TOEFL Listening Tips

Tips & Strategies To Ace TOEFL Listening Section

The test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL) is an examination or test to assess the English language ability of individuals who are not native English speakers but are wishing to enroll in English – speaking universities. The test usually last for four hours and consists of four main sections, each measuring one of the basic language skills commonly used in higher academic educational environments in English speaking universities.

The Listening section is one of the main sections of the examination consisting usually of questions on six passages with each lasting about three to four minutes. The passages involve usually of two conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. The conversations involve a student on one side and a senior person mostly a professor on the other. The lectures on the other side are a self-contained portion of an academic nature, which sometimes may involve the student participating though, does not assume absolute background knowledge of the subject being discussed. Each interactive session and lecture passage is heard once only. Test-takers may jot down salient points during the ensuing conversation as they may refer to these points when they begin answering the questions. Each conversation is associated with five questions and each lecture with six. The questions are meant to measure the ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, relationships between ideas, organization of information, speaker purpose and speaker attitude.

Major tips and strategies that may help prospective test-takers are enumerated below:

  1. Familiarization with TOEFL past questions listening sections: it is important for one to go through past questions of TOEFL to help become familiar with the format of the examination and what is usually expected
  2. Check for the theme, ideas and organization of the lecture: it is always important for test-takers to pay attention to the lecture while identifying the main theme, the ideas, their organization and the linkages in the ideas espoused as it would form the concepts of the questions.
  3. Taking or writing down salient points: During listening, test –takers should at all times jot down the main ideas, abbreviate big words and make summaries of the main ideas.
  4. Pay attention to the speaker’s voice: The tone of the voice of the speaker would help one to be able to answer the aspect that assesses the attitude of the speaker. It is important therefore to critically assess the voice for excitement, sorrow, aggressiveness and confusion.
  5. Identify signal words and connections to key ideas: Identification of signal words such as ‘seldom, and, henceforth, with, usually etc.’ during listening will help one to know the moment one idea is been switched to the other and this help to thematically jot down salient points.
  6. Practice listening sections in your leisure: when preparing for the test, one should always practice listening sections by listening recorded audio conversations, more academic recordings and less music.
  7. Pay attention when questions are asked during the conversation: responses to questions asked in the conversation would sometimes give much information to the main theme of the conversation. This may not be the case in other instances as these are included to test one’s ability to understand the context of what you heard.
  8. Determine the purpose of the conversation: one need to understand the purpose of the conversation. In some instances the conversation may be about conflict resolution, informal conversation or finding solution to a problem. Understanding the purpose of the conversation will help one to directly follow the conversation well.
  9. Keep it simple.Always keep everything simple for your understanding. Do not write everything down. When taking notes for conversations, always differentiate between the different characters in the conversation and what each says. Remember to write in simple terms for your understanding.
  10. Instances of doubt: If you are unsure of the correct response, try to figure out which choice is most consistent with the main idea of the conversation or lecture

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