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  • 7 Secrets to Acing the TOEFL’s Listening Section


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    Watch and listen to TV shows and podcasts on many different subjects

    The TOEFL’s listening section uses lectures on a number of different subjects ranging from American literature to astronomy. Because different fields of study involve different sets of vocabulary, you need to watch and listen to diverse recordings.

    Follow along with transcripts

    On the TOEFL, you’ll have the opportunity to read a transcript of the audio lecture, but you won’t be able to look back at the transcript when you answer the questions. Following along with a written transcript while someone reads the content out loud is a good way to improve your comprehension and prepare for the test.

    Familiarize yourself with lectures in English

    You’ll need to be able to comprehend university lectures in English not just to pass the TOEFL but to succeed at an English-language university. You can get used to typical lecture formats and pace by downloading recordings from Great Courses, a series of audio lectures from real English-speaking university professors. Here’s an excellent example of a course called Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations.

    Listen to music in English

    When you first start listening to music in English, it will probably sound like the lyrics are going by incredibly quickly. After listening to a favorite song several times, though, you’ll notice that it’s easier to pick out English words and comprehend the lyrics. Listening to music also allows you to get more comfortable with the cadence and stress patterns of spoken English.

    Play the recording only once on your practice tests

    As the test date draws closer, it’s important to get used to the TOEFL format. On the actual exam, you will only hear each recording once, so you need to learn to listen well without repeating the recording.

    Listen for main ideas

    The recorded lectures on the TOEFL include a lot of material, so it’s essential to focus on the things that are most likely to come up in questions. Train yourself to focus on the main ideas, arguments, and key details of a lecture. Practice listing them after listening to a lecture or other recording.

    Give yourself plenty of time to practice

    Start studying for the TOEFL at least six months before you plan to take it so you’ll feel confident in your abilities when the exam day arrives.


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