Understanding the Cognitive Processes Underlying Performance in the IELTS Listening Comprehension Test

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 English Department, Imam Reza International University, Mashhad, Iran.

2 English Department, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad Branch, Mashhad, Iran.


The purpose of thisstudy istoexaminethecognitiveprocessesunderlyingthelistening comprehension section of IELTS and toinvestigate iftheyvaryin terms of    difficulty. For this purpose, a checklist of possible cognitive operations was prepared based on the literature and the candidates’ feedback obtained in a posttest interview. The checklist consisted of six cognitive operations. A sample of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) listening test was given to 310 upperintermediate and advanced students of English. Linear logistic test model was employed to analyse the data. Findings showed that keeping up with the pace of the speaker and understanding reduced forms were the most difficult operations for the listeners. Altogether, the six operations explained 72% of the variance in itemdifficulty estimates. Implicationsof the study for the testing and teaching of listening comprehension are discussed.