About the TOEFL iBT Test - Listening Section

Academic Listening Skills

The Listening section measures your ability to understand spoken English. In academic settings, students must be able to listen to lectures and conversations. Academic listening is typically done for one of the three following purposes:

Listening for basic comprehension

  • Comprehend the main idea, major points, and important details related to the main idea (Comprehension of all details is not necessary.)
Listening for pragmatic understanding
  • Recognize a speaker's attitude and degree of certainty
  • Recognize the function or purpose of a speaker's statement
Connecting and synthesizing information
  • Recognize the organization of information presented
  • Understand the relationships between ideas presented (for example, compare/contrast, cause/effect, or steps in a process)
  • Make inferences and draw conclusion based on what is implied in the material
  • Make connections among pieces of information in a conversation or lecture
  • Recognize topic changes (for example, digressions and aside statements) in lecture and conversations, and recognize introductions and conclusions in lectures
Listening material in the test includes academic lectures and long conversations in which the speech sounds very natural. You can take notes on any listening material throughout the entire test.

After the listening material is played, you both see and hear each question before you see the answer choices. This encourage you to listen for main ideas.

There are four question formats in the Listening section:
  • Traditional multiple-choice questions with four answer choices and a single correct answer
  • Multiple-choice questions with more than one answer (for example, two correct answers out of four choices or three answers out of five choices)
  • Questions that require you to order events or steps in a process
  • Questions that require you to match objects or text to categories in a chart
Source: The Official guide to the TOEFL Test - Fourth Edition


This is important to remember while you are browsing IELTS or TOEFL preparation course, if you are planning on applying for citizenship or collage and intend to use your results as an entry requirement.

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