Listening - Student Conversations
TOEFL iBT Test
In the TOEFL exam you will often hear conversations between two students about something related to campus life. In the iBT version of TOEFL, these conversations not only appear in the listening section but also as a part of the integrated questions of the Speaking Section.
Since these conversations are in a more informal style (compared to the more correct style in academic lectures), you need to know a lot of vocabulary that is more relaxed and natural, as would appear in real life. Notice how some of the expressions are idiomatic.
Here are some of the most common words and phrases that may appear in the conversations:
Ace (verb): to receive the top grade of an A on a test or course
- I totally aced the test.
All-nighter (noun): a study session that lasts all night (or most of it)
- I think we’ll have to do an all-nighter if we want to be ready for the exam on Thursday
Assignment (noun): work or task that a professor gives that has to be done as a requirement for the class. They normally have to be completed outside of the class.
- Have you done the assignment yet? I haven’t even started it.
Attendance (noun): the students (or people) present
- It doesn’t matter if you miss class tomorrow since the professor doesn’t take attendance.
Be behind (verb): to be late or behind schedule and with a lot of work you still have to do
- I can’t go to the party because I’m behind in my chemistry class and need to study.
Be kidding (verb): To not be serious; to be joking
- You must be kidding! How am I supposed to get those three assignments finished by tomorrow? I thought they weren’t due until next week.
Borrow (verb): to ask for something temporarily and which you will return
- Can I borrow your notes from the class today?
Bring up (verb): to improve your grades.
- If you want to bring up your grades, you will have to study a lot more.
Catch up (verb): to bring up to date when you were behind
- Finally, after a weekend of non-stop study, I have caught up with all of my assignments.
Cheat (verb): to act dishonestly, especially in a test or exam.
- He was caught cheating in the exam so got a zero for his score
Check out (verb): to borrow books from the library
- I can’t check out the books because I forgot my library card.
Come top of your class (verb): to be the best student in your class.
- I was the top of my class in history last semester though not this one.
Cram (verb): to study a lot at the last minute, especially for an exam
- I have to cram for tomorrow’s test. I had completely forgotten about it.
Cut class (verb): to intentionally be absent from class, usually without an excuse
- It was such a nice day that we cut class and went to the beach instead.
Dorm (noun): an abbreviation for dormitory. The place where you live on campus, often in a shared room and living area.
- I was too tired to go to football practice and went straight to my dorm to rest.
Draft (noun): a preliminary (or rough) copy of a written document.
- My draft took me a long time to complete but now it will be easy to make a good copy of it.
Drop (verb): to withdraw from a course or class
- My workload was too much so I had to drop a course early in the term.
Drop out (verb): to withdraw from a college or university
- He didn’t have enough money to pay tuition so he had to drop out of the university.
Due (adjective): expected on a certain date
- The assignment is due next Friday.
Enroll (verb): to register for a course or a university program
- I have decided to enroll in a photography course.
Essay (noun): a short written composition that contains a personal opinion about a subject
- I handed in my essay to the professor but I think I have forgotten to put my name on it.
Exam (noun): abbreviation for examination, an evaluation to test the knowledge of a student
- We have an exam tomorrow though I don’t have any time to study for it.
Expel (verb): to dismiss from school, usually after having done something very wrong or illegal.
- He was expelled from the university for having stolen some of the laboratory equipment.
Extension (noun): additional time giving to complete and activity
- I’m glad the professor gave us an extension to complete the group project. We were nowhere near finished.
Fail (verb): to not pass or not achieve an acceptable grade or mark
- It is your own fault that you failed. You should have studied more.
Fee (noun): a charge for services
- I see they have increased the fees for using the gym this semester.
Field trip (noun): a trip for observation and education outside of the campus
- We went on a field trip yesterday to see the effects of deforestation and erosion near a local park.
Figure out (verb): to try and understand something by thinking about it
- I can’t figure out why I got such a low grade in the exam.
Fill-in-the-blank (adjective): a style of question in a test where part of a sentence has a part missing which a student must fill with the correct word(s).
- I usually find fill-the-blank questions hard because if I don’t know an answer, it is difficult to guess it.
Fill out (verb): to complete a form or application
- You’ll need to fill out this form before we can give you the library card.
Final (exam) (noun): the last examination of a course.
- Everyone is nervous because the final exam is next week.
Get behind (verb): to be late or off schedule
- I’ve been getting behind in my classes because instead of studying, I have been playing video games.
G.P.A (noun): abbreviation for Grade Point Average, a scale of (usually) 0-4 on which grades are calculated
- If a student’s G.PA falls below 2.0, then they will be put on probation.
Grades (noun): a number or letter indicating a student’s level or performance
- This year I have been getting good grades.
