Listening Section

TOEFL® Listening format differs in its length and the number of questions that need to be answered also may vary. This section can have 34 questions which would take around 60 minutes or 51 questions which would take 90 minutes. A total of 4-6 lectures and 2-3 conversations are there in all. Each lecture is around four to five minutes in length and six subsequent questions and each conversation is around 3 minutes and comes with five questions. Audio clips will be played only once. A speaker will be on the screen which each clip for the Listening section. A good Listening score is anything over 21 or more.

Listening Question types:

  1. Multiple choice
  2. Multiple answer
  3. Replay audio clip

Types of listening questions

TOEFL iBT® listening section recreates a classroom scenario or lectures conducted therein or some exercises to do with administrative work. Lecture topics are varied and are derived from topics like arts, sciences, music, computer science, psychology and so on. In the lecture there could be a single speaker, or a conversation between students and their guide. The content could be about office hours, or services within the premises of a university and so on. Each listening exercise is played once in the exam. Students are permitted to take notes on all iBT listening section while they are on their listening section

Groups of listening section questions

TOEFL iBT® managed by ETS has grouped TOEFL iBT® into three categories. a) Basic comprehension questions b) Practical understanding questions c) connecting information questions. TOEFL iBT® listening has predominantly multiple choice with four options to choose from. There is another set which is a multiple choice but with more than one correct answers. Then there are also questions which are guided by diagrams, charts etc which require matching objects as well as sequencing order of events. These questions types are in the form of lectures and conversations.

A. Basic comprehension questions: The question here are of three kinds- (i) content questions (ii) purpose questions (iii) detail questions. For the first type, the required reply would be broad understanding of the conversation or piece rather than specific information. For purpose questions the primary reason for the lecture is asked while for the detailed question the test taker must be able to repeat in fair detail the factual details from the conversation.

B. Practical understanding questions: Here there are two types of tasks (i) understanding what is said (ii) understanding the speaker's stance or outlook. The first type of question judges the candidate's comprehension of the speaker's intention. The latter talks of the speaker's feelings. Sometimes the question need the test taker to identify the paradox, sarcasm or displeasure from the tone of voice.

C. Connecting information questions: This category has three types of questions- understanding organization questions, connecting content questions, and making inferences questions. In understanding questions, the test takers need to select the correct option that precisely reproduce the rationale behind the individual statements. Connecting questions are interlinked with relationships between ideas. This type of question is connected with charts, tables and will be lecture-based exercises only.

Skills and strategies

Test takers who excel in listening section should have the skill to identify the context. This means making the main points distinct from supporting ones, recognizing the purpose of speech of the speaker and distinguishing verbal prompts, pauses, effect and tonality. Test takers are allowed to take notes during the exams. Continuous practice tests and numerous hearing sessions would eventually help upgrade the necessary listening skills and enable better performance in the listening section on the day of the test.

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