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TOEFL iBT Section Number of Items Number of Questions Timing


4 to 6 Lectures

2 to 3 Conversations

6 Questions
per lecture

5 Questions per conversations

60 to 90
Minutes to answer

TOEFL iBT Listening Materials

There are two types of Listening materials on the TOEFL iBT, conversations and lectures. Both are based on the actual speech that is used in North American colleges and universities.

Each lecture or conversation is three to six minutes long and, as far as possible, represents authentic academic language. The speakers who record the texts are encouraged to use their own speech patterns (e.g., pauses, hesitations), as long as they preserve the content of the text. You should take notes during the lectures and conversations. This material is not meant to test your memory.


  • Conversations

There are two types of conversations in TOEFL test: Office hours and Service encounters

These conversations are typical of those that occur on North American university campuses. Office hours are interactions that take place in a professor’s office. The content may be academic or related to course requirements. Service encounters are interactions that take place on a university campus and have non-academic content. 

  • Lectures

Lectures in TOEFL iBT represent the kind of language used when professors teach in a classroom. The lecture excerpt may be just a professor speaking, a student asking the professor a question, or the professor asking the students a question and calling on one student for a response. Each lecture is approximately 5 minutes in length and is followed by six questions.

The content of the lectures reflects the content that is presented in introductory- level academic settings. Lecture topics cover a broad range of subjects. You will not be expected to have any prior knowledge of the subject matter. All the information you need to answer the questions will be contained in the Listening passage. The lists below are provided to give you an idea of the topics that typically appear in the Listening section. In general these topics are divided into four major categories:

- Arts         - Life Science        - Physical Science        - Social Science

  TOEFL Listening Topics    For more detailed list of TOEFL listening topics visit  the related page by clicking  here.


 TOEFL iBT Listening Questions

Most of the TOEFL iBT Listening questions that follow the lectures and conversations are traditional multiple-choice questions with four answer choices and a single correct answer. There are, however, some other types of questions:

- Multiple-choice questions with more than one answer (for example, two answers out of four or more choices)

- Questions that require you to put in order events or steps in a process

- Questions that require you to match objects or text to categories in a table questions, you will hear a part of the lecture or conversation again. You will then be asked a multiple-choice question about what you have just heard.

There are eight types of questions in the Listening section. These types are divided into three categories as follows:


  • TOEFL Listening Question Types

Basic Comprehension Questions

1. Gist-Content

2. Gist-Purpose

3. Detail


Pragmatic Understanding Questions

4. Understanding the Function of What Is Said

5. Understanding the Speaker’s Attitude


Connecting Information Questions

6. Understanding Organization

7. Connecting Content

8. Making Inferences


The following sections will explain each of these question types. You’ll find out how to recognize each type, and you’ll see examples of each type with explanations. You’ll also find tips that can help you answer each TOEFL Listening question type.