During Listening, you will be working with two different types of audio
- Recordings of lectures &
- Recordings of conversations
You should expect to listen to four to six lectures that deal with academic topics. Conversations are more casual, so there are usually only two to three of these. Each bit of audio can be from three to five minutes long, followed by five to six questions. The questions may ask you about the contents of the recording. They may also ask you about what you think happened before or what could happen after. There could also be the “why” and “how” type of questions. You will hear every audio lecture or conversation only once. There is an exception: Some questions will play back a part of the recording for you to listen to again. However, you cannot depend on this. You should expect to only hear the audio once. Hearing something only once is the major difficulty with the Listening section. This is why you will need to take good notes and make educated guesses about what questions you could get.
Understanding conversational English is also one of the hardest tasks for English students, so it is very important to get used to listening to many types of talks and dialogues. The TOEFL has a policy of including different English accents in the Listening section—you could hear American, British, New Zealander and Australian English on the test! Try to listen to all these different types of English before taking the exam.