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Predicting Answers for Tables Print E-mail
IELTS - IELTS Listening Test
Table questions can be a difficult aspect of the IELTS Listening test. You have to listen to a recording and complete a table using the information you hear. There is though a lot you can do to help yourself before you listen to the recording. Looking at the information available (using headings and the existing information in a table), you should be able to predict what will be required to complete the gaps in a table. What follows are some tips on how to approach completing tables.

Aim: This section will help you to answer 'Table-completion' questions better by showing you how to look for clues.

Problems: Many candidates don't look for clues in the question paper before they listen.

Look at the table below:  
Questions 1 to 6 - Richard and Lindsay are at a second-hand bookstore looking for travel books to plan their round-the-world trip.

Countries covered


Travels through the Andes

Belgium, Luxembourg & Holland


North American continent

Canada & The U.S.:
A traveler's guide
Traveling in the Baltic states

Tip: If you look at the existing information in the table, you will be able to predict possible answers quite easily.

Questions 1 and 5   
In the example above, the first two columns are related; therefore you can predict questions 1 & 5 by looking at the titles in the 'Title' column - depending on how good your geography is:   
Question 1   
Travels through the Andes - South American continent / countries (e.g.: Chile / Peru / Uruguay).    
Question 5    
Traveling through the Baltic States - Latvia / Estonia etc.    
Question 2
With the second column you have lots of clues with the other titles, BUT… be careful! The people who write the test often make it look too easy for you to guess with some questions and this is a good example. There is the word 'travel' in all of the other titles and the listening is about people buying travel books, so you will automatically expect the word 'travel' to appear in the answer to question 2. It might, but it probably won't - because it is too easy; the title will be something to do with traveling, but it might be worded differently. Be very careful of questions like these because you can miss an easy answer.   
Questions 3, 4 & 6   
The third column is concerned with numbers (see 'Useful hints for numbers'). The numbers are all book prices so they will probably contain 3 or 4 figures - somewhere between $1.00 & $99.99; it is unlikely that any books will be more expensive. There will be traps set for you by the people who write the test; usually this is done by mixing up numbers in the 'teen' range (e.g.: fourteen) and multiples of ten (e.g. forty). These numbers sound very similar with the long /I:/ and short /I/ sounds respectively. Also, the speakers on the tape might change their minds so that the first number you hear isn't the correct one (see 'Listening: How can I answer True/False questions better').   
Have a go predicting what the answers might be in the following table:   
Questions 1 to 6 - Peter & Amy are at a clothing warehouse looking for material for the university Drama Club's annual play.

Angel Gabriel
10 sq.m
Britney Spears


35 sq.m
Three kings

Check with the suggested Answer Key.

Do you have any specific listening issues you need addressing? Use the comments form below to let us know what you need… {fcomment}