How to Score Well In TOEFL Listening

If you are not a native English speaker and want to expand your horizons and pursue your education or apply for a job in major English speaking countries like Australia, Canada, the US, the UK, etc., you’ll have to pass a test of English proficiency. Now, there are several such tests, but one of the most widely accepted tests is TOEFL or The Test of English as a Foreign Language.

TOEFL Exam Pattern

Test takers must know about the exam pattern of TOEFL before registering for the exam. The TOEFL exam pattern is as follows

1- Internet (TOEFL iBT)

  • Almost 97% of students go for iBT. If your country or area has the internet, you’ll be giving iBT.
  • There are four sections- reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
  • Unlike many other exams, this test has no grammar and vocabulary sections.
  • All the four sections are completed via a microphone on a computer. The test takers don’t have to write anything on paper.

2- Paper (TOEFL PBT)

  • For places that are yet to have internet access, TOEFL PBT centers are present. Shortly, all of these centers will be replaced by iBT centers.
  • This is a very different test from iBT, having four but different sections, reading, writing/grammar, listening, and a separate essay.
  • The iBT takes around 200-250 minutes to complete, including a 10-minute break.
  • The PBT takes almost 140-159 minutes to complete. TOEFL score ranges from 310 to 677.

TOEFL Listening Test Basic Information

  • Out of the four sections, the listening section comes second.
  • The entire section lasts for around 60-90 minutes and comprises 4-6 lectures and 2-3 conversations.
  • Every lecture lasts for about 3-5 minutes and is followed by a set of 6 questions each.
  • While every conversation lasts for about 3 minutes and is followed by five questions each.
  • There may be a conversation between a teacher and a student, a discussion in class, a lecture by a professor, etc.
  • The computer screen will show the number of people going to speak and the setting.
  • You’ll only hear the audio clip once, and you’ll have no chance to replay it.

TOEFL Listening Test Tips

And now, onto the section which you’re probably waiting for. This section will help you in obtaining a better TOEFL score. There are mainly three types of questions asked in this test, and we’ll handle each of them individually.

1. Multiple Choice Questions

These are the questions most asked in this test. There will be four choices, out of which one is correct. Below are some tips to solve this type of problem:

  • While listening to the audio recording, keep taking brief, clear notes, as these will help you remember points you might forget after the recording is over.
  • Read every single option. Remember, we have to choose the correct option and not just the correct one. What it means is there might be some choices that are almost true, or very close to the true answer, and not reading all the options might lead you to choose that slightly incorrect option.

2. Multiple-answer Questions

These are different from the Multiple Choice Questions only in the factor that you have to choose all the right options here, and there’s no correct one choice. So, you’ll receive credit only if you mark all the correct options. Following are some tips to help you with these types of questions:

  • You won’t get any partial credits for these questions, so make sure you read every option carefully and choose all the correct choices.
  • Questions that have multiple answers will be labeled so, make sure to keep track of that.
  • The number of options that are correct in every question will be mentioned, so keep that in mind too.

3. Replay Questions

These are the only questions for which you’ll be able to listen to the audio again. A specific section of the audio clip is played for this particular section. Apart from that, you’ll be answering the standard multiple-choice questions. Here are some tips to solve this type of question:

  • Focus completely on the short clip being played. The answer to these types of questions is present in the audio being replayed, so don’t worry about the rest of the clip and only focus on that segment.
  • Let’s say you took good notes while the complete recording was being played; still, keep a sharp focus on the audio being replayed. There are high chance that it’ll have some information that you might not have covered in your notes.

Tips to prepare for TOEFL Listening

Test takers must have a clear overview of the exam format in TOEFL. Without knowing such formats, it will be difficult to prepare for IELTS. A few preparation tips for TOEFL Listening are as follows

  • Take complete practice TOEFL Listening tests. These will help you get comfortable when you give the main test.
  • Keep in mind the organization of the lectures, as this will provide you with a broad idea of the lecture. There are two types of organization:
    • Lecture or Presentation, with a distinct introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
    • Narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Listen to different English accents. The chances are high that you might be familiar with only 1-2 types of accents. The test will have accents from different regions like the UK, Australia, the USA, New Zealand, etc. So get yourself familiar with that.
  • Listen to spoken English regularly. This preparation tip helps the test takers to get an idea about how to practice the listening section. The more you listen, the better you’ll understand. Use different sources like movies, TV series, podcasts, news stations, etc.
  • Make note-taking a habit. Every recording has a duration of a few minutes, so, taking quick, short, efficient notes helps a lot because it’s impractical to only rely on your memory. Here are a few tips to remember while taking notes:
    • Write down only these things:
      • Main points of the lecture
      • Details about those main points
      • Facts that are difficult to remember, and might come in handy later
    • Don’t write the following:
      • Words that indicate the passage organization like I think that… or In my opinion…
      • Function words (the, a, an)

So, these are some of the points you should keep in mind before you sit for your TOEFL Listening Test. Keep in mind the overview of the TOEFL Exam Pattern, and the basic tips, keep your focus and concentration, and you’ll succeed in obtaining a great TOEFL Score.


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