TOEIC Listening and Reading

The new TOEIC listening and reading exam consists of seven parts:

Listening component: 4 parts (100 questions)

Part 1: Photographs –> 10 questions

In this part, you will be given ten pictures with their corresponding questions. Each question will be a multiple choice question. You will hear four statements about the picture and you must mark the answer that corresponds best to the statement heard.

Part 2: Question-Response  –> 30 questions

In this part, you will hear a question and a statement and three responses spoken in English. You must select the correct response.

For ex, you will hear the following question and the three responses as follows:

Do you have the time?

a. I’m sorry, I forgot to wear my watch this morning

b. It is at home

c. No, I left it in my office

The correct answer is ‘a’, I’m sorry, I forgot to wear my watch this morning

Part 3: Short conversations  –> 30 questions

In this part, you will hear some conversations between people. You will be asked to answer three questions pertaining to the conversation. Each question will be a multiple-choice question.

Part 4: Short talks  –> 30 questions

In this part, you will hear a short talk given a single speaker. You will be asked to answer three questions pertaining to the talk. Each question will be a multiple-choice question.

Reading component: 3 parts

Part 5: Incomplete sentences  –> 40 questions

A word or phrase will be missing from the sentences given. You have to identify the correct word or phrase from the options provided.

Part 6: Text completion  –> 12 questions

A text will be provided (an email, a letter, etc) with word(s) or phrase(s) missing from the text. You will have to identify the correct word or phrase from the options provided.

Part 7: Reading comprehension (single and double passages)  –> 38 questions 

This part is a traditional reading comprehension test where you have to read one passage and choose the correct answer from the options. A double passage comprehension means that you will either have a passage within a passage (for ex, a table and an explanatory note) or two passages (for ex, a letter and a response to the letter).

While the listening component will really test your listening skills, the reading component will test your grammar and vocabulary in parts 5 and 6, concentrating fully on your reading skills in part 7.



Here are six things to keep in mind if you’re contemplating taking the test:

1. Not just language skills…

TOEIC doesn’t just evaluate your language skills, but also tests your levels of concentration and endurance! Yes, it may be a trifle simpler than the TOEFL, but demands a very high level of engagement with the exam. The two hours you spend in your exam hall (three, including the administrative work!) will easily be the most tiring hours of your day. So be prepared!

2. Practise

Whether you think you’re ‘poor’ or ‘great’ in English, it won’t matter! You will need to practise and very hard! Use the free online resources at your disposal (list here) and you may consider buying a book (list here)

3. Time yourself

… and especially for the reading component. Yes, you may be quick and you may be good, but if you don’t time yourself, you may get lost in the myriad of text passages you have to read and before you know it… poof! Time’s up!

4. Answer every question 

I just fail to understand candidates who are obstinate enough to ‘leave’ questions unanswered. You won’t get a reward for claiming your ignorance, but you just might get a correct answer if you’ve guessed right! There is no negative marking, so you can guess the answer if you aren’t sure. Who knows, right!

5. Two year validity

For the time being (2015), the test is valid for a period of two years. So think carefully before you decide to take it. Don’t just take it for the heck of it and definitely don’t if you aren’t ready for it!

6. Read up on the test requirements before you enter the hall

Please, please, please read up on what you need to carry with you on the day of your exam.

NO, you can’t use a pen, you will need a pencil!

NO, you can’t carry rough paper in with you!

NO, you can’t enter unless you have proper identification proof, and no, your international student ID doesn’t count for one!

Good luck! 

Book resources for practice

There are tons and tons of books that prepare you for the TOEIC. Here are a few I’ve taken a look at. They have been numbered in no particular order:

1. Barron’s TOEIC

Barron’s TOEIC is considered to be “the leader in test preparation”!

Whaaaa, really?!

Well yes, it is THE textbook that an English language library ought to have. The updated edition of this preparation manual includes an MP3 CD. The book itself contains four practice tests, a variety of topics and vocabulary, test questions answered and explained and tons of listening and reading practice.

2. Nouveau TOEIC, La Méthode Réussite, Nathan

This is the one I’m currently using and I must say, from a teachers’ point of view, it is very, very good indeed, and no, I’m not paid to say it!

It’s got 4 audio CDs  of voices that take into account the variety of accents heard at the exam. It’s got three full-fledged practice tests and loads of exercises that take you through the various parts of the listening and reading components. It got the scripts and the corrections at the end of the book like any good test preparation manual should but what I like the most about it is the “tips” it offers before each section of the test. It suggests an efficient working method which is more or less compatible with what students should do to prepare themselves.

3. Pass the TOEIC test, Harrap’s

This one, like the others, gives you loads of grammar and vocabulary practice to give you enough confidence in yourself. It’s got two full tests and a number of tips throughout the book that should help you improve your performance.

4. Vocabulaire et grammaire pour le TOEIC, by Lin Lougheed and Sylvie Hadman

As the name suggests, if you need help improving your vocabulary and grammar, this is the book to get. Lin Lougheed is also the official author of Barron’s TOEIC, so that is useful to know

There are of course tons of other books to choose from. If you know of any one of particular interest, do leave a comment below.

Practice for exams [TOEIC/ TOEFL/ IELTS…]

A few useful online sites and resources to practise for exams:

Vocabulary building:

Audio-visual resources:

  • BBC 6 minute English: six-minute long videos
  • Elllo: listening lessons published every week
  • Mediatice:  audio-visual resources for foreign languages
  • TED Talks: easily my most favourite website to work on and with audio and/or visual tasks

A couple of professional and ‘paid’ sites:

What is the TOEIC?

TOEIC stands for Test of English for International Communication. It is a diagnostic test often used to hire, place and promote employees. It was developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and this official organisation administers the test.

The TOEIC doesn’t serve to ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ candidates but confers upon each candidate a score, a score that enables one to evaluate one’s ability to understand, use and communicate in English.

There are three types of TOEIC tests that candidates may choose from:

  • TOEIC Listening and Reading
  • TOEIC Speaking and Writing
  • TOEIC Bridge