TOEFL Listening: Types of questions

After a conversation or lecture has finished, questions will appear on the screen one by one. Some questions in the Listening section will require students to listen again to an excerpt from the conversation or lecture. In these cases, the narrator will ask the students to listen to the excerpt.

Listening passages

The TOEFL Listening section measures a student’s ability to understand English as it is spoken in North American academic settings. The section contains:

Two conversations between two people (Each conversation is followed by five questions.)

 Two lectures with student comments and questions (Each lecture is followed by six questions.)

 Two straight lectures (Each of them is followed by six questions.)

Note that all conversations are set in an academic background. For example, it could be between a student and a professor or between a student and a university staff member. Each conversation averages two and a half minutes or more.

In each conversation, the student has a problem of some sort and is seeking the help of a professor or other university staff member.

The lectures could be on a range of academic topics. They do not expect the students to have any specialized knowledge in any field. However, a basic understanding of a variety of fields will make them much easier to understand. Each lecture averages four or five minutes.

You will hear idioms and colloquial expressions in both the conversations and lectures. You must also be prepared to hear pauses, interruptions, digressions, hesitations and false starts. These are all incorporated into the conversations to make them sound as authentic as possible.

Types of questions

All questions in the Listening section are multiple-choice questions with four options, with the exception of content relationship questions. The content relationship questions come in two formats. In the first format, students will be asked to choose the three correct answers from the five choices. In the second format, students will be asked to click Yes or No for each of the five questions.