Listen to the recording and choose the best answer to each question. To make this practice more like the real test, cover the questions and answers during each conversation.

Question 1. Listen to a conversation between two students.

M: Hi, Kelsey! How’s it going?

W: Well, I don’t know. I just got my history paper back, and my professor didn’t grade it. He just wrote on it, “Come and talk to me about this.”

M: Really? Is that all he said? Didn’t he make any other comments?

W: No. So I’m really confused. This is the first time I ever got a paper back with no grade on it.

M: That is strange, isn’t it?

W: Sure is. I did everything I was supposed to. I mean, I followed the instructions of the assignment.

M: You’d better go talk to him. You need to find out what he’s thinking.

W: Yeah, I will. I hope he doesn’t ask me to rewrite the paper.

  1. What is the woman’s problem?

Question 2. Listen to a conversation between two students.

W: I don’t know about you, but I sure am ready for spring break!

M: Are you doing anything special?

W: I’m going to Mexico to hang out on the beach! Four of us will be staying at a resort owned by Maria’s family. How about you?

M: I wish I could do the same. Unfortunately, I told my brother I would help him move. But, I don’t mind. It’s my turn. He’s done so much for me in the past.

W: Well, I’ll be thinking of you as I bask in the sun.

M: Gee, thanks. I’ll repay the favor some day!

  1. What is the conversation mainly about?

Question 3. Listen to a conversation between two students.

M: What courses will you be taking next semester?

W: I won’t be taking any courses. I’ll be doing an internship instead.

M: Oh, really? Where?

W: At the Children’s Union. It’s a nonprofit agency that works on children’s issues, like education, nutrition, crime, family issues—even music and the arts.

M: That sounds like a great experience because you want to work in that area.

W: Yes, I do, and I’m really excited. The position is actually very political. I’ll be traveling all over the state, helping to organize events in a lot of different places. I may even get to spend some time in the state capital.

M: Excellent! I’m sure you’ll learn a lot. Good luck!

W: Thanks. I hope this will lead to a job after graduation.

  1. What is the woman mainly discussing?

Questions 4 through 5. Listen to part of a discussion between two students.

W: Are you ready for our first quiz in botany?

M: I guess so, if only I could remember the difference between xylem and phloem. I can’t seem to get it straight on which one goes up and which one goes down.

W: I always think of a tree and imagine a “P” at the top, up in the branches, and an “X” at the bottom, down in the roots. “P” is above “X” in the tree, just as “P” comes before “X” in alphabetical order.

M: Okay. Now what?

W: Well, if “P” is up in the branches, it has to go down.

M: Okay. Then it’s phloem that goes down.

W: Right. And “X” is down in the roots, so it has to go up.

M: Xylem is down, so it must go up. Xylem up, phloem down.

W: Right! Now just imagine your tree tomorrow during the quiz!

  1. What problem does the man have?
  2. How does the woman help the man?

Question 1. Listen to part of a talk given to first–year university students.

The place to go for parking permits is the Safety and Security Office on the first floor of the University Services Building. Parking permits are required for all on–campus parking. Special permits are available for students who carpool. You can also get passes for the Fourth Avenue Garage, bus passes, and maps there. The hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 8:00 to 4:00 on Fridays.

Safety and Security also provides special services 24 hours a day. These include escort service to and from your car, criminal incident reporting and investigation, lost and found, and battery jumper service.

What is the talk mainly about?

Question 2. Listen to part of a talk in a history class.

In the Nile Valley ten thousand years ago, the people used stones to crush grain into coarse flour. Then they turned the flour into primitive forms of bread. Primitive bread wasn’t like the bread we know today; it was simply flour dough dried on heated stones. The invention of ovens came later. Leavened breads and cakes, which are made to rise by the action of yeast, were also a discovery of the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians were the first people to master the art of baking. News of this new wonder food spread to other places in the Middle East. Soon other people were collecting seed, cultivating land, and inventing ways to turn grain into flour.

What does the professor mainly discuss?

Question 3. Listen to part of a lecture in an agriculture class.

One thing that really concerns water resource analysts is how much water agriculture uses—much more than all other water–using sectors of society. One of our greatest concerns is the very high use of water by irrigation. Of course, some forms of irrigation use water more efficiently than others do. The efficiency of water use varies by region, crop, agricultural practice, and irrigation technology. The least efficient types of irrigation are the traditional surface methods, such as field flooding. It takes a lot of water to flood a field. The water collects into ponds or basins, but then most of it either evaporates into the air or passes down through the soil into groundwater. This means that less than half of all the water applied to the field is actually used by the crop. The rest is lost to evaporation or to groundwater.

What is the lecture mainly about?

Question 4. Listen to part of a lecture in a geography class.
The dunes called Spirit Sands make up the Manitoba Desert—Canada’s only desert. These five kilometers of dunes were formed 10,000 years ago, when an ancient river dumped billions of tons of sand and gravel at the edge of a glacial lake. The dunes of Spirit Sands are constantly changing … they are truly “rolling” dunes. Here’s how it works. The sand in each dune becomes progressively finer toward the top. The heavier particles tend to settle at the base on the windward side. The wind blows the finer particles up the slope, and eventually they kind of trickle down the other side. Thus, the dune sort of walks downwind. It will reverse direction when the wind changes. Each dune is covered with tiny, rolling waves, and each wave itself is a tiny dune.

What is the lecture mainly about?

Question 5. Listen to part of a lecture in a biochemistry class.

