A Student Preparing for TOEFL

Updated 2020

Effectively Preparing for the TOEFL Test

The TOEFL iBT test measures test-takers’ abilities to comprehend and use the English language at university level. It includes 4 sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Multiple universities require applicants to acquire a specific score or higher on the test in order to be accepted as a student.

People take the TOEFL test for various reasons. Here are some of the most common people who take the test.

  • Students pursuing higher education at an institution abroad
  • International workers and students applying for visas
  • Students applying for university scholarship
  • Candidates applying for English language learning programs

If you fall into one of these categories and are planning to give the TOEFL test soon, here’s a quick guide on how to prepare for the TOEFL test effectively.

Consume English Content

If you’re not a native English speaker, it’s best to familiarize yourself with how native English speakers pronounce words. Thus, you should watch English news, TV shows, movies, podcasts, and YouTube videos. The voices in the listening section of the TOEFL exam include accents from North America, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. You can improve your listening skills if you listen to content from these countries. Continuous exposure will help you understand their accents easily during the test.

To improve your comprehension skills, spend about 30 minutes reading English content each day. This includes books and online content. Read long-form news content because that will help you understand how writers make their arguments. Knowing how arguments and points are made will help you break them down and understand what they mean.

Familiarize Yourself with the Test Format

To do well on the TOEFL test you must know what to expect in it. This includes the number of sections, what those sections include, how many questions are in those sections, and how much time you’ll be given for each section and in total.

Here’s what the structure looks like according to ETS.

TOEFL Test STructure

The structure of the test is never exactly the same, which means that the time limit and the number of questions for each section aren’t the same in every test. The total time for each TOEFL exam is approximately 4 hours.

Practice with Official Practice Tests

There are official practice tests that you can use to get good at the test before your test day. You can access these from the ETS website. Ensure that the environment you take your practice test in is similar to that of the exam. Complete each practice test in one stretch and within the allowed time limit. This will help you keep track of how you work in an exam situation.

Identify Your Weaknesses

Completing practice tests is an excellent way to identify what parts you’re underperforming in. Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, give extra attention to improving your performance in those parts of the test. This way, you can improve your overall score. Practice every part of the test, but spend a little more time working on doing better in the sections you underperform on the test.

The TOEFL test is like any other – the more you practice for it, the better you’ll do at the test. It’s okay if you struggle with certain sections of the test. Just give it time and put your focus on improving, and you’ll definitely get there.