Dodge Spelling Errors in IELTS Listening Like a Pro: Improve your Score with These Simple Tips

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Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS Listening: The IELTS listening test can be challenging for many test takers. The section requires students to have good listening skills as well as proficiency in English writing. While you won’t be crafting formal essays, the test still assesses your ability to organise your thoughts and express them clearly. This is where spelling becomes a silent but crucial factor in your success. 


Unlike some exams, the IELTS listening test is a strict “all or nothing” affair. Each answer is either completely correct (spelt accurately) or completely wrong. A single misspelling can cost you a point, and those points can quickly add up, especially in sections with multiple short-answer questions. Apart from that, IELTS is a window into your ability to function in an English-speaking environment. Consistent and accurate spelling demonstrates your overall language proficiency and attention to detail – qualities valued in academic and professional settings. That said, read the complete blog to learn more about the common spelling mistakes in IELTS listening. 

Top 5 Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS Listening That You Must Avoid in 2024

The listening section of the IELTS exam is often considered one of the most challenging aspects of the entire exam. This is because it requires students to use not only their listening skills but also their English writing skills. That said, one of the hurdles that often cause students to lose their marks is spelling. One may consider the importance of spelling as insignificant, however, these are the little pitfalls that can impede your overall scores in the longer run. This is why one must prioritise the importance of using correct spelling as much as they emphasise the importance of grammar and punctuation. Here are some of the most common spelling mistakes usually made by students in IELTS listening that you must avoid at all costs. 

Single and Double Consonants

Single and double consonants are often vilified in IELTS. This is because these seemingly innocuous words often cause test-takers to lose their crucial marks. This usually occurs when students stumble across single and double consonants close, leading to imminent errors. For instance, words like “across,” “recommend,” and “necessary” can trip up listeners who might accidentally omit a crucial second consonant. Conversely, double consonants followed by a single consonant can cause similar problems. Imagine hearing “apparent,” “exaggerate,” or “immediate” and having to quickly transcribe them under pressure. The temptation to add an extra consonant where none exists can be strong.

The challenge intensifies further with words containing two sets of double consonants. “Accommodation,” “assess,” “possess,” and “occurrence” are just a few examples. The rapid pace of the listening section and the pressure to capture details can easily lead to misspelling these words.

Adding Suffixes to Words

Another sneaky culprit for spelling errors in the listening section is adding suffixes like -ed, -ing, -er, and -est to verbs. These words can confuse you because, at times, the last consonant in the word needs to be doubled before adding the suffix. This can be a real brain-twister when listening at speed. 

Imagine hearing a sentence like “The deadline has passed.” Here, the “d” in “pass” gets doubled before adding “-ed” to form the past tense. Similarly, “She is always running late” requires doubling the “n” before adding “-ing” for the present continuous tense.

These doubling rules can trip you up if you’re not prepared. To conquer this challenge, get familiar with verb conjugation patterns and practice writing out verbs with different endings. This will help you recognize the doubling rules in action and transcribe them accurately during the listening test.

Irregular Verbs

These are the wild cards of the English language! Unlike regular verbs that follow predictable patterns for past tense and past participle forms (add “-ed”), irregular verbs have their own unique conjugations. “Write” becomes “wrote” (past tense) and “written” (past participle), while “break” becomes “broken” and “broken.” The best way to tackle these is to learn common irregular verbs through memorization and practice.


  • Listen for: “I saw a beautiful sunset yesterday.” (“Saw” is the past tense of “see”)
  • Watch out for: “They have already eaten their lunch.” (“Eaten” is the past participle of “eat”)

Words Changing Form

Students often stumble across the hurdle of words that change their form. They usually make spelling mistakes while changing the form of words.

 For example:  When adjectives turn into nouns (absent to absence), nouns become adjectives (benefit to beneficial), verbs become nouns (maintain to maintenance), or nouns become verbs (success to succeed), spelling can change slightly. Be familiar with these transformations to avoid mistakes.

Double Duty Words

Double-duty words can often throw a bouncer or two at test takers as these are dicey. These words can be both nouns and verbs, depending on the context, and a single misspelling can land you in an “out.” 

For example: Imagine the word “address.” As a noun, it refers to a location (your home address). But listen closely, and it can also be a verb, meaning “to formally speak to someone” (e.g., “The speaker addressed the crowd”).

Some other examples: 

  • “Progress” can be the noun describing advancement (e.g., “There has been significant progress on the project”), or the verb meaning “to move forward” (e.g., “The team is progressing well”). 
  • Similarly, “exhibit” can be a noun showcasing something (e.g., “The museum has a new dinosaur exhibit”), or a verb meaning “to display something publicly” (e.g., “The artist will exhibit her paintings this month”).

50+ Commonly Misspelt words in IELTS Listening 2024

It is a prevalent misperception that spelling mistakes only occur during the IELTS writing section. However, this is not correct. During the IELTS listening section, students make an equal number of spelling mistakes. This sheds light on how important spelling is in the IELTS exam. Whether you’re writing or listening, you can’t expect to get a good band score unless you have a strong grasp of spelling. Therefore, you must develop and hone your spelling and avoid making the most prevalent IELTS spelling mistakes, which can lead to you losing important scores. 

