The Listening section of the TOEIC test, consists of 4 sections. Each section has different stimulus material. For each question, you will only hear the material once. You'll have a total time of 45 minutes to complete all 100 questions.
Your ability to understand what you hear and then choosing the correct answer is being evaluated. It might be a detail to remember, an inference to make, or a main idea that you need to comprehend. With the 2018 revised version, there will be questions asking you to make the connection between a graphic (table, graph, chart) and what you hear in the related talk or conversation. Another new question in a talk or conversation will test your ability to understand the implied meaning of something said. Be aware that some answer choices will try to mislead you. Your vocabulary and grammar skills will be challenged as well.
All the questions will have topics or situations that you would likely encounter on a regular basis in a business environment. The audio passages will include English as it is spoken in various countries. With the 2018 revised version, some of the conversations will have more than 2 speakers. You will also hear instances of elisions (I dunno instead of I don't know for example), and incomplete sentences or fragments (Got that?). As well, in the conversations there are a greater number of exchanges, and less time between lines spoken by each speaker.
Each of the 4 sections in Listening have different types of questions. All the questions are multiple choice with only one correct answer to choose. Each question is worth one point, but the scaled score range is 5 (means you got 0/100) to 495. No, we're not sure how ETS calculates this score based from the initial 0-100 points.
There are no breaks at all in the TOEIC test and once you start a section, there's no stopping it. You must answer each question one after another. If you don't know or are unsure about the answer, try to eliminate options that are clearly wrong and then pick one from the ones that remain. You don't want to run out time!
These are the 4 TOEIC Listening Sections in the order in which you will do them in the test:
For each question, you will see a picture in your exam booklet and you will listen to four answer options. The answer options will be spoken only one time. They will not be seen in your exam booklet, so you must listen carefully to understand what the speaker says. You choose the answer option that best describes what you see in the picture.
There are always 4 answer options and only one correct answer (worth one point). Incorrect answer options might have similar sounding words to something in the picture, or confuse the meaning of what's happening in the picture, or include information that cannot be determined from what is in the picture.
Transcript of answer options you would HEAR:
A. The meeting is taking place in the boardroom.
B. The audience is enjoying the movie.
C. A projector is being used for the presentation.
D. There are loudspeakers on each side of the stage.
Exaplantion: (C) is the correct answer. In the picture you see a man giving a presentation and a projected image appears on the screen behind him. Option (A) is incorrect. The presentation is in a lecture hall, not a boardroom. (B) correctly identifies the audience. However, the people are attending a presentation, not a movie. Option (D) uses the word speakers to mean an electronic device, instead of a person speaking.
Back to top
During this part of the Listening section, you will hear a question, followed by three possible responses. You will only hear each question and answer options once. The question and answer options will not be written in your exam booklet, so you must listen carefully. You choose the answer option that best answers the question.
There are always 3 answer options and only one correct answer (worth one point). Incorrect answer options might have similar sounding words, or use a different meaning of a word than is being used in the question, or refer to a different person (incorrect pronoun used), or use the wrong verb tense.
Example: Transcript of question and answer options you would HEAR:
Question: The work site is close to downtown, right?
A. My sight is getting worse.
B. Take the next left.
C. It's right off Main Street.
Exaplantion: The correct answer is (C). (C) confirms that the work site is close to downtown by stating it's located "right off Main Street". Option (A) uses the homonym "sight" for "site" and is not related to the question being asked at all. Option (B) plays with your understanding of the word "right". It's the answer to a question asking which way to go to reach the work site.
Back to top
There are a total of 39 questions in this Listening section. You will hear a total of 13 short conversations between two or more people. There are 3 questions per conversation. You will only hear each conversation one time, so you must listen carefully to understand what is being spoken. It will not be written on your exam booklet, but the question and 4 answer options will be. There are always 4 answer options and only one correct answer (worth one point).
