TOEFL Listening

#1 Most Important TOEFL Listening Mastery Tip (Notes)



You must take active notes focusing on subjects, verbs, and objects.


Listen to a sentence's subject, verb, and object and takes notes on that. Don't simply take notes on what you hear. Listen actively for these grammatical powerhouses of meaning. This requires a strong shift for most students. We'll teach you how to make that shift in this chapter.


Chapter 2: TOEFL Listening Mastery: Taking Powerful Notes


Video introduction to this chapter of your TOEFL book:




Don't Feel Confused Or Stressed With The TOEFL Listening back to top




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Remember that NoteFull is here for you every step of the way: to answer your questions and guide you through difficulty. We will succeed.


TOEFL Listening Overview back to top


Whether you’re familiar with the exam or not. The following will explain every detail of the listening section and how to attack it.


When you finish the reading section, the listening section will follow. The instructions will appear on the screen for the section and they will be read out loud to you. Take this time to prepare yourself and make sure that you have a full set of 3 clean sheets of note-paper and your pencil is sharp and ready to write. If you don’t have any of these things, raise your hand and ask the proctor (the individual giving the exam) to provide you with whatever you are missing so that you’re fully prepared.


TOEFL Listening Sets back to top


You will go through the listening section in sets of 3. Each set contains the following:


    1 conversation: 3-5 minutes between a man and a woman

    1 lecture: 4-6 minutes of a professor delivering a speech by him- or herself

    1 discussion lecture: 4-6 minutes of a professor interacting with students


You will have the following number of questions for each listening:


    1 conversation: 5 questions

    1 lecture: 6 questions

    1 discussion lecture: 6 questions


That’s a total of 17. You will have 10 minutes to complete these 17 questions.


TOEFL Listening Timing back to top


This is a little tricky to explain, so pay careful attention and it will be easy. First, after the conversation or lecture finishes, you will have one question appear on the screen. The question will be read out loud to you. When the narrator finishes saying the question, the timer will start. This will occur throughout each set of listenings.


The timer will only count down in the silence that follows the narrator reading the question. Of all the sections, this is the only one where students don’t need much help with timing: 10 minutes is actually enough. Still, here’s a general breakdown for how much time you should spend on each listening. Each question should take you about 35 seconds to answer.


    10 min. - 7 min.: answer 1 - 5 of the conversation (3 min)

    7 min. - 3:30 min.: answer 6 - 11 of the lecture (3 min 30 sec)

    3:30 min. - 0 min.: answer 12 - 17 of the discussion lecture (3 min 30 sec)


Be aware that sometimes the order of the listenings will change in a set, so you might hear the discussion lecture first. However, this doesn’t happen often. You should also memorize the total time for each listening, which is in parentheses ().


When one set finishes, the other will begin shortly. Again, each set will contain exactly 3 listenings: a conversation, lecture, and discussion lecture. You will always complete a total of 2 scored sets. Sometimes though, you will get an experimental set. That’s right. You’ll have another 3 listenings to do.


The final experimental set will not be graded and though most students (including myself) have found that the last set is the experimental one, don’t risk it. Do your best throughout and know that 90% of students will have an experimental set in either the reading, the listening, or both sections.


As a side note, when the test first came out, I noticed that it was really random. Sometimes I would get no experimental sets and sometimes I would find an experimental set in both the listening and the reading. Now, I find that just about all students get an experimental set, but only one. Send us an email if you get none or both  to help us stay up-to-date.


Attacking the TOEFL Listening back to top


First and foremost, you must take good notes as you listen actively throughout the entire listening. Many students struggle with this. They take either no notes--so they miss important information--or too many notes--so they sacrifice understanding and comprehension. No matter what, take notes. Build the skill and you will improve.


Every now and then, a student will tell me that they score high and take no notes. They tell me that notes distract them. Immediately I think, well, you would score even higher if you did, but if your score is high enough, don’t change what works for you. However, if you’re reading this, then you want to get the best score that you can, so take notes.


