The Listening Section – Questions Part II- TOEFL-iBT® (4/4)

The Listening Section - Questions Part II- TOEFL-iBT® (4/4)

Estimated reading time: 25 minutes

This passage continues from a short series on the Listening Section of the TOEFL-iBT®, and a larger guide reviewing all the sections of this test.

If you wish to read from the start of the Listening section, click here to go there.

If you wish to start reading from the beginning of the guide, click here to go to the start.

If you already read those posts, then feel free to continue here.

As you may know, in our last post we had an introduction to some of the questions that we will see in the Listening Section of the TOEFL-iBT. Here, we will see the final 3 types of questions that we will encounter.

These are:

  • Listen Again
  • Multiple Selection
  • Complete the Table

Before we continue, here you will find the same Conversation and Lecture we have for this series so that we can have immediate access to it.

Conversation 1 – Class problem


Student: Hi Professor Jenkins, you wanted to see me?

Professor: Hi Gaby, yes, please take a seat. Um, I wanted to talk to you about your grades.

Student: oh, I see.

Professor: I’ve noticed that there has been a significant drop in your last exam`s marks. Taking into account that you are one of my best students, I was a bit concerned. Is everything alright?

Student: yes! Absolutely… well, sort of. You see, it’s a combination of things.

Professor: ok, if there is anything I can do to help, you are free to ask.

Student: Well, a few weeks ago, I was absent for a whole week due to a very important family trip I had to do. You see, my dad`s family had a plan to visit us and we hadn’t seen each other in over 5 years. So, my hands were tied in that situation.

Professor: I see, and I imagine that when you got back to classes you were a bit overwhelmed with tasks, papers, and other chores?

Student: I wouldn’t say a bit overwhelmed. You see this is my last year before graduation, I`ve taken some extra credits in order to graduate faster, but with this surprise trip I had, I`m starting to regret it.

Professor: I can imagine. How many credits are you taking this semester?

Student: I`m taking 21.

Professor: That`s the maximum allowed!

Student: I know, I`ve been doing that since my 4th semester to finish a whole year ahead.

Professor: you may be putting too much pressure on yourself. Though if you`ve taken the maximum credits allowed for some time, you should be adapted to it by now.

Student: yes, indeed. Though I`ve found that as semesters pass by, the classes just keep demanding more of my time. I`m really careful of not getting sick to avoid a situation like the one I`m in now where I am trying to catch up with all my classes.

Professor: Well, that is one of the consequences of taking too much.

Student: I know…

Professor: how`s your schedule like right now? I mean, when do you have fewer classes?

Student: Well, normally I am pretty full from morning till evening… from Tuesday through Friday. I also have a few classes on Monday mornings and evenings, though the better part of the afternoon I just have it as a time to study.

Professor: How about Saturday mornings?

Students: um… I don’t have any classes on Saturday mornings. I usually take the weekend to get up a bit later and recover some energy. I still study in the afternoons most weekends. Why?

Professor: Well, there are classes on campus on Saturday mornings, and as it turns out, I teach 2 classes then and there. One of them is the same class in which you are in.

Student: huh, I didn’t know you taught on Saturdays.

Professor: yes, and just so you know, this is a Saturday only class, and is about 2 weeks behind the content you are receiving at the moment in our class.

Student: You mean I can attend this class on Saturday morning?

Professor: you can, though it will be completely up to you.

Student: wow! Thank you, professor Jenkins!

Professor: now just one thing. I don’t have an issue with my students attending other of my classes to catch up, as long as they don’t participate during the debates or activities that we have. It would be unfair to the students of such class as they are seeing the content for the first time. I wouldn’t want to spoil the answers before I make them think.

Student: Oh sure, no worries, I can sit in the back of the auditorium during the class. I`ll be quiet as a mouse.

Professor: great. It is important that you take advantage of this for your future leaves of absences.

Students: yes, I`ll definitely take notes of it. And see if my other teachers don’t mind me doing a similar thing with their other classes. That way I could catch up.

Professor: Well, you`d have to ask all your teachers to see the schedule with them.

Student: yes, I will. Thanks a lot professor Jenkins.

Class or Lecture 1 -Biology class: Virus Crosspieces.


