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The only way you can guarantee being well-prepared for your upcoming TOEFL test is by understanding the structure. Since the exam consists of four sections, in this article, we will only be focusing on the TOEFL Listening test.

In this guide, we will learn all about:

  • What is the pattern of the TOEFL IBT Listening Test?
  • Types of exercises of the TOEFL Listening test.
  • All the tips you need to ace the test and improve your listening.
  • Where to find exercises to train for the listening test.
  • How to prepare for the TOEFL IBT with GlobalExam.

Ready? Let’s get started.

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TOEFL Listening Section: Structure, Format and Overview

The Listening section of the TOEFL iBT test is designed to estimate your English proficiency when it comes to understanding lectures and conversations. The test includes listening for basic comprehension, connecting and synthesizing information, and pragmatic information, which is the attitude of certainty of the speaker.

The standard TOEFL Listening section includes 28 questions and is 41 minutes long with 3 lectures and 2 conversations. Meanwhile, the experimental questions include 39 questions and last for 57 minutes with 4 lectures and 3 conversations.

The following tables will simplify it for you:

Standard Listening

DurationTasksTime to answerScoringCommon Topics
41 minutes long28 questions (3 lectures, 2 conversations)10 minutesOut of 30Academic topics and university subjects: Education, Science, Arts, History, Social Sciences, etc

Experimental Listening

DurationTasksTime to answerScoringCommon Topics
57 minutes long39 questions (4 lectures, 3 conversations)10 minutesOut of 30Academic topics and university subjects: Education, Science, Arts, History, Social Sciences, etc

We will be going over the Listening section of the TOEFL IBT test. However, if you wish to consult the other sections, please refer to the following articles:

TOEFL Listening Exercise Type #1: Multiple Choice Questions

TOEFL Listening multiple-choice questions provide 4 answer options, and the majority of the time, you will be able to select one correct answer only. However, there will always be a few questions with two correct answers on the test. In rare cases, you may encounter a question with three correct answers, but don’t expect it too much. In general, just follow the instructions of the question.

Listen to this recording and answer the questions down below:

What is the student speaking about with the professor?
When did they make their appointment for?
What are the professor's office hours?

woman with airpods on

TOEFL Listening Exercise Type #2: Categorization Questions

This is relatively uncommon but it is not impossible in the TOEFL Listening section format. The categorization questions might be found at least once during the test day, and sometimes, you might find them two or three times. The TOEFL Listening categorization questions are formatted as tables of categories and information. By using checkmarks, you will be indicating which category belongs to which information.

All the Tips You Need for the TOEFL Listening Test

In order to help you ace your TOEFL test and get a score of your dreams, we wisely picked three special tips that will definitely be a great help for you.

Don’t preoccupy yourself with things you didn’t hear well

Since you obviously want to do the best you could during the Listening test, you will be trying your hardest to keep up with the pace of speech in the audio clips. You may not miss a word, but there is a chance a few words would slip up. Don’t worry when this happens, it is normal.

Here is the thing: you don’t need to worry about missing a word or two. Instead, do your best to not get distracted or stressed when these words slip up. When you realize you didn’t fully hear the sentences, your brain will be distracted, which leads to more missing words.

Teach yourself to be confident enough not to get distracted by a few words, calm down, and focus on whatever is said next.

Take Notes, but not too many!

Of course, it is important to take notes, but it is a specially important skill for the TOEFL Listening test. But, taking notes can be a little tricky because it may end up taking too much of your time for useless information. So, here is what to do:

  • Avoid writing complete sentences.
  • Reduce direct quotes of what was said.
  • Don’t try to write everything you hear because you will fail. Also, you will be distracted trying to hear everything which will not help you fully understand.

In a nutshell, try to take only the notes you need, keep them short, and listen carefully.

Identify The Most Important Information That You Hear

During the Listening test, not everything you hear will be important, and you need to learn the difference! It is not that difficult when you can tell the essential contributions of each speaker in the audio clips. By then, we recommend you write down the keywords or any phrase that is defined. Also, focus on the main ideas provided during the audio clip.

How To Improve Your Listening Skills

Whether you already master the English language or you are still learning from the very beginning, improving your listening skills is essential, not only for your TOEFL test but for your everyday life, especially with your goal to immigrate.

We have gathered for you the most efficient ways to help improve your listening skills, and they are:

  • Practice listening to different types of materials in English every day, like podcasts, music, radio, movies, and TV shows.
  • Gradually, increase the amount of time you use to listen to English.
  • During the listening process, try to answer questions of what, who, where, when, why, and how.
  • Write down a one-sentence summary to help you remember the main idea.
  • Always write down new words to boost your vocabulary,
  • Instead of reading books, listen to audiobooks.
  • Listen to English recordings that come with a transcript.
  • Whenever you hear a word you don’t understand, look it up and write it down.
  • Have conversations with an English speaker and try to exchange language lessons.

woman with white headphones on

Top 5 Best Preparation Resources for the Listening Section

To ensure you are training the right way for your TOEFL test, it is crucial to use one or multiple online sources that provide similar exercises to the TOEFL test. We have collected for you a list of our top recommendations:

#1 GlobalExam

Once you join GlobalExam, you will be in good hands. This platform was specially designed to help test-takers study and train for their language proficiency tests. It is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and highly motivational to keep you learning with a smile on your face. You can get access to various TOEFL listening practice tests as well. It is hands down the best way to achieve your target TOEFL score.

#2 ETS

ETS is administrating the TOEFL, which means the practice options mirror the real TOEFL test. The ETS offers a few selections of free TOEFL iBT practice sets as well as online courses to help test-takers study better for the test.


This one is also by ETS, and it is a perfect option for anyone who doesn’t want to sit for hours in front of a laptop. TOEFL GO! is the official online TOEFL practice app that will allow you to study and practice for your test whenever you want.

#4 TestDEN

Before you begin with TestDEN, make sure you have a minimum of 30 days to spare because that’s how long it takes to complete. However, it provides a structured course and many practice tests that will help you work on your weaknesses when it comes to the English language. This is one you will start by taking four TOEFL practice tests to have an accurate idea about your current level.

#5 Magoosh

Another great way to practice for your TOEFL online is Magoosh. The latter will teach you the exact format of the test while helping you prepare for it in a smart way. Magoosh is the best tool for anyone who is not yet understanding the TOEFL structure.

Prepare to Perfection for the TOEFL With GlobalExam

Now that you know all the necessary details for your TOEFL Listening test, it is time to study and prepare every single day to get the results you are aiming for. And as we mentioned before, once you join GlobalExam, you are in good hands!

GlobalExam is an e-learning platform that is designed to help test takers prepare for language proficiency tests, such as the TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC. On GlobalExam, you can evaluate, track and improve your level seamlessly with instant corrections. Plus, you can study at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want!

What can GlobalExam offer you?

Our user-friendly platform’s main goal is to help learners prepare for every aspect of the TOEFL, which is why it offers:

  • Study sheets: consult 390 grammar and vocabulary revision sheets with questions;
  • Exercises: complete 14 training sessions focused on different parts of the TOEFL;
  • Mock exams: test yourself with nine full TOEFL mock tests under timed conditions.

Whatever you are looking for can be found on GlobalExam. It is the best, most efficient resource with materials that are specially tailored to meet the needs of different proficiency levels. It is the best way to help you progress from one level to another.

Don’t wait too long! GlobalExam is the solution for better English, successful tests, and a guaranteed future.

Join us today!