Spelling is hard – IELTS Listening


IELTS listening is not just about listening to the tape and noting down the answer. It is essential that the spelling is correct.

It does not matter whether the spelling is as per British English or the American version. For eg, in the USA, its color, but in the UK, it is colour. Both answers are accepted in the IELTS exam. However, the candidate is penalized for a wrongly spelt word.

Spelling errors could be because of many reasons. The most obvious of them is that the candidate does not know the spelling. This is true for words which have double letters such as tomorrow or words where there are consecutive vowels such as believe. Or is it beleive?

Another reason is perhaps because candidates have never come across a particular word. For instance, in India ‘aubergine’ is not a common word. Hence, candidates might not be able to get this spelling right. This is true for words related to art,music, dance, drama, or out-door activities. In such cases, it is almost impossible to score a mark.

The IELTS listening test deliberately uses words which have a different spelling as a noun and a verb to confuse the examinee. For instance, advise and advice are different. As a verb advise is used and as a noun advice is used.

Also, many IELTS test takers  have perhaps never written digits as words. So, they are confused if a 40 is forty or a fourty. The days of writing checks/cheques  is long gone. Here, they have the option of writing a number if not the word. But spellings of days and months are very important. Questions about dates and days are also very common.

To add to this, IELTS uses homophones to confuse the listener. Rear wheel-drive cars might not be very rare. If the candidate does not pay attention to homophones, he may end up writing a wrong word with the right pronunciation as the answer.

Names of people and places are spelt out. And test-takers are not expected to memorize the atlas. This is something we can be thankful about!

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