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How Do I Score Well on TOEIC® Listening?

By Gabriele Sturmer
Updated: May 16, 2024

The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC®) tests your English speaking, writing, listening and reading skills at intermediate and advanced levels. Employers use the exam to gauge your English abilities, and universities use the exam to ensure your English is sufficient for studying. The TOEIC® listening exam tests your ability to understand English conversations in various accents and focuses on conversations you would hear in the workplace and in daily life. Scoring well on the listening exam involves being able to explain what is happening in provided images, being able to pick the correct answers for questions being asked, and using proper grammar in the process.

The TOEIC® listening exam begins by showing you various images but includes no written text. You'll be asked to listen to four audio clips that explain what is happening in a particular image, and your task is to pick the one that best describes the scene. To prepare for these questions, you'll need to practice explaining various images, and there are several practice tests available online to help with this. This will increase your vocabulary and help you decide the best answer when you hear the audio clips. The audio clips will be concise, so you'll want to be able to properly summarize an image in just a few words.

The second type of question you'll see on the TOEIC® listening exam tests your ability to listen to basic questions and pick a correct response from choices you hear. You'll hear questions asking why, how or what someone is doing and will need to pick the sentence that is grammatically correct and makes sense in the context. Online audio sample tests also are available for this portion of the test, as are practice tests on CDs, and both provide a wide range of questions. Practicing with a friend also can help, simply because one of the fastest ways to improve your language skills is to use them.

The last two parts of the TOEIC® listening exam provide recordings of short conversations among multiple speakers and monologues by a single speaker. For questions that include a conversation between two or more people, you'll be asked about the content of the conversation, including the topics discussed, the setting and the speakers' motivations. The questions from a monologue are more detailed and deal with the purposes of the speech and the situation in which the speech was heard. Test guides with included CDs are a good way to practice for this section of the TOEIC® listening exam.

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