IELTS listening diagrams

In this post, we will look at diagrams in the listening test.

In the IELTS Listening test, you may see questions that ask you to label a diagram or process. The diagram may be a dissection of a machine or the different parts of a process. 

When you listen to the speaker talk through the diagram or process, they will describe it in a logical way and explain everything clearly. You must follow the speaker and not think about your own knowledge of the subject. 

TIP >> Listen out for the sequence of events – first, second, next, after that, finally.

TIP >> Be aware of paraphrasing during this part of the test.

Diagram Question

The question below shows a diagram with some parts labelled. The recording would talk you through the parts and their position. You would match up the answers to the correct part. 


Write the correct number, 1-5, next to Questions A-E.

Diagram Question

Labelling Mechanical Parts

A question may ask you to label the parts of a machine or device.

Questions 1-5

Write the correct letter, A-F, next to questions 1-5 below. 

Tachometer Drive Parts

Labelling Mechanical Parts


When you describe a process, you would use adverbs and prepositions of movement.

Prepositions used with the verb to be can be used to state the location of something. 

For example;

  • The electrical cable is underneath the floor.
  • The water pipe is above the water tank.

Prepositions that show movement are sometimes combined with verbs other than to be.

For example;

  • The water was pumped out of the tank.
  • The wires were moved to another wall.

Prepositions of Movement

Prepositions of movement are used to show movement to or from a place.

For example;

to, through, across

When you use the word to it can show movement to a specific destination.

  • The pipe is going to reach the end of the house.
  • The pipe goes to the air conditioning unit.

Through is used to show movement from one side of a confined space to the other.

  • The cable went through the interior isolation.
  • The water pipe passes through the exterior of the house.

The word across is used to show movement from one side to another.

  • To reach the outside line, the pipe was passed across the roof. 
  • To get to the outside patio the cable went across the room.

More prepositions of movement >>

along – the inside of……

around – the edge of……

away from – the tracks

back to – the machine

down – the side of…..

into – the heating element

off – the side of the wall

out of – the box

over – the table

past – the pipe

round – the side of the machine

towards – the area beneath the table

under – the fan

up – the main cable line

The words at and in can be used to show the purpose of movement, for example;

  • The long thin cable is at the bottom of the wall. 
  • The ceiling fan is moving slowly in the other room.


The words below can help you to connect the stages of the process you are writing about.

Sequencing helps you as the listener to understand the information clearly. This will also help you in Academic Writing Task 1 – Process.



A question may ask you to label the stages of a process.

TIP >> Study the process before you listen to the recording and read the list of options.



TIP >> The plans, maps and diagrams questions do not follow the order that you hear the information in the recording. Therefore it is important that you read the questions and familiarise yourself with the diagram or process you are looking at before you start listening. 

TIP >> Study the diagram or process and see where things are before listening to the recording. Marks can be lost if you do not do this and read the questions properly.

TIP >> Listen carefully for information but be wary of distractors. 

TIP >> Make notes on the paper and draw lines etc. This may help you to locate information.

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