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Getting the gist of listening passages is a prerequisite to succeeding on the TOEFL iBT test. TOEFL iBT plays a mix-and-match game with listening comprehension exercises, including a listening section, campus and academic discussions and lectures during the speaking section, and an academic lecture during the integrated writing section. Thus, on the listening, speaking, and writing sections of the TOEFL iBT, you will need to get the gist or understand how the overall ideas of the passage as a whole are related. Gist also refers to your ability to understand the overall purpose the passage serves. Sometimes, the gist of a listening passage is directly stated; other times the gist is not directly stated during which time you will have to connect various parts of the listening passage into a meaningful whole or purpose.
Like other listening skills such as details, inferences, and pragmatic questions, gist questions are integral to helping you getting a high score on TOEFL iBT listening. Additionally, getting the gist of listening passages will help you when answering TOEFL iBT speaking and writing questions. If you can get the gist of a listening passage, you are likely to score well on the TOEFL iBT listening, speaking, and writing sections.
Some students, including those in my Advanced TOEFL Listening class, have difficulty getting the gist of a listening passage, causing their overall listening comprehension skills to plummet. For example, in a listening final exam that I gave today in class, several students managed only a 41%/100 listening proficiency with academic passages, with two students scoring 82%, the highest scores. Like them, you may have difficulty concentrating in English on listening passages. Additionally, you may be better at listening for specific facts and details but unable to connect these facts and details to a greater whole. To sum up, you could be having difficulty seeing the big picture of the listening passages.
To correct this problem, you need to do four things: (1) You need more practice listening to academic discussions and lectures. (2) You need to improve your note-taking skills as you listen to these passages. (3) Do not just focus on the details but understand how those details relate to the main idea of the listening passage.
(4) For more information, go here:
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