TOEFL listening

The TOEFL listening section is the second part of the TOEFL iBT test and the first part of the TOEFL Essentials test. It is approximately the same length as the TOEFL reading section.

Test structure

The TOEFL iBT listening test is composed of six recordings with questions about each one. The recordings are 3 to 4 academic lectures ranging from 3 to 5 minutes in length with 6 questions about each lecture, and 2 to 3 recorded student or teacher conversations ranging from 2 to 3 minutes in length with 5 questions about each conversation. The TOEFL listening test lasts 41 to 57 minutes.

The TOEFL Essentials listening test is composed of 30 to 45 questions about recordings of four different types. Two types of recordings are conversations between English speakers (general English) and two types of recordings are academic in focus. The listening section of TOEFL Essentials lasts 21 to 34 minutes.

Students can only listen to each recording once and cannot move forward or backward during the listening test. During the TOEFL listening section, you are allowed to take notes, and you can refer to your notes as you answer the questions. Your notes are collected at the end of the TOEFL listening section to prevent cheating.

Question types

The questions on the TOEFL listening test evaluate comprehension, but also information synthesis and the ability to draw conclusions from what you have heard. Is it common for questions to address the speaker’s attitude, beliefs, or motivation in speaking.

The recordings used during the TOEFL listening section are primarily academic content in which speakers have an American accent. However, there is always at least one recording with another accent, either British, Australian, or New Zealander. TOEFL Essentials also includes general English conversations.

Additional questions may be included in the TOEFL listening section of your test that will not be counted towards your TOEFL score. These questions are used by the makers of the test to calibrate the TOEFL. If you find that your TOEFL listening section is longer than expected, this is why. However, you cannot know which of the questions will not be counted, so it’s important to do your best on all of the listening section questions.


The TOEFL listening section is scored from 0 to 30. A good score on the TOEFL listening section is anything 22 and above, and a good score on the Essentials listening section is anything 9 and above.

When you have completed the TOEFL iBT listening section, you will have a 10 minute break. Congratulations, your TOEFL is now half way finished! The next part of the TOEFL iBT is the speaking section.