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Best TOEFL tips and strategies

TOEFL Preparation Tips

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a test designed to assess the student’s ability to speak as well as understand the English language through reading, speaking, listening and writing. These are the four main skills required to carry out academic studies. Institutions or universities use this test to make sure that the students are capable enough to understand their chosen course in a nation where the curriculum is taught in English.

The TOEFL test is usually conducted online which is widely known as TOEFL iBT (internet-based test). ETS has recently launched TOEFL Test on Paper in India to make the test accessible to candidates who wish to apply for the exam.

Like any other test you have taken in school or college, you can ace TOEFL as well. We understand that preparing for TOEFL can be quite stressful but it doesn’t have to be. We have compiled a few tips to help you get started, so have a look – 

1. Understand the test pattern

Before you blindly start studying any topic related to the TOEFL exam off the internet, you must study and familiarize yourself with the test’s pattern, syllabus and the scoring. 

2. Know the university requirements

It is necessary to study the requirements of the university or institution you have applied to or are planning on applying. The minimum TOEFL scores accepted by universities may vary. Well-known universities often require a score of 100 or higher while others range from 60 to 90. So, decide what your goal score is, then work hard to get there by thorough preparation.

3. Don’t rush to take the test

If you think you are not confident enough to take the test then delay it for a few months. Feeling nervous before the test is understandable but if you think you are not prepared for the test then do not sign up for it. Take the time to strengthen your foundation and study intensively. 

4. Create a study plan and stick to it

Bearing in mind the university requirement scores, decide a target score for yourself and build a study plan to achieve it. There are four sections in TOEFL and each section requires separate preparation so ensure that you draft a study plan which focuses on all of them equally. Determine how much time you require for each section and plan your schedule accordingly.

Follow your study schedule every day consistently but spare time for other activities as well. 

5. Evaluate your study plan

Make changes to your schedule from time to time. Evaluate your progress and make adjustments to the study plan. 

6. Practice tests

Practice makes a man (and a woman) perfect so as a part of your preparation, you should regularly take practice tests. Schedule a test every week or every 15 days to know your progress. Spend time working on improving the section or questions of the test that you are struggling with. 

You must keep in mind your target score as you can only know if you are nearing it through those practice tests. 

Lastly, remember that the TOEFL test has a time limit. When you practice, try answering the sections within the stipulated time frame. This helps in understanding the difference between time taken by you to finish a section and the ideal time to write.

You can make use of free TOEFL question papers curated by us.

7. Improve your grammar and vocabulary

Remember that this is a test specifically designed to assess your English language skills so ensure your knowledge of English is at the right level to pass the TOEFL. Practice new words to and try to frame sentences with them both in speaking and writing. 

8. Take good notes

When you find yourself reading a book or listening to a podcast, make a habit to take notes. It’s not necessary to copy anything verbatim because you won’t have that much time. Simply note down the relevant points to get the gist of it. Make sure to have your doubts cleared as soon as you can whenever you have any.

9. Section specific tips

(i) Reading – Read materials that cover a wide variety of topics like science, arts, finance, etc. The more broadly you read, the more you feel comfortable with different subjects. Since the TOEFL test topics are unknown, it is best to read widely to develop a broad comfort zone. 

(ii) Listening – There are various mediums through which you can develop your listening comprehension. For instance, listening to English radio or podcasts available on iTunes, talk show videos available on YouTube, etc. Try listening to audio clips having different accents.

(iii) Writing – Familiarize yourself with the QWERTY keyboard. While taking the writing test, struggling with the keyboard is not something you can afford. When preparing for the test, practice your writing section online to enhance your typing skills and to improve speed.

(iv) Speaking – Practice speaking in English at a normal pace initially. Improve your grammar and vocabulary and make an effort to use it when you are practicing your speech. Expand your vocabulary, improve your grammar and focus on pronunciations while speaking. The more you practice your speech, the more confident you will be while speaking English.

General Test-day Tips

  • Take care of yourself: Have a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast.
  • Stay calm. Extreme nervousness can be mentally harmful and if you are too stressed, it would affect your test performance. Try to relax.
  • Have faith in yourself. You have prepared a lot and the time has come to demonstrate your English language skills so be confident.
  • Read the instructions carefully before the tests begins.
  • There are no negative markings or penalties for wrong answers in TOEFL, so answer every question.
  • If you find a question too difficult, then move on and come back to it later.
  • Double-check your work.
  • Utilize the break time to stretch a little and drink some water.