Whenever talking about an exam, a question always comes up. It's "how difficult is the exam?" It is no difference with the TOEFL. Before taking the test, many test takers wonder about the difficulty level of the TOEFL. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question. TOEFL is a language test and real research has proved that it is very difficult to scientifically determine the difficulty level of a language. However, we will try our best to estimate the difficulty level of the TOEFL with all the information we know.
There are two forms of the TOEFL: the paper-based (PBT) and the internet-based (iBT) tests. Even though the paper-based format is still used in several around the world, it is very rare compared to the places that use the iBT format. So we will look into only the iBT format in this post.
Academic is done typically for one of three purposes i.e. basic comprehension, pragmatic understanding or connecting and synthesizing information. The best way to increase one’s vocabulary and build listening skills is to actually listen to the English language and read a variety of academic material in English. Listening is found to be most engaging when it is entertaining. Movies, live interviews and television shows are therefore perfect opportunities to hone listening skills especially because they also have visual cues and reinforcements. Just as useful are audiotapes and CDs of other material such as lectures and books.
The listening section of the iBT TOEFL® test aims to measure one’s ability to listen to, hear and understand spoken in English. For academic purposes one has to listen to lectures and conversations. The Academic listening will usually be done for either one of the following three purposes:
Listening for basic comprehension: comprehension of the main idea, key points and the most important details related to the main idea.
Listening for pragmatic understanding: here, one listens to be able to recognize a speaker’s attitude and level of certainty as well as appreciating a speaker’s purpose or function.
Connecting and synthesizing information: the test-taker has to recognize the information presented and understand the relationship between ideas such as comparing and contrasting, cause and effect or just the steps in a given process.
Under this category is making inferences and drawing conclusions on the basis of what is implied in the material one is listening to. Making connections among pieces of information presented, noticing changes in topics in a lecture or conversation as well as recognizing introductions and conclusions in a lecture also fall under this bracket.
TOEFL® is an abbreviation for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is a standardized test of proficiency in the English language for non-native speakers with an interest in studying in an English-speaking country. It is developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is one of the only two major English-language tests in the world over. On top of the test, the ETS TOEFL® Program avails tools and guides for preparing for the test and generally improving one’s skills in the English language.
The TOEFL® iBT test is a measure of a candidate’s ability to use and understand the English language at the University level. It evaluates how proficiently one is able to combine their listening, reading, speaking and writing skills for the best performance in academic tasks. Candidates are evaluated on all four levels.
There are 8 types of questions in the Listening section. These types are divided into 3 categories as follows: Basic Comprehension Questions, Pragmatic Understanding Questions, and Connecting Information Questions. We will take a look at each of the three categories and the TOEFL listening question types associated with each.
There are two formats for the Listening section. On the short format, you will listen to two conversations, two lectures, and two discussions. On the long format, you will listen to three conversations, three lectures, and three discussions. After each listening passage, you will answer five or six questions about it. Only two conversations, two lectures, and two discussions will be graded. Because you will not know which conversations, lectures, and discussions will be graded, you must try to do you best on all of them.