If you find that notes distract you, experiment with your notes. It’s like saying that exercise makes you weaker. Yes, in the beginning it might, but over time it builds your strength immensely and you can’t be as strong as you can be without it. I hope that analogy makes sense.


TOEFL Listening Question Types and Strategy back to top


Just as in the reading, the same question types will appear again and again in the listening section. The difference is that we don’t have a reading to refer to but only our notes and our memory. As a result, strategy for this question is not too intense but a general guide to aid in your choosing the correct answers. Below are the types.


Main Idea, Detail, Choose 2 or 3 detail, Inference, Attitude, Purpose


Read every answer choice and read each word carefully before choosing an answer. You are missing points because of this. Notice that there’s no modal there: may, might, could. It’s a fact: you are missing points because of this, so write that statement on your notes when you take the test and when you practice. Your score will improve if you remember this consistently and apply it for every single question.


Main Idea


This question is easy to spot. It’s usually the first question that you’ll find after the listening and it has the word “mainly” in it. Here are two examples


What does the lecture mainly discuss?

What is the main topic of the lecture?


This is often the easiest for students but it can be tricky. The listening will usually start by introducing the topic in the first few sentences and then discuss it for the rest of the lecture. The main idea here is easy: it’s the topic and described in the beginning of the lecture.




These questions ask you for the same information as the readings: facts from the information presented. Essentially, answering these correctly relies on your notes. The better your notes are, the better you’ll do. They ask you to identify facts in the reading and often begin with WH- questions. Here are two examples.


What is the major source of meteoric water?

What are the two reasons the woman doesn’t feel safe?


The best strategy is to identify the key word or words in the question. Find where they  appear in your notes and choose an answer that contains key words in your notes that are closest to the topic. Wrong answers often come from words you heard in the lecture but appear distant from when the topic was discussed.


Inference & Listen again


Just as with the reading, these are tough. They ask you to make a small jump from the information that you heard, but instead of being able to refer to the information (as you can in the reading), you must remember it from your notes. As a result, these questions pose a strong challenge to students who have difficulty listening. They contain strong clue words: infer, imply, or suggest. Here are two examples.


What does the officer imply when he says this:

What does the professor imply about the importance of surface tension in water?


To improve, focus on the same strategy as with the detail question and remember that this requires a small jump in logic. Often times, it requires you to make a logical association. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you hear part of a lecture like this:


Tommy likes apples. Because he likes apples, he decided to go to the beach. When he was at the beach, he met his friend Billy.


An inference from this question would be:


Billy met Tommy because Tommy likes apples.


Even though you didn’t read this exactly; it came from making a small jump within the information given.  


Attitude & Opinion


Similar to inference questions, these ask you to look at the way that information is presented to make a judgement on the person delivering the speech. Tone and inflection can be a guide, but it rarely leads to the correct answer. Instead, be aware of adjectives, adverbs, and the overall direction of the lecture or conversation. Here are a few examples of what these questions will look like.


What is the professor’s attitude toward those who take the existence of groundwater for granted?

What is the professor’s opinion about using pterosaur ancestors to learn more about pterosaurs themselves?


Answers will usually fall into one of three categories: criticism, neutrality, or support. As a way to ensure that you get these question right, take notes on words that indicate where the professor stands on what he’s discussing. 


Purpose & Listen again


When dealing with these questions, you must know what the statement is doing in the logical flow of the lecture or conversation. Of course, this is easy to say and not so easy to do. These questions ask you to identify the purpose of a specific statement or reference made. Here are two examples:


Why does the professor mention the railroad industry’s intense competition and price wars?

Why does the professor mention New York City and Boston?


To answer these questions well, we must understand that the key words in the question served a purpose in the development of the topic. What kind of development?







Adverbs and surrounding content will help you identify the answer to these questions. 


Click here for more help with the TOEFL listening before your next test.