Professor: Alright everyone, I hope you remember from our last class that it is improbable for a virus to jump from one species to another one. Though there have been precedents of such events happening. I`m sure we all remember the swine virus we spoke about a few classes ago.

Let’s remember that a virus is a type of parasite, infecting nearly all forms of life. They depend on a host to use its body for nutrients and to replicate itself in.

In order to survive and reproduce they need to pass through 3 stages. Contact, replication, and transmission.

All successful viruses follow these stages.

I`m going to put the example of the influenza virus. Keep in mind that this virus has an incredible rapid mutation that has allowed it to outsmart our immune system in many cases.

Now, the virus enters the respiratory tract. Once there, it seeks out the specific cells that it can control. It has evolved proteins in its exterior that allow it to interact with matching receptors on human respiratory cells.

Once found, the virus uses other adaptations to trick the cell in order to get in and take control over it and then begins the replication process.

Now at this stage, it is easier to avoid the immune system disguising itself as a regular human cell. This way it doesn’t sound the alarms.

The spreading continues and the virus successfully replicates itself a few million times, until the infection gets transmitted to others, through sneezing, in this case.

But this virus, when sneezed, goes out in all directions through the air, eventually landing almost everywhere in plants, animals and if lucky, other humans.

If it manages to find its way to the respiratory tract of someone else, then it has a chance of continuing to the stages.

This is in broad terms how most viruses work.

Most of the times the virus is unable to survive as it is not compatible with other species. So, it needs to find an adequate host in order to replicate itself.

But we must keep in mind that there are millions of different viruses in nature, plus, if they manage to reproduce successfully, they do so by the millions, and every reproduction gives chance to a random mutation, that, in most cases is useless, but every once in a while it gives the virus a boost that may allow it to infect a species that is… Uhm…. slightly different from its traditional host.

For example, a chimpanzee, our closest genetical pair.

As a matter of fact, a very debated topic amongst anthropologists who do field research on chimpanzees is whether they should boost their immune system before the trip to avoid getting any virus from the chimpanzees. But that`s something we will discuss in a future class.

ahm…Some viruses can jump to other species, but the challenges they find are astonishing. As the mutations they now have may be worthless in pursuing their path to the next stage. Reproduction.

Though if the virus is lucky enough over many generations, chance can make a new mutation that allows it to enter successfully in a new species.

If they manage to do this, then the next challenge is finding a way to replicate itself in the new host. They could eventually evolve a replication method that is different than with their previous host, which could work better but normally does nothing.

If they manage to do this as well, then the next barrier is the transmission. If they use a different transmission route, for example, instead of being transmitted by air, it is now transmitted by bodily fluids, it may yet face a larger problem of finding a new host.

The challenges a virus finds are endless, and as I said before, it is very improbable for a virus to jump from one species to another one. But every so often, one virus, over millions if not billions of generations, finds a way to pass all of these barriers.

And now we continue to the following type of question.

Listen Again

As the name implies, we are given a small replay of a section of the audio we just heard.

The key thing here is to be able to understand what is inferred by the speaker, with regards to the intonation, content, or specific situation.

Tip: This question is common with both Lectures and Conversations.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that they will be replaying a very small portion of the audio, a sentence or two. We will

Question 6. Listen to part of the lecture and answer the question.

[Audio replays a section]: “Alright everyone, I hope you remember from our last class that it is improbable for a virus to jump from one species to another one.


What does the professor imply when saying this:


[Audio replays a section]: “Alright everyone, I hope you remember from our last class that it is improbable for a virus to jump from one species to another one.


a) The professor wishes to emphasize the dangers of virus transmission.


b) The professor expects the students to recall past content.


c) In their last class, it was improbable for a virus to jump from one specie to another one.


d) The professor trusts that the students remember all their classes.


Now, as it is the norm, all the options may have a ring of truth to them. You may be able to discard one or two, and we may have some difficulties trying to drop down the final one.


If you wish, give it a shot here to drop the three incorrect options. Once you´re done, you can continue here to read the explanation.


Here we go one by one.


Option reads:


a) The professor wishes to emphasize the dangers of virus transmission.


