TOEFL Listening: An Introduction to TOEFL Listening Section

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  • Updated On:Jul 11,2023 04:33 PM IST

Boost your TOEFL Listening scores today! Go through this descriptive blog and learn about the TOEFL Listening section- study tips and tricks, question types and more. Worry no more because we have got you covered. Scoring high marks has never been easier!

TOEFL Listening An Introduction to TOEFL Listening Section.webp

TOEFL Listening Test

The TOEFL exam's Listening section aims to test an individual's ability to comprehend spoken English in an academic setting. The primary intention behind the TOEFL Listening test is to evaluate one's capacity to stay focused, make quick notes and analyze and assimilate information simultaneously. Many students often consider TOEFL Listening challenging; however, with good practice and understanding of the question type, it is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated.

The TOEFL Listening section is around 60 to 90 minutes long, wherein a long audio recording is played based on which questions need to be answered. The recording lasts for a few several minutes and is only played once. The Listening section has a total of 34 to 51 questions. For every test, around 4 to 6 audio recordings are played, followed by 5 to 6 questions each.

The audio usually consists of lectures, conversations between friends or discussions in the classroom etc. While the recording is being played, test-takers should keep in mind the key points, essential details of the speaker's intention, and the format of the information being provided to answer questions efficiently and effectively.

Five common themes observed in the Listening test

CONVERSTAIONIn this kind, several speakers discuss an academic or campus-related subject. For instance, consider a student searching a library for a book.
LECTUREIn this type a monologue style lecture is delivered by a lecturer.
GROUP DISCUSSIONSimilar to students in a study group, in this category, speakers share their thoughts on a subject relevant to academia.
INTERACTIVE LECTUREIn this type a lecturer delivers a lecture along with queries asked by the students.
CONSULTATIONIn this style, a number of speakers discuss academic or class-related subjects.

TOEFL Listening- Types of Questions

The following types of questions are usually asked in the TOEFL Listening test. Here's a list –

This type of question asks why the speaker said a particular thing, i.e. the function or purpose of the speaker's words in the context of the discussion. Most of the time, the speaker uses slang, phrases or synonyms of a specific word or sentence. The applicant must be attentive while the recording is being played and figure out the context of what is being said.

This type of question generally questions about a detail in the recording. Such questions are observed in most scenarios following a conversation or lecture-based audio.

Such questions require the test-taker to draw conclusions or infer from the conversation or lecture that was played in the audio clip. To answer these questions, one must comprehend an indirect message by delving beyond the literal meaning of the speech.

Much like function questions, the attitude style question type tests one's ability to pinpoint the speaker's attitude, tone, purpose, or intention while speaking. Such questions can be tricky. Therefore, one must listen to the prompt carefully.

Such questions deal with understanding the organization and the primary purpose of the lecture. One must recognize how the specifics and information are arranged in the lecture or talk to respond correctly to these questions. The popular organization forms are cause and effect, comparison and process steps.

The gist is the crux or the main idea of something. Gist questions in this way ask to identify what the essence, purpose or content of the audio was. These can alternatively also be called main idea questions as they question the main theme, the central idea, also known as the gist of the narration by the speaker.

Must Know Tips and Tricks

Practice- Know the pattern.
Knowing beforehand what the pattern and structure of the listening section look like is an added advantage. Attempting the section for the first time can be daunting for a layperson. Don't let yourself be in that position. Practice and familiarize for yourself with potential TOEFL questions.

Inculcate the habit of taking notes.
One of the biggest hurdles most students face while attempting the TOEFL Listening test is that they miss out on information. Therefore, making quick, concise and precise notes can’t be understated at any cost. Jotting down key points is imperative to answer the questions later.

Use Practice Material
Another challenge that many students encounter is not understanding the speaker's accent, diction or speed in the audio. To overcome this barrier, mock practice is imperative. There are loads of online materials available that can come in handy for students preparing for the TOEFL exam. Additionally, listen to podcasts, news broadcasts and more such content.

Broaden your vocabulary
Many words, phrases or idioms are said in the listening test, which some may only understand. Enhancing your vocabulary is always a great attribute and will always be beneficial while giving the listening test.

Don't forget to recheck in the end.
As a rule, always recheck and review your answers if time permits. Going through the answers for the second time helps spot errors that were overlooked or left blank initially. Do not panic if you miss out on any specific detail. Stay calm and try rereading e question. In some cases, one can predict the answers based on the context of the sentence.

As we navigate through this blog, it's evident that having basic knowledge about the TOEFL Listening section, including the pattern, structure, question types, and strategies, is an added advantage if one wishes to score more in the TOEFL exam. There is a misconception that the listening section of the TOEFL exam is challenging, but that is hardly the case if one has prepared and practiced thoroughly. Remember, there is no shortcut to working hard, so don't avoid it while preparing for the TOEFL Listening test.


The audio is only played once and is not repeated after that. Therefore, being attentive, alert and taking quick notes is essential.
The mode of the TOEFL Listening exam is only English. However, accents like Australian, British and American are commonly heard.
No, headphones are prohibited and cannot be worn during the TOEFL test. The audio is played on the speakers of the testing centre.
Depending on the number and length of lectures or conversations, the listening section can vary between 60 to 90 minutes.
Of course! Individuals are allowed to take notes during the listening test and must take them to jot down the fine details of the audio recordings.

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