TOEFL Listening Answering Strategy back to top


When answering, remember that you cannot return to a question later on. Once you answer a question, you will not be allowed to return to it. That’s why you must click on the answer, then click on next, then click on confirm before you are sent to the next question. They ask you to confirm your answer twice because that’s your last chance at it. Remember this and you’ll be fine.


As you practice, to stay close to the conditions of the exam, don’t review your answers to this section: once you’ve chosen, the question is finished and the answer cannot be changed. Remember that the more you create exam like conditions as you practice the more prepared you’ll be for success.


With the basics of the listening section down, it’s time to learn how to sky-rocket our score by learning about powerful note-taking.


TOEFL Listening Powerful Note-taking back to top


Remember that everyone takes notes differently, so you don't have to have the exact same words in your notes as we do, but they should be similar. And without good notes, you may be getting a good score, but not nearly as good as you could get if you built your note-taking skill. Also, don't overanalyze too much. I talk in great detail to give you a good overview of what it means to be an active listener and a good note-taker, so take your time to integrate what you learn as you learn it. Don't work to be perfect; just work to improve gradually and comfortably.


First, listen to the lecture and take notes by yourself naturally. Then, look at my notes and compare yours. How are they different? How are they similar? 


Listen First



Compare Notes



Listen and Follow along


Now, listen to my paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the transcript of the lecture and how to take notes on it effectively. If you need to hear the lecture again, be sure to do so; take your time. Rushing rarely leads to improvement. 








Final Remarks on Strong TOEFL Note-taking


Finally, listen to my explanation of my notes and the way to easily test if you're note-taking is effective. Good luck! 




This is the moment of truth. It's time to put all of your knowledge to the test with the following listenings. Make sure to review and master what you've just learned before you attempt the listenings. 


TOEFL Listening Practice back to top


Please listen to the following conversation and lecture. Take notes and then answer the following questions in the form below. Good luck!


Conversation: Listening 1



1. Why does the student go to see the professor?

A) To get help with the concepts in a reading assignment

B) To ask for more time to complete an assigned report

C) To find out important information about course requirements

D) To discuss a theory the professor mentioned in class


2. What does the professor say about class assignments? Choose TWO answers.

A) All projects will include a report.

B) Everyone must complete two projects.

C) Students have a choice of assignment types.

D) All work is due at the end of the semester.


3. According to the professor, what is the advantage of working on a “comprehensive” project?

A) It requires less wok than the focused project.

B) It may be more useful later when looking for a job.

C) It gives the students the opportunity to learn more.

D) It is usually more interesting than the focused project.


4. What can be inferred about the student’s plans?

A) He has scheduled a job interview at an advertising firm.

B) He will not take any marketing classes next semester.

C) He has not yet decided on a possible career.

D) He will miss more classes to attend student council meetings.


Listen again to part of the conversation. Then answer question 5.



5. What does the professor mean when he says this?

A) The student should take his class work more seriously.

B) Class assignments may help the student in job interviews.

C) The student should become more involved with some campus sports activities.

D) An on-campus job would provide the student with valuable experience.


Lecture: Listening 2



1. What is this lecture mainly about?

A) The history of advertising methods

B) A study of children’s reactions to advertising

C) The ways advertisers try to attract consumers

D) Research on consumers’ spending habits


2. What does the professor imply about the relationship between psychology and business?

A) Businesspeople should be more open in expressing their emotions.

B) Advertisers need to understand psychological principles.

C) Psychologists must learn how to advertise their services.

D) Psychology students should take classes in business.


3. Why does the professor talk about blue jeans?

A) To comment on historical trends in popular clothing

B) To give an example of a product unlikely to be promoted using fear

C) To discuss the clothing preferences of college students

D) To discuss the importance of finding the right pair


4. According to the professor, what factors influence customers’ reactions to advertising? Choose TWO answers.

A) Their desire to satisfy basic biological needs

B) Their opinion of the company that makes the product

C) Their hope of building better social relationships

D) Their perception of the quality of the product


5. According to the professor, what is the message of some advertising for children’s toys?

A) Parents should buy toys that are educational.

