David Recine

Using TOEFL Lectures and Real Lectures for TOEFL Prep

In my last post, we looked at differences between TOEFL lectures and real ones. Knowing these differences can help you improve TOEFL Listening skills…. And prepare for your future studies.

To review, in TOEFL lectures, professors speak at a slightly slower pace, compared to completely natural “professor talk.” And TOEFL lecturers are more skilled than the average professor. Their talks don’t have the speaking mistakes and occasional lack of clarity that real teachers have. And finally, the majority of TOEFL professors speak standard North American English, while real professors speak in a very wide variety of foreign accents.

So how can you use your knowledge of the differences to your advantage? Glad you asked.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

Use real lectures to “overshoot” for TOEFL lectures

Real lectures are harder on average than TOEFL lectures. So building your skills with real lectures is a good way to develop even better listening skills than you need for your actual TOEFL target score. By overshooting in this way, you are aiming for an even better score than you need.

The advantages of using real lectures to overshoot is obvious.  Aside from the fact that it’s great to have the highest Listening score possible, this kind of overshooting also helps you if something goes wrong on test day. If you aren’t feeling well, almost run out of time, or get some questions you simply don’t know the answer to, it’s good to be better at listening than you would normally need to be. The stronger a listener you are, the more likely you are to get your target score, even if things don’t go as well as well as you’d hoped on test day.

Use TOEFL lectures for college readiness

I’ve mentioned that TOEFL lectures are a little more slow-paced than the real lectures you’ll hear in your future studies. But it’s important to remember that TOEFL lectures are not completely unrealistic. They are simply more slow-paced than the average lecture in higher education.

You’ll still hear some lectures in real universities that sound TOEFL-like. That type of slow, clear speaking is as easy as real college listening gets. So if you can do well on TOEFL lectures, you’ll have the minimum, basic listening skill you need to start your college career. Mastering the TOEFL lecture style will give you the tools you need to keep building your English listening skills as needed during your future studies.

The takaway

TOEFL lectures are different from lectures in actual college classrooms, but not so different that the TOEFL is inaccurate to real college study. And most real-life talks from professors are just a little bit harder than the TOEFL. So real lectures are great practice material for high-level TOEFL listening skills. Ultimately, as Lucas mentions, a combination of TOEFL audio and authentic academic talks makes for the best TOEFL Listening practice.


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

More from Magoosh