One time I took the TOEFL and failed to reach a perfect score.

I earned a 118.

I was disappointed in myself. When I looked at the score breakdown I found that I had been deducted two points on the listening section and I immediately knew why.

During one of the listening passages, another student had a technical problem. He raised his hand and asked the proctor for assistance. Curious, I turned to glimpse the situation. After a minute or so of watching the exchange between the student and proctor, I forgot about the passage. My mind had wandered and I would not be able to go back to listen again. I had missed some crucial details and it cost me a perfect score. That’s mistake number one you need to avoid:

1. Students get distracted

Make your desk your world.

The only thing you should look at during the test is your computer screen and the scrap paper you take notes on and that’s it, that’s all you need to focus on. Everything else in the room will be a distraction.There are four other common mistakes people make during the listening and I will list them in a minute, but I just want to quickly remind you of the listening section structure.

There are two parts and six passages in the listening section. Four passages will be academic lectures and the other two passages will be campus conversations. Generally speaking, the lectures are more difficult than the conversations. Each of the passages is between 3-6 minutes long and you, the TOEFL taker, are expected to sit and patiently listen to people rambling on for a few minutes without taking part in any of the passages… That’s tough.

In this hyper-connected world, it’s hard to maintain focus on anything for more than a minute. If you’re reading this I’m shocked. I can’t believe you’ve read this far when there are so many other TV shows, video games and online resources that are much more entertaining than a blog post on the TOEFL exam, but I’ll try to make it fun by using an exclamation mark! Anyway, common mistake number two”

2. Students don’t take notes

Take notes. When you take notes you have a job to do.Notes force you to concentrate on the listening section. When you have a job to do, in this case, it’s to take notes, you are more likely to pay attention so you can do your job well.  Here’s a link to a useful video about note-taking strategy in the listening section.

One of the most important things you need to listen for during a conversation or an academic lecture is the main idea.

3. Students don’t identify the main idea.

You can expect that the first question of after almost every listening passage is a main idea question. They are very popular and there’s at least one per passage.

After you listen and take notes it’s time to answer the questions.

4. Students skip questions.

Unlike the reading section, the questions in the listening section must be answered in the order they are presented. If you have no idea what the answer is, take a guess. If you leave the answer blank it’s still marked wrong, so taking a guess can’t hurt.

5. Students take too long to answer a question.

Don’t take more than two minutes to answer a question. Read questions carefully and eliminate obvious wrong answers as you take the exam, but don’t take too long to answer each question or you will run out of time at the end. Except for questions that are worth two points or more, you should NOT take more than two minutes to answer any given question

If you want to know some more basics about the listening section I have a video you can watch that explains the entire section in just five minutes.

Do you have any other advice for TOEFL takers who struggle with the listening section? Leave some advice in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading and stay lucky.

-Josh

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One time I took the TOEFL and failed to reach a perfect score.

I earned a 118.

I was disappointed in myself. When I looked at the score breakdown I found that I had been deducted two points on the listening section and I immediately knew why.

During one of the listening passages, another student had a technical problem. He raised his hand and asked the proctor for assistance. Curious, I turned to glimpse the situation. After a minute or so of watching the exchange between the student and proctor, I forgot about the passage. My mind had wandered and I would not be able to go back to listen again. I had missed some crucial details and it cost me a perfect score. That’s mistake number one you need to avoid:

1. Students get distracted

Make your desk your world.

The only thing you should look at during the test is your computer screen and the scrap paper you take notes on and that’s it, that’s all you need to focus on. Everything else in the room will be a distraction.There are four other common mistakes people make during the listening and I will list them in a minute, but I just want to quickly remind you of the listening section structure.

There are two parts and six passages in the listening section. Four passages will be academic lectures and the other two passages will be campus conversations. Generally speaking, the lectures are more difficult than the conversations. Each of the passages is between 3-6 minutes long and you, the TOEFL taker, are expected to sit and patiently listen to people rambling on for a few minutes without taking part in any of the passages… That’s tough.

In this hyper-connected world, it’s hard to maintain focus on anything for more than a minute. If you’re reading this I’m shocked. I can’t believe you’ve read this far when there are so many other TV shows, video games and online resources that are much more entertaining than a blog post on the TOEFL exam, but I’ll try to make it fun by using an exclamation mark! Anyway, common mistake number two”

2. Students don’t take notes

Take notes. When you take notes you have a job to do.Notes force you to concentrate on the listening section. When you have a job to do, in this case, it’s to take notes, you are more likely to pay attention so you can do your job well.  Here’s a link to a useful video about note-taking strategy in the listening section.

One of the most important things you need to listen for during a conversation or an academic lecture is the main idea.

3. Students don’t identify the main idea.

You can expect that the first question of after almost every listening passage is a main idea question. They are very popular and there’s at least one per passage.

After you listen and take notes it’s time to answer the questions.

4. Students skip questions.

Unlike the reading section, the questions in the listening section must be answered in the order they are presented. If you have no idea what the answer is, take a guess. If you leave the answer blank it’s still marked wrong, so taking a guess can’t hurt.

5. Students take too long to answer a question.

Don’t take more than two minutes to answer a question. Read questions carefully and eliminate obvious wrong answers as you take the exam, but don’t take too long to answer each question or you will run out of time at the end. Except for questions that are worth two points or more, you should NOT take more than two minutes to answer any given question

If you want to know some more basics about the listening section I have a video you can watch that explains the entire section in just five minutes.

Do you have any other advice for TOEFL takers who struggle with the listening section? Leave some advice in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading and stay lucky.

-Josh

Complete TOEFL Lesson Package
with Josh MacPherson
you have a test
we have a plan


These complete lesson packages are everything you need to get ready and ace the TOEFL once and for all

GET THIS PLAN NOW
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