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How to Predict Your TOEFL Score: Listening

Announcement! As of August 1, 2019, the TOEFL Reading, Listening and Speaking sections will be shortened. The TOEFL will also make changes to its prep materials and scoring system. Because of this, some of the info in our blog posts may not yet reflect the new exam format. We cover all the changes here.

predict toefl listening score

This is my second post on the math behind how to predict your TOEFL score. Today, we’ll look at how to calculate your TOEFL Listening score. (Last time, we looked at how to predict your TOEFL Reading score.)

By carefully measuring your TOEFL Listening performance on practice questions, you can predict the score you might get in Listening on test day. Here is a step-by-step guide to the math of TOEFL Listening score prediction.

How to Predict your TOEFL score in Listening: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Count the total number of points in your practice section.

A full TOEFL Listening section has two conversations about school life, two class lectures, and two class discussions where the professor and the students talk. All of the questions that follow a TOEFL Listening track are multiple choice. The majority of these multiple choice questions have just one correct answer and are worth just 1 point.

However, TOEFL Listening always have a few questions where you choose more than one answer. If a question has just two correct answers, it will still be worth one point. If a question has  more than two correct answers, it’s worth two points. To get full points on these questions, you’ll need to select all of the correct answers. If you miss one of the answers, you’ll earn just 1 point. If you miss 2 or more answers, you’ll get 0 points for the whole question.

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So to calculate the total points in a practice section of TOEFL Listening, you need to look at both the number of questions and the type of questions. Let’s do a point count for a complete TOEFL Listening section found in TOEFL Quick Prep. You can find the first half of this Listening Section on pages 9-20 of the Quick Prep Volume 1 PDF. The second half of the section appears on pages 15-26 of the PDF for Volume 2. There are 45 questions total.

All of the TOEFL Listening questions in the first PDF are worth just 1 point. In the second PDF, we some less common TOEFL Listening question types. Specifically, we see two fill-in-the table questions: question number 31 and question number 35. These questions are worth two points each.

So questions 31 and 35 are worth a combined four points. The remaining 43 questions are worth a combined 43 points. This means the section has 47 possible points.

Step 2: Count the number of points you earned.

For the sake of this exercise, you don’t need to actually complete this Quick Prep TOEFL Listening Section. Instead, we’ll just imagine you completed the section. And we’ll imagine that you missed five questions in Quick Prep Volume 1. This would be a total of 5 lost points — one for each question.

In Quick Prep Volume 2, we’ll imagine you only had trouble with questions 31 and 35 — the two point questions. We’ll say that you missed two of the four answers on 31. And we’ll say that you got just one of the four answers wrong on question 35. This means you lost 3 points in total. You lost the full two points on 32, and you lost 1 point on 35.

In this scenario, you’ve lost a total of 8 points on your TOEFL Quick Prep Listening section. Or to put it a different way, you’ve earned 39 out of 47 points.

Step 3: Divide points earned by total possible points, get a percentage.

So your score is 39/47. This ratio can be turned into a fraction. Rounded to the nearest hundredth, 39/47 = 0.83. This converts to a score of 89% for the section.

Step 4: Convert your percentage to the 0-30 score range for TOEFL Listening.

The score range for TOEFL Listening is 0-30. You can estimate your scaled TOEFL score by converting your percentage score to the 30 point scale. In this case, we calculate 83% of 30. You can do this by multiplying 30 by 0.83. 0.83*30 = 24.9. This rounds up to a TOEFL Listening score of 25. Based on this performance in a TOEFL Listening practice section, you could predict that if you took the test tomorrow, you’d get a score of 25 in Listening.

Other factors to consider

Remember that you’ll need to go through several practice TOEFL Listening sections to get an accurate prediction of your TOEFL score (as Kate mentions in her earlier post on predicting your TOEFL score). Also bear in mind that ETS adjusts scores slightly on Writing Tasks that are harder-than-average. So there’s a chance your score could be a few points different than your calculated prediction.

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