At the start of each listening part, the person who introduces the test will give you a quick summary of the situation.
For example, in the IELTS test you will hear information similar to the following:
Part (Section) 1. A man calls a woman to enquire about renting accommodation. Listen to the conversation between the man and the woman and answer questions 1 to 5.
Part (Section) 2. You will hear a woman talking about a number of different national parks. Listen to her talk and answer the questions 11 – 16.
Part (Section) 3. In this section, you will hear a discussion between a male student and a woman who is a lecturer at a university. Listen to the conversation and answer questions 21 – 24.
Part (Section) 4. In this section, you will hear Hayden Marchetto, an expert in sports science, discuss recent innovations in sports therapy as a way of aiding recovery for athletes. Listen to the information and answer questions 31 – 40.
When you hear this introductory information, you need to use your critical thinking skills to consider what you already know about the topic and predict what the information will include.
For example, for section 1, what do you know about renting accommodation? What types of questions and answers will be asked and answered? If you think it might be price, location and time of availability you are on the right track.
In section 4 the lecture is about recovery for sports people and innovation. What do you think this involves? You might be thinking about using heart rate monitors, advanced exercise programs using technology and choices of diet.
By asking yourself what you already know about the topic and situation, you trigger your brain into thinking about the exact topic and you will be faster to comprehend what is happening when the listening actually starts.
Students who do well at IELTS are usually people who have experience in real world situations and have an interest in the world around them. So, make sure you pay attention to the world around you as you prepare for IELTS. Read newspapers, watch current affairs TV shows and experience life.