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Last Updated: September 23, 2023

TOEFL Listening Section

TOEFL is one of the premier English proficiency tests that is taken both by international students and national students when they aim for work in English-speaking countries or higher studies. The exam measures your skills in speaking, writing, reading, and listening to the language according to the level at which you can comprehend information and communicate it both academically and informally.

The test has been accepted in around 150 countries by over 11,000 universities. Taking the test also indicates your readiness and dedication in acquiring admission through all means possible since the test isn’t mandatory in a lot of colleges if you are not moving countries and acts as a bonus. TOEFL score, though expires in 2 years, can still be used as a marker for your job application and the like to prove your worth.

Objective of the Listening Section

The Listening section of TOEFL mainly focuses on analyzing your ability to comprehend academic discourses and also to follow daily conversations. Though both of these discourses differ in nature, the common factor in both of them is the language. A better understanding of the language, its grammar, and articulation along with the intonations used in different accents can help you figure out what you require for the test.

ETS looks for your understanding of basic grammar which will generally aid you in conversing to the locals and people in your institution. They also look for skills relating to a pragmatic understanding of what is being said by listening to it just once and your ability to connect content and synthesize it.

Test Structure

The Listening section of TOEFL is divided into 2 types- Lectures and Conversations. You are allowed to take notes while you listen so that answering the questions will not solely be based on your retaining skills. You will be given 36 minutes in total to complete the section.

Different accents will be used in the test in order to test the overall proficiency in listening and understanding what is being said without sticking to one specific kind of English. The accents mainly used are North American, British, Australian and New Zealand English.


TOEFL score reports contain the section scores and a total score separately. The section scores are scaled within a range of 0-30 with varying proficiency levels for each section. The total score is the sum of all the section scores and ranges within 0-120.
Proficiency LevelScoreGeneral Description
Advanced Level22-30can understand low-frequency vocabulary; comprehend inter-related information and synthesize information in passage.
High-Intermediate Level17-21can understand common academic terms; can distinguish ideas based on intonation; can synthesize information with difficulty.
Low-Intermediate Level9-16can understand basic grammar and high-frequency words; can identify the purpose of the text but difficulty synthesizing information if not repeated.
Below Low-Intermediate Level0-8shows very low proficiency in understanding the language.

Listening Tips

Preparing for the TOEFL can seem to be a task especially when you focus on the listening section despite being relatively fluent in the language. This is due to the fact that while reading, speaking, and writing the language you are not keen on considering all the accents that are popular in the world when it comes to English. Since these accents are all universally recognized it is imperative that you understand and take the effort to learn these accents though you can stick to any of them in your speech.

All the best!

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