From the start, we can drop this option. It is clear that this is not the intention of the professor. This piece of audio is at the start of the lecture, hence it is difficult to deduce the consequences of the virus transmission at this stage.


Furthermore, this piece of audio makes reference to their previous class. And the professor hopes they remember a specific topic.


We eliminate this option and continue to the next one.


Option reads:


b) The professor expects the students to recall past content.


When the professor says “… I hope you remember from our last class…” it becomes clear that the professor wishes the students to recall some past content. Specifically from their last class.


This is a strong candidate as it seems that all the information in the sentence is true. 


In this scenario, the word “Hope” is very similar to “Expect“, even though out of context they would mean slightly different things.


The part that may be confusing of this option is when this option declares “past content” which makes a not-so-specific reference to their previous class.


Still, this is a strong candidate, and only if we manage to discard the remaining ones, we can choose this as the winner.


Option reads:


c) In their last class, it was improbable for a virus to jump from one specie to another one.


This option starts by making a reference to their last class, which is in perfect correlation to the piece of audio we re-heard.


However, it is incorrect to declare that “it was improbable for a virus to jump from one specie to another one“. 


Common sense will tell us that this is untrue. Yet, we have to also follow the rule that states that “We cannot include outside material or experiences in the TOEFL-iBT”. This, of course, has the exception of the Speaking and Writing sections.


In addition, the piece of audio declares that the topic they reviewed in their last class mentioned the improbability of virus transmission.


It is a topic of their last class, but this does not mean that IN their last class the viruses couldn’t transmit.


This second half has a strong syntactical error.


We must eliminate this option and continue with the final one.


Option reads:


d) The professor trusts that the students remember all their classes.


This one also has a decent probability. But we know we must read well to understand the core message.


In this particular case, the word “trust” will have a similar meaning to “hope“. So, the professor hopes that the students remember the content of their last class, according to the audio.


However, there is a small part that deviates this. This option declares that the professor wants the students to remember ALL THEIR CLASSES.


This contradicts the audio directly as they state that the professor wishes the students to remember specifically their last class.


In consequence, we eliminate the third option are only left with one correct alternative.


This renders the correct option to be Option B.


Now we continue to the next type of question.

Multiple Selection

This type of question can be easy to identify in the test. You will be asked a question and you will be asked to select anywhere from 2 to 3 options.

In this question, you may be given a few more options. Normally, we are given 4 options and we are asked to select 2 of these options.

It is also possible that we are given 5 options and instructed to select 3. However, this is not as normal as the previous case, still, we should be prepared.

Here we have an example to see better.

Question 7. Which of the following are true of a virus transmitting to other species?

[Select 2 choices]


a) It faces many challenges in order to achieve it.


b) It is usually obtained within a few generations.


c) Humans and chimps usually infect other species.


d) Specific mutations give viruses the tools to successfully infect a new species.


And we continue bellow with the explanation one by one.


Option reads:


a) It faces many challenges in order to achieve it.


We know from the lecture that there are several stages that the virus has to complete before being able to reproduce itself. And then go through a hurdle of generations in order to evolve something that can give it an advantage to break into another specie. 


This occurs in a few million or thousands of generations. Which can be interpreted as a great number of challenges to be able to transmit into another species.


This renders Option A as one of the correct choices. But we must discard only two in this case, so we continue.


Option reads:


b) It is usually obtained within a few generations.


In our last option, we spoke about this factor and spoke about the potential millions or even billions of generations it takes a virus to successfully evolve a new tool that helps break into another species system.


When this option mentions “a few generations” it is obviously not correlated with a few billion ones.


So we must discard this one, and continue to the following one.


Option reads:


c) Humans and chimps usually infect other species.


From the lecture, we interpret that a virus can be transmitted to another species, even though they tend to be specialized in a single one. 


This process takes a very long time as the needed evolutionary adaptations need to be available in order to do so.


We understand that this process is not common and that it is unlikely to occur. Viruses spread in many forms where at times many of them go directly into unuseful places and basically die without infecting a new host.


From here we can infer that the transmission between humans and chimpanzees to other species is a highly uncommon event. Even between humans and chimps, this is a very strange event, so there is no reason for us to assume this is true.


We discard this option and are left with only one, which we must read in order to confirm that it is one of the correct ones.


