Listening is the second part of the TOEFL exam.  Most of the students have much better listening skills and perform well in this part of the exam. If you can watch English movies and series without the aid of subtitles, then congratulations, you will easily score above the average. Even if you can’t, there is no need to worry at all. Not all the people who score great in TOEFL are movie lovers.

In this article, we will tell you how you can improve your listening skills and get above average score in TOEFL Listening. Keep reading the article to know more.

Overview of TOEFL Listening

The Listening Section of the TOEFL exam is the second longest part of the exam. Like other sections, it also carries a total score of 30. But in this section, you have to listen to the conversations, discussions, or lectures and then answer the questions. You have a total of 50 to 60 minutes for the entire task.

Normally it contains 2 to 3 conversations between two persons and about 3 to 4 lectures. First, you have to listen to one conversation or lecture and then answer the questions related to it in a limited time. The next conversation or lecture is played later. It does not matter whether you have completed the answers to the questions or not; when the time is over, the next conversation will be played automatically.

The purpose of this section is to judge how well you can understand spoken English. TOEFL Listening tests your ability to listen to conversations or lectures, analyze them quickly, and memorize important aspects of the talk. It will evaluate you on the basis of your ability to understand English and how you remember it. Of course, you don’t have to remember the entire talk or lecture, just memorize important parts of it.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

6 Tips to Score Better in TOEFL Listening

Here we will share with you some useful tips to ace your exam. Students who follow these guidelines can easily manage to score above average.

Tip 1: Listen carefully

The first and most important thing is to be mentally prepared while listening to lectures or conversations. You should not have any other ideas floating in your mind while listening. Many students who are unable to perform well in the first part of the exam become depressed and obsessed with the thoughts of failure. During the listening part, they become absent-minded, and thus, don’t pay enough attention. This approach is completely wrong and can ruin your score. Even if you were unable to perform well in the first part, you can get a maximum score in the TOEFL Listening Section by attentively listening to the lectures so you can answer the questions correctly.

Tip 2: Take notes while listening

Many students are overconfident about their memory. They don’t take notes while listening to conversations or lectures. However, they often forget the important topics and thus fail to answer the questions properly.

No matter how good your memory is, always take notes while listening. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should write each and every word. You will not have enough time for that after all. Instead, note only the important points and facts that are difficult to remember. You can also write words in short forms to save time. These notes will help you a lot while answering the questions.

Tip 3: Do a quick analysis while listening

You will not have enough time to think about what you have listened to while giving answers in the TOEFL Listening Section. Don’t just listen to the lectures or conversations but also analyze them as well. Think of how the ideas are connected to one another. What is the body and conclusion of the entire talk? What is the main idea of the conversation? Often the first question is about the main idea. In this way, you can easily attempt the questions without wasting time.

Tip 4: Manage your time wisely

Time Management is important while giving answers. Don’t spend most of the time on one answer. Otherwise, you will not be left with enough time to answer other questions. If you are stuck on a particular question, skip it. But keep in mind that once you skip a question, you can never go back to it. So, make the decision wisely. The more questions you skip, the lower the score you will get. If you are unsure about the answer to a question, our advice is to select an answer that is closely related to the main topic. Try not to skip a number of questions.

Tip 5: Types of questions

The questions asked in this section belong to categories, which are very common in TOEFL Listening Section. Understanding these categories will help you on exam day. Here we will list some of them:

  • Detail Questions: In these questions, you will be asked about a particular detail mentioned in the conversation or lecture. They don’t ask about the minor details. Only details about the main idea of the topic are important. Your notes will help you with these questions.
  • Inference Questions: In these questions, you will have to use your reasoning to deduce or infer answers from the conversation or lecture. They include deducing the idea behind a particular talk, the reason why a person gave a particular reply in the conversation, etc. They are a little tricky but using your mind will help you tackle these questions.
  • Attitude Questions: They are related to the attitude or feelings of a particular speaker. You have to focus on the tone and the words of the speakers to answer these questions. These are very obvious and easy questions. You just have to figure out the speaker’s feelings, or what is his attitude towards the other speaker, etc.

Tip 6: Common mistakes

Students fail this exam because of their own mistakes. Common mistakes include: not attentively listening, not taking notes or trying to write every word, disorganized management of time, getting distracted by the surroundings,  and leaving the main idea unexplored, among others.


If you avoid the above mistakes and stick to our guidelines strictly, you can easily score more than 25 in this part of the TOEFL Listening Section. We hope that this article will serve as a guide to your upcoming TOEFL exam. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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