There’ve been several influential studies in pain management. Some of the most interesting of these study endorphins, the body’s own natural painkillers. For example, we now know that exercise stimulates the production of endorphins. Lack of exercise, on the other hand, not only shuts down endorphin production, but can also lead to muscle deterioration. This is why you see a lot of pain specialists
prescribing exercise for patients with chronic pain.

Another interesting area involves the power of the placebo effect. We’ve known for some time that a sugar pill or other inactive placebo can sometimes make a sick person feel better. Somehow, the power of suggestion … or faith in the doctor, or the drug … will start a process of healing. We now think a neurochemical component—what may actually happen is the placebo effect allows some people to sort of tap into the supply of endorphins in their own brains.

What is the lecture mainly about?

Question 1. Listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class.

One study on aging suggests that the key to a longer life might be the way you think about yourself as you get older, that is, how you see your own aging. The researchers found that people who view aging positively live longer than people who view it negatively.

This study began 26 years ago and took place in a small town in the Midwest. The participants were 640 men and women who were 50 to 90 years old at the time. The subjects were asked to agree or disagree with statements about aging … for example, statements like “As you get older, you become less useful” and “Older people can’t learn new skills.” The data showed that respondents with the most positive attitudes survived a median of 22 years after their initial interview, while those with negative views lived just 15 years—a difference of
seven years.

  1. What is the speaker’s main point?

Questions 2 through 3. Listen to part of a talk in a business management class.

An increasing number of newcomers to the American workforce come from populations that have been underserved in the past because of racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural differences. The increase in minority populations brings about “market place” demands. There is a growing economic need to respond to diversity, as organizations must manage and train this increasingly diverse workforce.

The primary goal of all training and development programs is to provide workers at all levels of an organization with the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs and help the organization meet its business goals. For most organizations, the decision to provide diversity training is a business rather than a moral decision. Good management depends on working effectively with other people by understanding and appreciating differences in perspective. Organizations that do not respond to diversity experience lawsuits, high turnover, low morale and productivity, loss of talent to competitors, additional recruitment and training costs, and negative publicity.

  1. What is the topic of the talk?
  2. What is the speaker’s main point?

Questions 4 through 5. Listen to part of a lecture in a biology class.

A marsh is a wetland where the soil is regularly or permanently saturated with water. Because of the water, marsh vegetation is usually soft–stemmed or herbaceous—grasses, sedges, and mosses. Marshes are among the richest of all biomes. Animal life is highly diverse and includes an array of insects, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Because marshes are so biologically productive, an abundance of energy–rich organic matter enters the food web each year. Much of this energy–rich biomass comes from dead plant and animal material that is
broken down by bacteria and water fungi. The water in marshes may become tea–colored or dark brown because of the organic acids from the decaying vegetation. In the past, people viewed marshes—and most wetlands—as the source of mosquitoes, bad odors, and disease. As a result, many wetlands were destroyed to make way for agricultural development. Now, however, we recognize the ecological importance of marshes and we’re putting a lot of research into figuring out how they can be restored.

  1. What is the lecture mainly about?
  2. What is the professor’s main point?

Questions 6 through 8. Listen to part of a discussion in a food science class.

W: The primary ingredient of chocolate is cocoa, which comes from the beans of the cacao, or cocoa tree, which is native to the tropical forests of the Americas and now grown on plantations in Asia and Africa. The tree’s fruit is a pod, about 10 to 30 centimeters long, with several beans inside each pod. Certain key factors govern the production of high quality cocoa. For example, the pods ripen continually throughout the year, but only about half of them are mature at any given time, and only the mature pods can be harvested because only they will produce top quality ingredients.

M: Could you say more about how the beans are processed?

W: Sure. Workers cut the pods from the tree with machetes or knives mounted on poles. They cut open the mature pods and remove the seeds by hand. At first, the seeds—the beans—are still covered with pulp from the pods. They are are piled on the ground and allowed to dry in the sun for several days.

M: And this is all done right there on the plantation?

W: Yes, and this air–drying is another important step in the process. This is when enzymes from the pulp combine with natural, airborne yeasts to cause a small amount of fermentation, and this fermentation is what makes the final product even more delicious. During fermentation, the beans reach a temperature of about 51 degrees Celsius, which kills the seed embryos and prevents the beans from sprouting while in transit. After the beans have fermented enough, they’re stripped of the remaining pulp. At this point, the beans are sent to the processing plant to be roasted—first on screens and then in revolving cylinders with heated air blowing through. The roasting process causes a browning reaction, when more than 300 different chemicals in the beans interact. And this is the magic moment. This is when the beans start to acquire the rich flavor we associate with chocolate.

  1. What is the main topic of the discussion?
  2. What aspect of the cocoa tree does the professor mainly discuss?
  3. What main point does the professor make?


1 Listen again to the conversations and lectures in Exercises 2.1.A through 2.1.C. While you are listening, write down key content words: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Don’t try to write down everything. Write down only the words and phrases that are keys to understanding the overall message. Compare the words that you wrote down with those that your classmates wrote down. Which words and phrases are the most important for understanding the message? 2 With a classmate, discuss why the incorrect answer choices in Exercises 2.1.A through 2.1.C are incorrect. Are the answers wrong because they are:
  • too general: beyond the focus of the conversation or lecture?
  • too specific: supporting detail instead of main idea?
  • inaccurate: not true, or only partly true, according to the speakers?
  • irrelevant: about something that the speakers do not mention?