Group Project (noun): an assignment to be completed by three or more students
- The professor gave a group project to be done by next Friday.
Hand back (verb): to return an assignment, essay or other piece of work.
- The professor handed back out essays and only a few were happy with the grade they got.
Handout (noun): sheets of paper provided by a teacher containing notes, activities or exercises for the class
- The professor gave us a handout containing a list of the most common spelling mistakes in English.
Hit the books (verb): to study very hard
- We had better hit the books tonight to get ready for the exam tomorrow.
Homework (noun): schoolwork done at home or outside of class
- I have so much homework to do tonight that I don’t know where to start.
Keep grades up (verb): to maintain a good grade point average
- My parents said that if I kept my grades up, they would reward me with a new bike.
Lab (noun): abbreviation for laboratory, a classroom equipped for experiments or research
- I need to find a partner for my biology lab.
Learn by heart (verb): to memorize something so that you don’t have to read it
- We had to learn a poem by heart and recite it in front of the class.
Lecture (noun): a presentation for a class, delivered by a professor
- The professor gave such a boring lecture that half the class fell asleep during it.
Midterm (noun): an exam that is given in the middle of the term
- I only got a B on my midterm in physics
Miss class (verb): to be absent from class
- I missed class yesterday because I had a dentist appointment.
Mock exam (noun): a practice exam usually taken before a real one.
- I passed the mock exam so I think I’ll do well in the real thing.
Multiple-choice test (noun): a test with questions that provide (often 4) different possible answers to choose from
- I always find multiple-choice tests easy to do. If I don’t know an answer, I just guess.
Notes (noun): a brief written record of a lecture to help students remember the important points of it.
- I couldn’t go to the class so I borrowed my classmate’s notes.
On probation (prep. phrase): experiencing a trial period to try and improve grades before disciplinary action happens
- I told you that if you didn’t stop skipping classes that you’d get put on probation.
On reserve (prep. phrase): kept in a special place at the library and usually only for use there.
- Dr. Woodward always puts the books on reserve for his students.
Open-book test (noun): a test during in which students may consult their books or notes
- I’m glad it’s an open-book test since I can’t remember much of what has been taught this term.
Paper (noun): a research report
- I’m having difficulty writing this paper about the love life of the Siberian Hedgehog.
Pass (an exam) with flying colors (verb): to do well in an exam with a very good grade
- I passed the test with flying colors.
Pop quiz (noun): a quiz that is given without notice
- Okay students, clear your desks. Yes, we’re going to have a pop quiz.
Presentation (noun): a lecture, speech or demonstration in front of a class
- I had to give a presentation in my sociology class on the effects of giving alcohol to sophomore students in the morning instead of coffee.
Project (noun): an assignment that often involves the application of knowledge obtained from
- The project the professor gave us was to create an application that would translate spoken English into another language.
Quiz (noun): a short evaluation
- I finished the quiz in less than 20 minutes and still good a good grade.
Report (noun): a written or oral presentation of the results or research or an experiment
- We each had to write a report on the experiment we had been working on the last two weeks.
Research (noun): investigation or study
- Dr. Forgotit gave a lecture on his research about the decline of memory due to technology.
Review session (noun): a study meeting to review material before a test
- I’m glad we have a review session tomorrow with the professor. I really think I need it.
Roommate (noun): the person who you share a room with it
- I wish my roommate would stop snoring. I’m not getting much sleep.
Schedule (noun): a list of courses with days, times and locations
- According to my schedule, it looks I’ll have Friday afternoons free this term.
Sign up (verb): to enroll (in a class)
- Not many students signed up for the seminar so it was cancelled.
Skip class (verb): to purposely be absent from a class
- I don’t think you should skip any more classes. You’re getting behind in your work.
Spring break (noun): a short vacation, normally for one week, in the middle of the spring semester
- I can’t wait for spring break. We’re going to spend it in Mexico.
Student loan (noun): money borrowed to pay for tuition
- I’m finding it difficult to pay back my student loan.
Studies (noun): research investigations
- Recent studies have shown that it is best to rest the night before an exam than spend it trying to do a last minute cramming session.
Term (noun): a period of time when the school is in session, usually a quarter or semester
- This term looks to be an good one for me. I have all of my favorite professors in the classes.
Test (noun): an evaluation that is worth more points than a quiz and less points than an exam.
- Don’t worry, I know you will do well in the test tomorrow.
Turn in (verb): to submit an assignment
- I turned in my assignment a day before it was due.
Tutor (noun): a private instructor, often another higher level student
- I have a tutor helping me improve my essay writing skills.
If you are preparing for the TOEFL exam then you should review the following page too:
Coming soon - University campus vocabulary
Check out the The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT
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