Test Preparation

How to Prepare for TOEFL Listening Section?

How to Prepare for TOEFL Listening Section?

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Give your preparation for TOEFL listening section a boost with our study guide. Know syllabus, books, websites, study tips and get practice papers!

Madhuwrita Nandi
Updated on:  12 Mar 2024  | Reviewed By: 
| 6.68K | 6  min read

The TOEFL Listening Section aims at testing the ability of the candidate to understand spoken English. It consists of academic lectures and longer conversations in which speech flows freely. It judges if the student would be able to fit well in a native English speaking academic set up. This section has a score range of 0-30 and 5 levels of estimating proficiency- Advanced ranging from 22 to 30, High Intermediate ranging from 17 to 21, Low intermediate ranging from 9 to 16, and Below Low Intermediate ranging from 0 to 8.

  1. list items What is the TOEFL Listening Exam Pattern?
  2. list items How to Prepare for the TOEFL Listening Section?
  3. list items What are Good Resources for TOEFL Listening Practice?
  4. list items Where can I get Questions for TOEFL Listening Practice?
  5. list items How to Prepare for TOEFL Listening Section One Week Before the Exam?

The Listening section of TOEFL exam can have other accents besides North American, like that of the UK, New Zealand, or Australia. In order to be best prepared, candidates should read English books, listen to audio-books, join and participate in English conversation groups offline and online, listen to the radio and music in English, watch English movies with subtitles in English, solve practice tests.  


What is the TOEFL Listening Exam Pattern?

The TOEFL Listening section requires the candidates to Listen for Basic Comprehension, Listen for Pragmatic Understanding, and Connecting and Synthesizing Information. It consists of 28-39 questions and takes about 41 to 57 minutes. In the TOEFL Listening Exam, there are 3-4 lectures, each being 3 to 5 minutes long. Each lecture is followed by 6 questions. There are 2-3 conversations, each about 3 minutes long. Each conversation is followed by 5 questions.

The  TOEFL Listening Exam Pattern may ask the following types of questions: 

  • list items Solve multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer
  • list items Put events or steps in order
  • list items Match objects or text to categories in a table

How to Prepare for the TOEFL Listening Section?

  • list items For the TOEFL listening practice, students should focus on lectures that reflect the kind of speaking and listening that occurs in a classroom. The conversations might be related to an official setting with a professor or during a service encounter with university staff. The content of the conversation is usually academic in nature. Service encounters might be about conversations regarding registering for a class, housing payment, or request for information at the library.
  • list items The best and easiest way to increase vocabulary and improve listening skills is listening to English frequently and reading academic materials extensively. Listening to more engaging entertainment material like movies or audiobooks can also benefit largely. Many universities and libraries make public lectures online available to students. Transcripted lectures can also be helpful. 
  • list items Candidates should also refer to lectures from various domains like science, humanities, management, etc., and the topics to be studied should progress with increasing length and difficulty. They should also take notes on the main ideas and important details. Only keywords should be written, not every word, so as to save time. Candidates can keep a log of new words and expressions they hear and check the spelling and meaning from a dictionary. After listening to a particular conversation or lecture, the students should ask themselves the basic questions of- What, When, Where, Who, Why and How.
  • list items While listening to academic lectures, students must keep track of conceptually complex information over extended portions of a lecture, which can often be conflicting. One should also know how to differentiate the main idea from filler information. Students should listen to podcasts, watch movies or TV series in not only British English but also in American or Australian English to be familiar with the accents. 
  • list items Students should understand how information or examples are being used, and how different bits of information are connected. Preparing by watching interviews can also be beneficial because they offer visual reinforcement and cues. For a brain-stimulating exercise, students can copy a script from an online news story, movie, or podcast and lecture and delete every fifth word from the script. Then they can try listening to the recording and insert in the missing words. The students need not memorise low-frequency technical vocabulary as such words are often defined within a text or listening passage. Rather they should focus on learning a high-frequency language which overlaps all disciplines. They must also develop an understanding of phrasal verbs and common idioms for help in TOEFL Listening Exam.
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What are Good Resources for TOEFL Listening Practice?

For help with resources, candidates can refer to the following sites -

  • list items www.npr.org 
  • list items www.cnn.com/services/podcasting
  • list items www.youthradio.org
  • list items www.bbc.co.uk/radio 
  • list items www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish
  • list items https://www.ets.org/s/toefl/pdf/toefl_student_test_prep_planner.pdf

The following books can be referred to for help -

  • list items The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test
  • list items Official TOEFL iBT® Tests, Volume 2
  • list items Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 1
  • list items TOEFL iBT® Test Prep Planner

Following is an app that can prove fruitful in preparation -  

TOEFL iBT® Practice Sets, TOEFL iBT® Free Practice Test, TOEFL Value Packs can also be purchased from your ETS account.

The following websites amd channels can also help -


Where can I get Questions for TOEFL Listening Practice?

Students can refer to the ETS website which offers a variety of TOEFL listening practice online materials including TOEFL listening practice test and free sample questions.
You can access them here: 

  • list items https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/free_practice_test
  • list items https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/practice_sets/

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How to Prepare for TOEFL - Overall Preparation Tips?

  • list items Start with the preparations much in advance 
  • list items Studying as per a time-table 
  • list items Revise and practise regularly
  • list items Focus on conceptual clarity 
  • list items Devise time-management strategies
  • list items Practice mock tests 
  • list items Consult seniors/mentors to clear any doubts 

How to Prepare for TOEFL Listening Section One Week Before the Exam?

  • list items Focus more on practising the skills you already have than learning something new.
  • list items Try to make your mind comfortable with the idea of an exam. Do not be anxious. 
  • list items Devote the first four days of the week to each section of the test. For the listening section, follow the aforementioned preparation tips for the listening section. Most importantly, listen to as many English podcasts as you can. 
  • list items Consult someone who has given the exam once for any related help. 
  • list items Do not memorise your answers.
  • list items Hopefully, you have spent the last one month practising diligently, and that will show in your TOEFL result. Be positive. Do not panic and take a good night’s sleep. 



Tips For the Exam Day

  • list items Listening to the demands of recording a lot of attention. There are a lot of fillers like ‘umms’, ‘likes’, ‘you know’ which can easily divert your attention.  
  • list items Remember that you are allowed to listen to a recording only for once. So pay as much attention as you can to the recording.   
  • list items Reach the examination centre early, preferably half an hour before the designated time. 
  • list items Don’t forget to carry your ID, pen, pencil and eraser. 
  • list items Listen to all the instructions very carefully.
  • list items Take notes in shorthand or keywords to save time. 
  • list items Dress in layers so as to be comfortable in any room temperature. 
  • list items Do not take in phones, watches or any other electronic device in the examination room. 

Acing the TOEFL listening section is not rocket science. With diligent preparations and carefully devised strategies, one can crack the section with flying colours. And if you need additional guidance with TOEFL preparation, do not hesitate to give us a call. We have tied up with TOEFL experts who know the nitty-gritty of TOEFL and will give you the perfect assistance related to TOEFL preparation. Don’t wait, get in touch with us, and we will connect you with our partners.

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