In the TOEFL iBT Listening section you will listen to four to six lectures and two to three conversations. There will be six questions per lecture and five questions per conversation. You will have a total of 60 to 90 minutes to answer all of the Listening questions.
TOEFL iBT Listening Materials
There are two types of Listening materials on the TOEFL iBT, conversations and lectures. Both are based on the actual speech that is used in North American colleges and universities.
Each lecture or conversation is three to six minutes long and, as far as possible, represents authentic academic language. For example, a professor giving a lecture may digress somewhat from the main topic, interactions between students and the professor can be extensive, and explanations of content can be elaborate. Features of oral language such as false starts, misspeaks with self corrections, and repetitions are included. The speakers who record the texts are encouraged to use their own speech patterns (e.g., pauses, hesitations), as long as they preserve the content of the text. You should take notes during the lectures and conversations. This material is not meant to test your memory.
There are two types of conversations in TOEFL:
b service encounters
These conversations are typical of those that occur on North American university campuses. Office hours are interactions that take place in a professor’s office. The content may be academic or related to course requirements. For example, in an office conversation a student could request an extension on a due date (non academic content), or a student could ask for clarification about the content of a lecture (academic content). Service encounters are interactions that take place on a university campus and have non-academic content. Examples include inquiring about a payment for housing or registering for class. Each conversation is followed by five questions.
Lectures in TOEFL iBT represent the kind of language used when professors teach in a classroom. The lecture excerpt may be just a professor speaking, a student asking the professor a question, or the professor asking the students a question and calling on one student for a response. Each lecture is approximately 5 minutes in length and is followed by six questions.
The content of the lectures reflects the content that is presented in introductory- level academic settings. Lecture topics cover a broad range of subjects. You will not be expected to have any prior knowledge of the subject matter. All the information you need to answer the questions will be contained in the Listening passage. The lists below are provided to give you an idea of the topics that typically appear in the Listening section. In general these topics are divided into four
Arts lectures may be on topics such as:
Crafts: weaving, knitting, fabrics, furniture, carving, mosaics, ceramics, etc; folk and tribal art
Music and music history
Literature and authors
Books, newspapers, magazines, journals
Life Science lectures may be on topics such as:
Extinction of or conservation efforts for animals and plants
Fish and other aquatic organisms
Bacteria and other one-celled organisms
Physiology of sensory organs
Animal Habitats and the adaptation of animals and plants to them
Nutrition and its impact on the body
Physical Science lectures may be on topics such as:
Weather and atmosphere
Glaciers, glacial landforms, ice ages
Deserts and other extreme environments
Pollution, alternative energy, environmental policy
Other planets’ atmospheres
Astronomy and cosmology
Properties of light, optics
Properties of sound
Technology of TV, radio, radar
Chemistry of inorganic things
Seismology (plate structure, earthquakes, tectonics, continental drift, structure of volcanoes)
Social Science lectures may be on topics such as:
Anthropology of non-industrialized civilizations
Early writing systems
Business, management, marketing, accounting
TV/radio as mass communication
Social behavior of groups, community dynamics, communal behavior
Modern history (including the history of urbanization and industrialization and their economic and social effects)
TOEFL iBT Listening Questions
Most of the TOEFL iBT Listening questions that follow the lectures and conversations are traditional multiple-choice questions with four answer choices and a single correct answer. There are, however, some other types of questions:
Multiple-choice questions with more than one answer (for example, two answers out of four or more choices)
Questions that require you to put in order events or steps in a process
Questions that require you to match objects or text to categories in a tableal behavior, e.g., migration, food foraging, defensive behavior
Some questions replay a part of the lecture or conversation. In these replay questions, you will hear a part of the lecture or conversation again. You will then be asked a multiple-choice question about what you have just heard.
There are eight types of questions in the Listening section. These types are divided into three categories as follows:
TOEFL Listening Question Types
Basic Comprehension Questions
Pragmatic Understanding Questions
4. Understanding the Function of What Is Said
5. Understanding the Speaker’s Attitude
Connecting Information Questions
6. Understanding Organization
7. Connecting Content
8. Making Inferences
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