The way that many people approach some of the questions on the TOEIC seems to be preventing them from acquiring proper English skills. For example, in Parts 3 and 4, 70 to 80 percent of the examinees solve questions in the wrong way, IMHO (in my humble opinion). They look at the answer choices and try to select their answers while listening to dialogues or talks, which means they are more or less distracted and not really listening. All they do is try to match the words or phrases in the answer choices with those that they catch in the dialogues and talks. Since their attention is divided between the two tasks, they often fail to understand the general meaning of what is being said. As a result, the test cannot properly measure these examinees’ listening comprehension. If you get a good score on the listening section this way, it may not prove that you are really capable of understanding spoken English.

There are basically three ways of doing these Part 3 and 4 questions, including the one I just mentioned, which is the least recommended, though most widely used. Another way is not to look at anything while listening to what’s being said. Some may close their eyes while others may stare into space. I advise against this way of solving the questions, too, because you cannot be aware of what to listen for and might miss some key information in the speech that you need to catch to choose the right answers.

There was one student I taught last year who approached these questions in a very unique manner. She leaned over the desk with her head placed on her arms so that she could concentrate 100 percent on listening. Every time she finished listening, she would sort of wake up and start selecting her answers. Then she went back to that leaning posture. It looked kind of funny how she kept moving up and down. By the way, she got 460 points (out of 495) this way. But such an approach is only good for those with an excellent listening ability.

Actually, the third way that I’m about to explain is what I always encourage my students to practice and master. (To be continued)
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