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Question Type: Detail
If you’ve already seen the lesson on detail questions for reading passages then the questions on details and the listening session will look pretty familiar. Detail questions ask about once specific part of a conversation or a lecture. That is one fact or idea. Okay. So it’s possible that it asks about two facts or three facts if you have a multiple answer question.
Sometimes the TOEFL asks you for two answers or maybe three correct answers, but they are isolated facts. They are not related to something else in the question. You don’t have to connect ideas. Just think about, what is true or false according to the lecture or conversation. In order to do that, you have to understand the concepts and the meaning.
That is, if a professor defines a new word or topic. That’s an important thing to know. That new word that, that professor defines is a detail. And it might be the fact or idea that a detail question asks about. What you don’t need is the very, very specific numbers or years that are only mentioned one time.
Those might be in a detail question, but it’s not so simple as, for example, in what year was the United States founded? Okay, that might be a good question for a history test, but it’s not a good question for the TOEFL. Instead, you’re going to have, again, the concepts, the meanings, not these very, very concrete, specific, memorization ideas.
In order to answer a question about a number you have to memorize. The TOEFL is not memorizing, it’s understanding. And there are usually two of these types of questions in each recording. There could be one or three or four, but two is very common. Detail questions are a very high frequency type of question. That means they’re very common.
In fact, detailed questions are the most common type. They are more common that main idea questions, definitely. More common than inference questions. More common than any other type. And in order to answer them correctly, remember this is many, many questions, you need to focus.
Okay, that sounds a little simple, but it’s very true. Paying attention is the most important part for answering detailed questions correctly. If you don’t pay attention, if you don’t focus for just one sentence, then you might not hear the fact or idea that is in a detailed question. And then you might answer it incorrectly just because you weren’t listening.
So, what do these questions actually look like? There is a range of many different structures, but here’s one possibility. According to the professor, what is heat lightning? Okay, this part is not important. This is just some x. What is x?
This is a very, very basic type of detail question. Just asking about a definition. This part here, according to the professor, is very common in detail questions. This is the most important part to notice now so you can understand what a detail question is.
Here’s another one. What does the student say about his car? Okay, so there’s no according to the student. There’s not even a very specific definition like here, this is a little bit more difficult to recognize. But the answer will be just some fact.
What does the student say about his car? He says his car is blue. That’s very simple, but the idea is the same as why you would see on the TOEFL, it’s just some specific detail, some fact. What point does the professor make about modern psychology? Okay, again this part here is just some x, we don’t care.
What point does the professor make is very similar to what does the professor say. So, it’s very similar to this, what does the student say? Almost the same. According to the secretary, who should the student contact? We have some different people with a secretary and a student instead of the professor, but we have the same according to, according to, and then a fact question.
Who? The answer will just be a fact. He should contact that man. Doesn’t matter. A person, a specific, specific piece of one sentence or one idea from the listening.
And that is a detail question.
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