. (19) Or if you’d prefer a covered picnic area, there’s one near the farmyard: just after you cross the bridge, there’s a covered picnic spot on the right.

And the last thing to mention is Fiddy House itself. (20) From here you can cross the bridge then walk along the footpath through the field to the left of the farmyard. That goes to the house and it’ll give you a lovely view of it. It’s certainly worth a few photographs, but as it’s a private home, I’m afraid you can’t go inside.’


15 Scarecrow F

16 Maze G

17 Cafe D

18 Black Barn H

19 Covered picnic area C

20 Fiddy House A

IELTS Listening Practice with Maps

Skip to 11:00 to get more practice with following directions and labelling a map.

(Video) IELTS Listening maps diagrams practice test

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Listening Tips: Section 3



How can I improve my IELTS section 2 listening? ›

Preparation Tips for IELTS Listening (Part 2)
  1. Divide and concur! The recording divides questions into groups, so every time you are instructed to answer a group of 4-5 questions. ...
  2. Distractions. ...
  3. Listen for specifics. ...
  4. Answer as you listen. ...
  5. Keep moving forward. ...
  6. Know your clues. ...
  7. Eliminate. ...
  8. Gap-fill strategy.

How to answer IELTS listening map questions? ›

IELTS Map Listening Practice
  1. Check the location of each number on your map.
  2. Think of language that might be used to describe that location.
  3. Look for any arrows on the map.
  4. Answers to questions will come in order (the answer for question 1 will come before the answer for question 2 in the recording)

What is the trick for listening in IELTS? ›

Helpful Tips for IELTS Listening Test. Before the recording begins for any section, do read all the questions carefully. This will help follow the recordings and identify the answers easily. Once a section is complete, you can move ahead and read up the questions for the next section.

What might you hear in section 2 of the listening test? ›

In part 2 of the listening module you will hear one person talking about something of general interest. There is usually more than one type of question. You will often need to listen for specific information - that is dates, times, names, important words. The information in a table is always read from left to right.


1. IELTS LISTENING TEST 22, SECTION 2, QUESTIONS 11-20 (Answers and Tapescript included)
(Boost Listening)
2. IELTS Listening Practice Map labelling band 9 strategy
(Ross IELTS Academy)
(Asad Yaqub)
4. Cambridge 12 Listening Test 8 | Map Practice | IELTS
5. Cambridge 9 Listening Test 2 | Map Practice | IELTS
(SKH IELTS Online Preparation)
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