Detail questions are roughly equivalent to the factual questions from the reading section. They deal with specific facts from the listening, but they are not usually as specific as detail questions in the reading section. Because you don’t have the option of listening to the recording a second time, you will depend on the information that you wrote in your notes. For this reason, detail questions in the listening section rarely deal with very specific information like numbers or name. Instead, they focus on those facts that you would recognize as important as you listened to the recording.
Detail questions are usually in harmony with the main idea of the recording. Before you mark a final answer, revisit the main idea of the recording and make sure that your answer choice makes sense considering the main idea.
As you choose your answer choice, be careful not to fall into the trap that false friends may set for you. False friends are answer choices that use key words from the passage in a way that appears to be correct, but isn’t. They may directly contradict the information in the passage, or they may simply not make sense.
Let’s check out an example of a false friend using this excerpt from a listening practice set in the Official Guide (page 162). For the sake of simplicity, I’ve transcribed the relevant part of the recording below rather than attaching a sound file.
“Now, as fibers go, Manila hemp fibers are very long. They can easily be several feet in length, and they’re also very strong, very flexible. They have one more characteristic that’s very important, and that is that they are exceptionally resistant to salt water. And this combination of characteristics—long, strong, flexible, resistant to salt water—makes Manila hemp a great material for ropes, especially for ropes that are gonna be used on oceangoing ships. In fact, by the early 1940s, even though steel cables were available, most ships in the United States Navy were not moored with steel cables; they were moored with Manila hemp ropes.”
According to the lecture, why was Manila hemp rope historically more useful to the US Navy than steel cables?
A. Manila hemp fibers are stronger than steel.
B. Steel cables are flexible and resistant to salt water.
C. Manila hemp was easier to produce.
D. Steel is too heavy to use on ships.
The false friend in this case is B, which uses key expressions like “flexible” and “resistant to salt water”, but applies them incorrectly by using them to describe steel cables rather than Manila hemp.
In general, to answer detail questions correctly, you have to listen very closely. Many students make the mistake of trying to include everything in their notes—they try to write every detail they hear. That is very time-consuming, and so it becomes difficult to pay attention to what is being said. Do not try to write every single detail. Write the main ideas, the general topics, and listen carefully. Your memory will be enough if you’re paying close attention and understand what the recording said.