You need to select the best answer to each question. There are at least 8 types of questions you may be asked. You might be asked to identify who one or both of the speakers are. You might be asked how or what one of the speakers will do if some action does or doesn't occur. Another type will ask you where the speaker(s) are. Identifying the topic – place, person, or thing – is also a question type. You could also be asked about a specific detail mentioned in the conversation. You might have to infer what will/won't likely happen next, or why a speaker said a particular line, or why a speaker will/won't do or did/didn't something. With the 2018 revised version, there are some conversations with a graphic. You need to use the information in the graphic and connect it correctly with what you heard in order to answer the related question. Another new question type will test your ability to understand the implied meaning of something said in the conversation.
Although some of these types sound very simple to do, you are most likely not directly told where or who the speakers are, and can only logically guess from the conversation what or why a speaker might do next. You need to figure out the correct answer from listening to what they say, or from the tone of voice used.
Example: Transcript of the short conversation you would HEAR:
Man: These customer surveys should really help us out when it comes to restructuring our floor plan. Over 200 people wrote about the changes they'd like to see in the store.
Woman: I've only read over a few, but I've already noticed one complaint that a lot of the customers had in common: the location of the milk and dairy products.
Man: Yes, everyone said those coolers should be closer to the checkout line. I guess a lot of people just run in to get a jug of milk and it would be more convenient at the front of the store.
Woman: True, but from a marketing perspective, we're better to leave it how it is. Customers are more likely to find something else they want to buy, like cereal or chicken as they make their journey to the back of the store.
One of the 3 questions asked: Which is true about the speakers?
A. They are shopping.
B. They plan to renovate.
C. They have begun construction.
D. They filled out a survey.
Exaplantion: (B) is the correct answer. The survey will be helpful when they restructure the floor plan. Option (A) is incorrect, because they work in the store. Option (C) is related to restructuring, but they haven't begun yet. Option (D) is incorrect because it is their customers who filled out the survey.
Back to top
There are a total of 30 questions in this Listening section. You will hear a total of 10 short talks spoken by a single person. There are 3 questions per talk. You will only hear each talk one time, so you must listen carefully to understand what is being spoken. It will not be written on your exam booklet, but the question and 4 answer options will be. There are always 4 answer options and only one correct answer (worth one point).
You need to select the best answer to each question. There are at least 8 types of questions you may be asked. You might be asked to identify who the speaker is, or what their occupation is. Another type will ask you where the talk is taking place. Identifying the topic – place, person, or thing – is also a question type. The other identifying type question requires you to determine who the audience, who would most likely be listening to this talk, is. You could also be asked about a specific detail mentioned in the talk. You might have to infer what will/won't likely happen next, or what the purpose of the talk is. With the 2018 revised version, there are some talks with a graphic. You need to use the information in the graphic and connect it correctly with what you heard in order to answer the related question. Another new question type will test your ability to understand the implied meaning of something said in the talk.
Although some of these types sound very simple to do, you are most likely not directly told where or who the speaker is, and can only logically guess from the talk what or why might occur next. You need to figure out the correct answer from listening to what the speaker says, or from the tone of voice used.
Example: Transcript of the short talk you would HEAR:
Woman: Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Athens. My name is Demetra. We will begin today's journey with a visit to Panathinaiko Stadium, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. There, we will have a half-hour to walk around. Our next stop will be the Byzantine Museum, followed by numerous ancient temples. Between each visit, I will be giving you a brief history on each of these historical sites. I will ask that you wait with any questions until we reach our next destination, at which point, I look forward to answering any queries you may have. Before making our way to the Acropolis, we will be stopping at an open air market for a one-hour lunch break. There, you'll be able to choose from a wonderful assortment of local traditional delicacies as well as international cuisine. At the end of the day, you will be delivered directly in front of the hotel.
One of the 3 questions asked: What will the passengers do next?
A. Go for a walk
B. Stop for lunch
C. Visit a stadium
D. Go to the hotel
Exaplantion: Option (C) is correct. The tour is about to begin. The first thing the visitors will see is the Panathinaiko Stadium. All other answer options are events in the tour schedule, but none of them is what the passengers will do next.
Back to top
You can get a good feel for what many of the different listening types are like if you do all of our free mini-TOEIC tests. So be sure to check them out.