Top 10 Listening Tips for the TOEFL iBT® Test

Top 10 Listening Tips for the TOEFL iBT® test and Paper English Language Tests

1. Take past TOEFL® listening tests and become familiar with the format. Quickly read the comprehension questions before the recording begins – this helps you to listen out for key points – often there is a lot of content that you will not be tested on – keep your focus and energy for the points that count!

2. Practice note taking whenever you are listening to something in English – only write down key words or phrases, use abbreviations for long words and always write in English. Record only the major points – you will not have time to write down the minor, unimportant details in the exam.

3. Improve your vocabulary – the more words you know, the easier it will be for you to understand the listening section. Learn new vocab and save words you have trouble with by becoming an English, baby! Super member.

4. Listen for signal words that indicate major steps, changes or ideas such as seldom, at the moment, in 1975, so far, usually, often, up to now, at the moment. Make sure to also listen for repetition, synonyms and pronouns.

5. Download listening practice lessons, such as lessons on Daily English Audio and stop it at different times. Try to guess what will happen next! This is a great way to practice your ability to connect and combine ideas. Then go back and listen to the lesson in full and see how well you did.

6. Determine the purpose of a conversation or speech – what do you think the speakers are trying to do? Are they angry? Trying to resolve a conflict? Sad? Expressing an idea? Practice this technique every time you hear English including English movies or TV shows, daily English lessons on English, baby!, even people you hear speaking English on the street! This will help you focus on the key points and improve your ability to filter out information that is not necessary for theTOEFL® listening exam questions.

7. Recognize key points – who or what is the conversation about? What is the main point of the lecture? Why are they talking about this? Remember, the TOEFL® listening exam is testing your comprehension, not your ability to memorize and repeat what you have just heard!

8. Find connections between ideas – how do these points connect to the key ideas of the passage? If they do NOT connect to the key ideas, they are probably not the major ideas of the passage and you should not focus on them.

9. Pay attention when someone in the exercise asks a question – often it is a clue that information is about to be given. However, this is not always true so be careful for responses that sound a lot like the answer to a question. Listen very carefully as these responses are often there to test your ability to understand the context of what you heard.

10. Categorize the type of exercise you are listening to when taking practice TOEFL®listening tests. Ask yourself – is it a lecture (mostly one-sided and on academic topics) or a conversation (language is more informal, two or more people)? This will help you understand the flow of the conversation more clearly.
Practice your TOEFL® listening exam skills by taking the official TOEFL® online practice test today!