Option reads:


d) Specific mutations give viruses the tools to successfully infect a new species.


This one has a strong stance as the whole lecture indicates that only through these mutations the viruses are able to crack the system of a new species.


This of course after many failed attempts, and random mutations.


So this option is the other correct option.


We conclude with options and as the correct ones here.


This is the final question we must cover in order to complete the general review over all of them.


In this type of question, we will be asked to complete a table marking the correct answers within two columns.


We will normally be asked to either select if the options fit into the characteristics of what was described in the audio, or to which segment it belongs.


This question may be worth more points depending on how many interrogatives you have. For example; 


  • If you get asked 2 items, then this question will be worth 1 point.
  • If you get 3 items, then the total amount of points will be 2 points.
  • If you get 4 questions, then this question may be worth 3 points.


It is unlikely that you´ll get more items to respond here, but if you do, make sure you pay attention to a cue that can inform you of how many points this may be worth.


You will need to have a good sense of comprehension of the audio, and your notes will represent a significant importance in this question as more content will be covered.


Some of the information can be very explicitly expressed in the audio, and some of it may be inferred.


Let´s see this better with an example.

Question 8. Which of the following represent possible deterrents for a virus to infect a new species as mentioned in the lecture.

The natural immune system of the new host

The dangers of UV light

The lack of evolutionary tools

The improbability of infecting a new host 

The effects that other viruses may have on them 











Okay, so in this case, we are presented with five options, which can give us a bit of extra practice.


We will continue going option by option, to consider if they should be marked in the Yes column or the No column.

Tip: This type of question tends to be more common with classes and lectures.

Keep in mind that we have to change our regular strategy here, as we cannot be sure of the correctness of an option by discarding all the rest. In this type of question, there may be a few that are good and a few that are bad.


The only logical reference that we have here, is that there will need to be at least one good option and at least one bad option. In consequence, we need to work more on the options individually than in previous questions.


Here we go to the breakdown of the options.

The first option reads


  • The natural immune system of the new host


Through the lecture, the immune system is mentioned a few times. It represents a challenge for the new virus to fool the immune system. It has to evolve many new features to have access and decode the method.


In consequence, we know that this option is true, as it represents one of the largest barriers that the virus must surpass.


We mark the Yes column for this option and continue to the next one.

The second option reads:


  • The dangers of UV light  


Now, some time ago we spoke about how we should not include external information to persuade us of choosing one option or discarding another. This is exactly one of those cases.


We may know from outside sources that UV light is at times used to disinfect some areas that need a high standard of hygiene.


However, this is not mentioned at any point in the lecture and we MUST pay attention to what the question is asking. There is a part of the question that says “as mentioned in the lecture“.


Since it is clear that this is not mentioned in the lecture, then we must mark this option in the No column and continue with the next option.


The third option reads:


  • The lack of evolutionary tools  


We understand from the lecture that a virus cannot just infect anything that moves. Different hosts have different characteristics and defense mechanisms that not all viruses will be able to access.


They mention a few times, that the virus must evolve after a few million or billion generations to have a small chance of developing a tool that can allow them to infect a new species.


So, we can assume that the lack of these “evolutionary tools” is a barrier that can block them from transmitting themselves.


This option must be marked in the Yes column, and we follow on.


The fourth option reads:


  • The improbability of infecting a new host 


As we have mentioned repeatedly, it is unlikely that the virus can infect a new host.


There are many problems it must overcome, such as the evolutionary tools it must acquire not to mention the improbability of it even getting to the host through the transmission.


This is an easy one to classify, so we can add it to the Yes column and continue.

The fifth and final option reads:


  • The effects that other viruses may have on them


This is a similar case as the second option. It is making reference to information that is not mentioned in the lecture.


It is difficult to highlight how important it is to not include outside information within the test.

We have to add this option to the No column.

And we have finally wrapped up the entirety of the questions.

I hope that this explanation can give you a very good understanding of how the Listening section of the TOEFL-iBT works and how to tackle each question more adequately.

Keep in mind that the best way to understand this better is to read it a few times and have a good understanding of how these will go on test day.

Keep posted for our next articles and be sure to share this info with friends.

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