TOEFL Listening Strategy


There are several listening strategies that will help you succeed in the TOEFL and after the TOEFL.

  • Get Organised:
 before you begin the Listening section on the official TOEFL, you will have an opportunity to adjust the volume on your headset. Be sure to do it before you dismiss the directions and begin the test. After the test has begun, you may not be able to adjust the volume. When you practice using the model tests, adjust the volume at the beginning. Learn to get it right without touching the volume button again during practice. Then, prepare to listen. The directions tend to be long and boring, especially if you have experience taking model tests and know what to do. Don’t get distracted. Be ready to hear the first word in the introduction to the first listening passage.
  • Adjust the volume
  • Prepare to listen.
  • Preview
: The introductions for the conversations and lectures contain important information that will help you prepare your mind to listen. For example, the narrator may say, “Now get ready to listen to a part of a lecture in a history class.” When you hear the introduction, you learn two useful facts. First, you know that you will be listening to a lecture. Second, you know that the lecture will be about history. This is helpful because it is a preview for the listening passage.
  • Pay attention to the introductory details
  • Glance at the photo.
  • Use visuals: 
The photographs and other visuals are there to provide a context for the conversations and lectures. In general, the pictures of people are for orientation to the conversations and lectures, whereas the visuals of objects, art, specimens, maps, charts, and drawings support the meaning of the conversations and lectures. Do not focus on the pictures of people. Do focus on the other visuals that appear during the conversations and lectures. They could reappear in a question. When you take the model tests, practice selective attention. Look briefly at the pictures of the professor and the students, but be alert to the other visuals. If you become too involved in looking at the people, you may pay less attention to the audio, and you could miss part of the passage.
  • Glance at the photos of people.
  • Focus on content visuals.
  • Read screen text
: during the questions for conversations and lectures, watch the screen carefully. You will hear the questions, and you will also see them on the screen. If you find that it is to your advantage to close your eyes or look away from the photo during the short conversations, be sure to give your full attention to the screen again while the questions are being asked and the answer choices are presented. By using the model tests, you will be able to develop a rhythm for interacting with the screen that is best for you.
  • Read the questions
  • Develop a rhythm.
  • Understand campus context: 
The conversations and lectures take place in a campus context. A glossary at the end of this book contains a listing of campus vocabulary. These words and phrases will help you understand the conversations between campus personnel, professors, and students. Pragmatic understanding will help you understand the function of sentence. A few examples of function are an apology, an explanation, or a way to get the listener’s attention or to change the topic. Pragmatic understanding will also help you interpret the speak- er’s attitude and the nature of the information- a fact or an opinion. Studying the glossary is an important strategy for the listening section.
• Learn campus vocabulary
• Study pragmatic cues for lectures.
  • Concentrate:
 Sometimes the environment for the TOEFL is not ideal. If the room is small, you may hear a very low hum from another headset or the scratch of pencils on paper when others are taking notes. These sounds can be distracting, especially during the Listening section. The earphones on your headset should suppress most of the noise, but it will be helpful if you have some strategies to help you concentrate. Some students press their earphones more tightly to their ears by holding them with their hands during long listening passages, but this may be clumsy for you when you reach for the mouse to answer questions. Other students train themselves to concentrate in a somewhat distracting environment by taking at least one model test in a small room where other people are studying, such as a library or a study lounge in a dormitory. Remember, you may not be able to control the test environment, but you can control your response to it. By keeping your eyes on the screen and the scratch paper and by remaining calm, you will be able to concentrate better. If the test situation is noisy, don’t get angry and start negative talk in your mind. Don’t let your emotions interfere with your concentration.
  • Focus on the test materials
  • Stay calm