In order to prepare the best for the Listening section of your TOEFL exam, it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the format of the section itself, the style of the recordings, and the type of questions you will get on the test. There is no better way to do this than by using practice tests and questions, especially if you can get access to as many as possible of past TOEFL exam questions. The latter are available on the TOEFL ETS website, some free of charge, which is useful for positioning yourself before you even begin to prepare for the test, and then during your preparation all the way up to your test day. In this article, we will be looking at the TOEFL Listening Practice Exams.
Here are the resources available on the ETS website, free as well as paid:
TOEFL Listening Practice Materials
1. TOEFL iBT interactive sampler (https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/toefl_interactive_sampler)
This is a set of past questions from all TOEFL sections from real exams, and you can download this and practice with it as many times as you would like. The Reading and Listening sections are interactive. This only works on a Microsoft Windows-compatible computer so be aware you will need one to get access to the practice questions.
2. Free Set of Questions from Previous Tests (https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/test_questions)
This is a downloadable PDF document with answer keys after each section (but no full explanation of the answers). This is less useful for the Listening section as you cannot hear the recordings, instead you get the transcripts. However, they are past exam questions and are good to show you the style of the test itself.
3. TOEFL iBT Quick Prep (https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/quick_prep/)
This is another downloadable tool without actual audio files, so you only have the transcripts. It is good for seeing actual past questions from TOEFL Listening exams and familiarising yourself with the format of the test overall.
4. TOEFL Practice Online: Paid ETS Resources (https://v2.ereg.ets.org/ereg/public/testPrep/viewtestPreparation?_p=TEL)
Here, you can purchase complete practice tests which include the audio files. These practice tests also provide scores and performance feedback within 24 hours for all sections. The important aspect of these tests is that ETS will provide you a detailed explanation of the correct answers and this will help with your preparation in general. There are a number of full tests available to purchase, as well as a Reading and Listening Practice Test only. You can also purchase some other resources on this website, like e-books, which can be useful for general vocabulary building beyond just focusing on the Listening section.
Moreover, you can find a wealth of other TOEFL Listening practice tests online, which are also extremely useful for additional practice. Here are some of the best ones available:
5. TST Prep – 100 Free Listening Questions and TOEFL Listening Practice Test
The material on this site focuses on academic lectures only, as they suggest that these are more challenging than the casual campus conversations type of questions you also get on the test. They have 100 free questions but based on just small passages and there are 2 questions per recording. The website claims that practicing small snippets like this will improve your listening skills, which of course does help as any practice is good practice! However, remember you are not practicing the actual style of TOEFL questions here. You can also take a free complete TOEFL Listening Practice test here and read useful study tips too, on the Listening section as well as on the TOEFL in general. The section on the exam structure is particularly useful. Finally, you can also buy a 500-question pack to continue practicing with more recordings (but in the same shortened style, i.e. 2 questions per recording).
6. Examenglish.com: 5 free practice lectures and 6 conversations
On this website, you can practice with 5 lectures and 6 conversations, scored instantly online for TOEFL Listening.
Be careful and reflect on your answer before you select it, as the correct answer then appears immediately on screen!
This website also has a useful section about the structure of the Listening exam, before you dive into the practice material. While they do not explain why an answer is right or wrong, it is useful to practice these questions as they are the same format as you will get on the test. Moreover, at the bottom of each set of questions, you can click to show the transcript if you want to review the text more and potentially understand your answers better.
7. Youtube – a wealth of resources (www.youtube.com)
By searching for TOEFL Listening on Youtube, you can find quite a lot of full-length listening tests with questions and download PDFs with the correct answers (or sometimes the correct answers will be in the video description, so you need to be honest with yourself and ignore those until you take the test under normal conditions). This format is good because it is timed, and therefore replicates the real feel of the test itself. All you have to do is play the video and take notes during the recordings, then write down your answers when the questions come up.
8. Englishclub.com Practice
Here you can find some more example questions and tips on the type of questions you will get on the TOEFL Listening exam. You cannot take these questions as an actual test, as there is a detailed explanation under each of them (unless you ignore this in the first instance). However, this website does give you very useful detailed information on why answers are correct and you get to practice with real recordings, as well as see the transcript below.
There is no better way to prepare for the Listening test than by using actual recordings, so try to refer to as many resources with audio files as possible. The practice material with transcripts only is good for understanding the style of the questions, but when it comes to it, on the actual test you will need to be able to hear and interpret information quickly so it is essential that you are familiar with the style and speed of the recordings.
I hope that this article on TOEFL Listening Practice Exams was helpful. If you are interested, visit the TOEFL Category!