TOEFL Listening Practice

It’s tough to practice listening. First of all, it’s the only skill where you can’t take your time or back up and start over if you need to. Second of all, most of the interesting listening practice resources out there are way too fast and complicated for many English learners (pacing is a primary challenge of this section), and most of the resources that are geared at English learners are so boring that you have to fight to stay awake through them. For these reasons, many people find listening much harder than the other skills, and they spend less time working on it. Lucas gave some great pointers for finding TOEFL listening practice over in the GRE blog, but since TED talks may be a little ambitious for our first TOEFL listening practice set, I’m going to use a not-so-dubious recording from Youtube.

For this listening exercise, we’ll be using the beginning of this video through 2:57. You may want to minimize the window so the (unrelated) pictures in the video don’t distract you. (An answer key appears at the end of this post!


Listen to the following excerpt from a lecture about archaeology.

1. What professional position does the speaker hold?

a. Current president of the State Archaeological Society

b. Professional shipwreck scuba diver

c. Former president of the State Archaeological Society

d. Professor of archaeology

2. What is the speaker’s attitude toward treasure-hunters?

a. They help archaeologists find and study important artifacts like gold coins and jewelry.

b. They disrupt the work of archaeologists.

c. Many of them are professional underwater archaeologists and deserve respect.

d. They are selfish.

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3.  Which of the following is NOT a point that the speaker makes in the lecture?

a. Some shipwrecks have been destroyed by people who did not even find what they were looking for.

b. It is difficult to locate a shipwreck precisely.

c. Some shipwrecks have little value to archaeologists.

d. The speaker has never gone diving to find treasure on a shipwreck.

4. What point does the speaker make when talking about the ancient Andrea Doria?

a. Shipwrecks deteriorate over time.

b. Treasure-hunters are especially problematic with ancient shipwrecks.

c. Being underwater helps preserve and protect shipwrecks.

d. New England has many interesting shipwrecks.

5. What will be the main topic of the lecture that is introduced in this excerpt?

a. The work of the State Archaeological Society

b. Ancient shipwrecks

c. The damage that some divers cause to shipwrecks

d. Shipwrecks of New England


TOEFL Listening Practice: Answer Key

1. C

Relevant passage: 00:10 – “I’m Robert Wolf, and I’m President—well, I should say past President of the State Archaeological Society.”

2. B

Relevant passage: 00:41- “And in reality, many divers—the ones we call “treasure-hunters”- do try to find shipwrecks with valuables still aboard them. In fact, that’s one of the problems we face in this field.”

3. B

Relevant passage for A: 00:53- “Some shipwrecks have literally been torn apart by treasure-hunters searching for gold coins or jewelry, even if there wasn’t any there.”

Relevant passage for C: “And underwater archaeologists weren’t able to get much information from these ships.”

D is not stated, but implied by the speaker’s discussion of treasure-hunters.

4. C

Relevant passage: 01:22- “Unlike sites on land, a shipwreck—it’s uncontaminated. It’s not disturbed by the generations of people who live on the site later.”

5. D

Relevant passage: 01:57- “So I’m mostly going to stick to shipwrecks that occurred here, that happened off the coast of New England, and I’m going to talk about what we’ve learned from them—what archaeologists have learned from them.”

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4 Responses to TOEFL Listening Practice

  1. M December 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm #


    Please post the answers to the Listening Practice Questions.

    • Kate Hardin
      Kate Hardin December 30, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Hello there– Here’s the short version of the answers. A more detailed answer key with relevant passages marked will be up in the next few days. 1. c 2. b 3. b. 4. c 5. d. I recently edited the questions a little bit to clear up some unclear areas, so if you were confused, check out the new version and see if it makes more sense. Thanks for the comment!

      • liz December 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

        Did you ever edit more detailed answers to this listening practice video?

        • Lucas Fink
          Lucas December 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

          We haven’t created more detailed explanations for this set, and we probably will not soon, but this better practice set has video explanations. 🙂

          If you have any specific questions on the practice in this blog post, let me know!

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