B) New toys are designed better than older toys.

C) Parents and children should play with toys together.

D) A child with a new toy will have more friends.


Listen again to part of the lecture. Then answer question 6.



6. What does the professor imply when she says this?

A) There was a good reason for putting people in the picture.

B) She does not remember the main point of her lecture.

C) The advertiser forgot to consider basic human instincts.

D) She wants students to learn how to develop advertisements correctly.


Submit Your TOEFL Listening Answers back to top


This will allow us to gather student answers and see the trickiest questions for you and create the best lessons for our class as a result.



TOEFL Listening Practice Answers back to top


Conversation: Listening 1


1) C

2) A, C

3) B

4) C

5) B


Lecture: Listening 2


1) C

2) B

3) B

4) A, C

5) D

6) A


Calculate Your TOEFL Listening Score back to top


The way that we will understand the score that we are going to receive on the TOEFL exam is by doing a little bit of math. First, remember that the TOEFL listening section is scored out of 30 points. 


1. Count the total number of answers that you got correct.

2. Question 2 of listening 1 and 4 of l2 is worth 2 points.

If you chose 2 out of 2 correctly, you earn 2 points.

If you chose 1 correctly, you earn one point.

3. Divide the number of correct answers by 13. 

4. Multiply the number in step 3 by 30.

This number is your TOEFL listening score.

5. Record the dates, the name of the listening, and your score in your notebook.


Remember To Master This Chapter Before Moving On back to top


Memorize the strategy, vocabulary, and listening content in this page. It will help you tremendously. It's the only way to improve your TOEFL score in a big way. After doing so, let's move to the next chapter.




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Nazneen wrote on Tuesday November 29, 2016 12:40am
Where are the audio files? Someone please fix them!
Rated 4 of 5 Stars

john wrote on Tuesday May 31, 2016 10:43am
this is a very good site for TOEFL preparation
Rated 4 of 5 Stars

Sukhleen wrote on Wednesday May 4, 2016 3:31am
India is a democratic country , even more than it , it is the largest democratic country in the world. Democracy means equality or freedom. But what kind of equality is existing in our country? I am completely unable to understand. Our constitution was made my Dr. Bheam Rao Ambedkar in 114 days. Many amendments has been made in it. Despite of these amendments we are deprived of equal rights. Time has changed now and with changing time we need to change our constitution. Women should be given equal rights. They should be given equal wages as per wages act . Instead of any reservation she should be given equal opportunity as man for government jobs. Their world is no more confined to their family and home, she has stepped out of her house and today she is strong enough to face the world boldly. Today's woman is no more dependent on man and can move about freely without any fear. So, it is a right time to grant her with equal rights to compete with men. Secondly, I do not like caste system in India. The people of nation are divided among themselves and are classified into different groups such as scheduled caste, backward class, Dalits, OBC, and General etc. Such division breaks the unity of the nation and results in inequality. I think that people of all the classes should be put under one name that is Humanity. That would be more appropriate and will unite the nation. For the betterment of India we need to make some amendments in the constitution of India so that democracy would no more be misunderstood. It is not only my dream but dream of every Indian who knows the real meaning of democracy and values humanity more than anything else. The need is to raise voice and the others will surely follow if they have heart which beats for India and all its nationals.

davoud wrote on Thursday December 18, 2014 8:45am
For downloading audio files find the place of player then right click and select "inspect element" below the page little window will be open, there you can find the link of .mp3 file by hovering the mouse you can recognize the exact place of player, So you can copy the URL address and download. {The only way I could download the files}

Seda wrote on Monday November 3, 2014 9:44am
Hi I took the TOEFL exam three time, once three years ago, one 6 months ago and last yesterday. all have a three part listening section.Surprisingly, a lecture was repeated in all three tests and ,in fact, it was in the last part. I think, that it was the second part which is not graded.
Rated 5 of 5 Stars

Mohammad wrote on Thursday October 23, 2014 2:35am
what about Note-taking audio files