Maximize Your Score in Listening (IETLS, TOEFL, PTE)


Preparing a language test or to maintain and enhance your solid Listening skills, here are some points to keep in mind for the future.

A – Use the Resources in Your Community:

  • Visit places in your community where you can hear English spoken.
    • Go to a museum and take an audio tour in English.
    • Call or visit a hotel where tourists stay and get information in English about room rates, hotel availability or hotel facilities.
    • Call and listen to information recorded in English, such as a movie schedule, a weather report or information about an airplane flight.
  • Watch or listen to programs recorded in English.
    • Watch CNN, the Discovery Channel or National Geographic, movies, soap operas or situation comedies
    • Listen to a book on tape in English.
    • Listen to music in English and then check your accuracy by finding the lyrics on the Internet (e.g.,
  • Practice speaking English with others.
    • Look for a conversation partner and exchange language lessons with an English speaker who wants to learn your language.

B – Begin to Prepare for Academic Situations:

  • Visit academic classes, cultural centers, or museums where people are invited to talk in English about their work.
    • Before you listen to a lecture in English, read assigned chapters or background information on academic topics.
    • Visit lectures on a wide variety of topics.
  • Record lectures or presentations and replay them several times.
    • Listen to different types of talks on various topics, including subjects in which you have limited or little background.
    • Listen to short sections several times until you understand the main points and the flow of ideas.
    • Stop the recording in the middle and predict what will come next.
    • Practice listening to longer lectures.
  • Become familiar with the organization or structure of lectures.
    • Pay attention to the structure.
      • lecture or presentation — introduction, body, and conclusion
      • narrative story — beginning, middle, and end
    • Learn to recognize different styles of organization.
      • theory and evidence
      • cause and effect
      • steps of a process
      • comparison of two things
  • Think carefully about the purpose of a lecture.
    • Try to answer the question, “What is the professor trying to accomplish in this lecture?”
    • Write down only the information that you hear. Be careful not to interpret information based on your personal understanding or knowledge of the topic.
      • Answer questions based on what was actually discussed in the talk
  • Develop a note-taking strategy to help you organize information into a hierarchy of main points and supporting details.
    • Make sure your notes follow the organization of the lecture.
    • Listen for related ideas and relationships within a lecture and make sure you summarize similar information together.
    • Use your notes to write a summary.

C – Listen for signals that will help you understand the organization of a talk, connections between ideas, and the importance of ideas.

  • Listen for expressions and vocabulary that tell you the type of information being given.
    • Think carefully about the type of information that these phrases show.
      • opinion (I think, It appears that, It is thought that)
      • theory (In theory)
      • inference (therefore, then)
      • negatives (not, words that begin with “un,” “non,” “dis,” “a”)
      • fillers (non-essential information) (uh, er, um)
    • Identify digressions (discussion of a different topic from the main topic) or jokes that are not important to the main lecture [It’s okay not to understand these!]
  • Listen for signal words and phrases that connect ideas in order to recognize the relationship between ideas.
    • Think carefully about the connection between ideas that these words show.
      • reasons (because, since)
      • results (as a result, so, therefore, thus, consequently)
      • examples (for example, such as)
      • comparisons (in contrast, than)
      • an opposing idea (on the other hand, however)
      • another idea (furthermore, moreover, besides)
      • a similar idea (similarly, likewise)
      • restatements of information (in other words, that is)
      • conclusions (in conclusion, in summary)
  • Pay attention to intonation and other ways that speakers indicate that information is important.
    • Listen for emotions expressed through changes in intonation or stress.
      • Facial expressions or word choices can indicate excitement, anger, happiness, frustration, etc.
    • Listen how native speakers divide long sentences into “thought groups” to make them easier to understand. (A thought group is a spoken phrase or short sentence. Thought groups are separated by short pauses.)
      • Listen to sets of thought groups to make sure you get the whole idea of the talk
    • Listen for important key words and phrases which are often …
      • repeated
      • paraphrased (repeated information but using different words)
      • said louder and clearer
      • stressed
    • Listen for pauses between important points.
      • In a lecture, pay attention to words that are written on the board.


Good Luck!




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