You’re probably wondering where one can make the most typical spelling mistakes in the IELTS listening section. To respond, students frequently commit spelling errors in question types including labelling and note completion. That being stated, please see the table below for a list of the most commonly misspelt words in IELTS listening. Keep these in mind so you don’t make the same mistakes in IELTS listening. 

Types of Spelling Spelling Mistakes in IELTS Listening 
Single or Double Letters
Embarrassment, Accommodation, Annual, Current, Account, Classroom, Attendance, Assessment, Commencement, Dissertation, Questionnaire, Pepper, Blackcurrant, Pizza, Waterfall, Cliff, Village, Hurricane, Mammals
Silent Letters
Wednesday, June, Science, Discipline, Conscious, Knowledge, Foreign, Catalogue, Environment, Government, Autumn, Column, Drought, Reliable, Renewable, Switzerland, Palace, Sculpture, Insurance, Lane, Kitchen
Accept – Except, Plain – Plane, Peace – Piece, Scene – Seen, Stationary – Stationery, Steal – Steel, Sauce – Source, Sore – Soar, For – Four – Fore, Their – There – They’re, Hour – Our, Band – Banned, Capital – Capitol, Chilli – Chilly, Choral – Coral, Council – Counsel, Die -Dye, Discreet – Discrete, Daft – Daught, Genes – Jeans, Hole – Whole, Marshal – Martial, Weather – Whether
‘Ei’ or ‘Ie’Believe, Die, Friend, Brief, Field, Hygiene, Niece, Priest, Relieve, Thief, Experience, Receive, Perceive,  Ceiling, Conceive, Receipt
Using ‘Or’ and ‘Er’Decorator, Professor, Doctor, Mediator, Collector, Commentator, Actor, Sculptor, Contributor, Investigator, Inventor, Counsellor, Governor, Protector, Generator, Protector, Refrigerator, Bachelor, Lecturer, Driver, Runner, Prisoner, Builder, Jeweller, Traveller, Fertilizer, Register
Words that Change Form Benefit – Beneficial, Influence – Influential, Circumstance – Circumstantial, Pronunciation – Pronounce, Argue – Argument, Decide – DecisionRefer – Referring, Frolic – Frolicking, Occur – Occurred, Unity – Unify, Justice – Justify

9+ Tips to Improve Your Spellings for IELTS Listening

English spelling might cause test takers to lose valuable IELTS listening marks. However, students must hone their spelling skills in preparation for IELTS listening. Here are some of the best strategies to help you enhance your comprehension of English spelling and bolster your chances of scoring higher in that part. Have a peek. 

  • Be familiar with words that have a single consonant followed by a double consonant (recommend, process, necessary) or vice versa (apparent, immediate, exaggerate).
  • Pay attention to verbs in the past tense (-ed) or present continuous (-ing) and remember that sometimes the final consonant needs to be doubled before adding the suffix (stop becomes stopped, plan becomes planning).
  • Understand when to drop the silent “e” before adding a suffix (like becomes liking) and when to keep it (move becomes movement).
  • Create a list of common IELTS listening vocabulary and frequently misspelt words. Practice writing them out regularly.
  • Find audio clips from past IELTS listening tests or other sources with clear pronunciation. Listen and write down what you hear, focusing on spelling accuracy.
  • Practice identifying words that can be both nouns and verbs (address, progress, exhibit).
  • Create memory aids to remember tricky spellings. For example, “I before E except after C” or “necessary” has two “c”s and two “s”s, both necessary for the word.
  • Use flashcards with the word on one side and a picture or sentence demonstrating its meaning on the other.
  • Explore the origin of words to understand their spelling. Sometimes, understanding the root word can help you remember the spelling.
  • Utilise online spelling checkers while practising spelling exercises. (Remember, don’t rely on these tools during the actual test!)

By implementing these strategies and practising consistently, you can significantly improve your spelling skills and feel more confident tackling the IELTS listening test. Remember, strong spelling demonstrates your overall language proficiency and can contribute to a higher band score.

So that was all about common IELTS listening spelling mistakes. Hope the blog has answered your queries regarding the topic. 

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Q1. Do spelling mistakes matter in IELTS listening?

Ans. While many focus on grammar and vocabulary for the IELTS, spelling often gets overlooked. The IELTS test doesn’t award partial credit for answers. A spelling error, no matter how minor, means a missed point. These seemingly insignificant mistakes can quickly add up, especially in sections with multiple short answer questions. Incorrect spelling can impede communication and understanding. 

Q2. What words are commonly misspell in IELTS listening?

Ans. Some commonly misspelt words in IELTS listening include “accommodation,” “definitely,” “necessary,” “environment,” “separate,” “occurrence,” “opportunity,” “embarrassment,” and “receive”. 

Q3. Does IELTS cut marks for spelling mistakes?

Ans. Spelling is a critical element in the IELTS listening test. Unlike some exams where you might lose points for incorrect answers, the IELTS listening section awards points based on correct answers only. There’s no partial credit for close calls. If your answer isn’t spell correctly, it’s marked as wrong, regardless of whether you understood the content. Furthermore, spelling mistakes can create misunderstandings. Even if you grasped the meaning, a misspelling technically makes your answer incorrect.

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