02 TOEFL Listening Practice: Service Encounter

Listen to a conversation between an advisor and a student. 

Click here to Show / Hide Questions.

1. Why does the advisor want to talk with the student?

  1. To discuss her phone call with the professor and what he said about the student
  2. To help the student avoid failing a class by giving him advice about his studies
  3. To find out more about the history professor's teaching style and exams
  4. To explain what professors at the university require from their students


2. What problems does the student have?

            Choose 2 answers

  1. He is not doing well in several of his classes.
  2. He is not studying the textbook material carefully enough.
  3. He is not in class all the time.
  4. He is not sure about what is being tested.


3. What does the advisor imply about the history professor’s exams?

  1. They have a style that is familiar to most students. 
  2. They primarily test a specific approach discussed during lectures.
  3. The teaching assistants can tell him which questions will be on the exams.
  4. Many of the concepts they test cannot be found in the textbook.


4. Which of the following does the advisor recommend that the student do?

                   This question is worth 2 points

                   2 points for 3 correct answers,

                     1 point for 2 correct answers, 

                 0 points for 1 or 0 correct answers.

                             Choose 3 answers


  1. Ask to meet regularly with his history professor

  2. Find out what each professor expects of his or her students in every course

  3. Get up and go to his history class all the time

  4. Ask for help and clarification from teaching assistants in larger classes

  5. Take more careful notes on lectures and on textbook material


5. Listen again to part of the passage. Then answer the question.

What does the advisor mean when she says this: 


  1. She wants to meet the student next week to see how he is doing.
  2. If the student goes to at least 50 per cent of the lectures, he should do well.
  3. The student must take responsibility for attending lecture sessions.
  4. She is willing to show the student how to study for and pass his mid-semester exams.

Click here to Show / Hide Answers.

1- b

2- c and d

3- d

4- b,c and d

5- c

Click here to Show / Hide Audio Script

Advisor: Hi, Brad. Thanks for coming in.
Student: No problem. What did you want to see me about?
Advisor: Um, well, I saw your mid-semester grade report, and there was something of a problem with it.
Student: You mean my history class?
Advisor: Yes, exactly … Look, we usually don’t call students in for mid-semester grades, but I’ve been trying to check up on the freshmen who are having … problems, to help them … um, be more successful during their time here at the university.
Student: Uh, OK, but it’s only that class.
Advisor: Oh, I know. Don’t get me wrong, Brad, I didn’t ask you to see me today to scold you. I did see that you’re doing fairly well in your other classes … uh, your grades in them show you’re perfectly capable of good work. But, well, to be frank, I worry about you not passing history, and I guess I just want to find out why you’re not doing so well in the class.
Student: Well, this is going to sound like a really bad excuse, but history’s so early in the morning.
Advisor: It’s at nine o’clock; that’s not really that early.
Student: Yeah, but there are a lot of things going on in the dorms until really late, so it’s pretty much impossible to go to bed early.
Advisor: Uh, Brad, you do get up and go to history class, don’t you?
Student: Usually.
Advisor: Ah, I’m beginning to see the problem. Since it’s a class you’re not doing well in, you should be there all the time.
Student: I’ll try.

Advisor: Now, is that your only problem in the class, that you miss class sometimes?
Student: No, not exactly.
Advisor: What else is an issue?
Student: Well, I didn’t, uh, I … I didn’t do too well on the exam.
Advisor: And what was the problem, do you think?
Student: I studied for the exam, I really did…. But there were a lot of questions on the exam that weren’t in the class textbook, in the chapters that were covered on the exam. At least half the questions on the exam weren’t from the book.
Advisor: Do you understand why?
Student: I think there were a lot of questions from the lectures, stuff that wasn’t covered in the text.
Advisor: OK, here’s where I think I can help you, and this…
Student: (interrupting, slightly excited) Really? How?
Advisor: OK, if it’ll make you feel any better, Brad, you’re not the first student to have issues with Professor Branson’s history class. His exams seem to be a far cry from what many students are used to.
Student: I’ll say.
Advisor: Look, after a few students came to me with the same problem last year, I got in touch with Dr. Branson. He told me that during his lectures he puts a lot of emphasis on looking at the past through different viewpoints. He wants his students to examine events in light of … um, various possible approaches to explain what happened in the past. That’s what he stresses in his lectures, and his exams reflect that emphasis.
Student: OK, so you’re saying I’m not going to get all of these different ideas if I only read and don’t go to class.
Advisor: Precisely. But there’s a bigger issue here. And this is why I was saying I like to get the freshmen into my office as soon as possible. Each professor has a different approach to what he or she wants the students to take away from a class.
Student: Yeah. I’m beginning to see that.
Advisor: Part of being a successful student is being aware of what professors expect of their students. So, you should pay close attention in the first few lectures when your professors outline the course, and ask them if you’re not sure what they expect.
Student: The class is huge, so I can’t really…
Advisor: Well, in the case of the big lecture courses, you actually have another resource: the teaching assistants, you know, the TAs. A lot of times they even have … or, can give a clearer explanation of what the professors expect since they were in your position not so long ago.
Student: So I should ask one of the TAs what to study for the exams?
Advisor: I’d say that for this particular class; ask the TAs or another student who’s doing well. Take your midterm to them and ask what kind of answers they think the professors were looking for. They won’t spell out exactly what will be on the future exams, but they can show you what kinds of things the professor tends to test. In other classes you can approach the professor easier. If they don’t have large lectures, you can get more attention during office hours. My point is, one way or another, make sure to find out what the professor requires his or her students to learn from the course.
Student: Alright, that makes sense.
Advisor: I promise you’ll be much happier if you do.
Student: You’re probably right.
Advisor: And, as for actually getting up and going to class … I can give you advice about courses, but you’re going to have to meet me halfway on this.
Student: OK, I hear what you’re saying.
Advisor: Good! So check back with me in a couple of weeks, and let me know how it’s going.
Student: I’ll do that. Thanks for the advice.
Advisor: Sure.

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