Last Updated: February 18, 2021

TOEFL Tips

1.Master the Language

Try to use English every day in your conversations and thoughts. Make every note you want to take down in English. Understand that language is a part of everyday life and does not always require a specific time and place for study. If you are conversing in another language, make sure that you include English words in your sentences to get the hang of using good vocabulary in a context.

2.Start Journaling as a habit

Keep a book specifically for putting down random thoughts and information you come across every day. Writing about yourself, your feelings and your day-to-day experiences is an easy way to organize thoughts and practice your writing skills. Reading this out loud later will let you assess yourself as well.

3.Listen to any American news channel/Discovery channel

Paying attention to news channels will both make you aware of the world and improve your listening skills. Information you gather eventually lets you speak more about topics that you may come across in the examination.

4.Writing

While practicing writing skills, choose a topic and organize the content that has formed in your head. Decide what the main ideas are going to be and always center your content based on these main ideas. Connect these ideas. Do NOT leave any loose ends or leave arguments hanging. The connection between ideas can be to show contrast, cause, and effect or even just a series of ideas that come as a numerical list. Make sure that even numerical lists are written in an essay format without bullet points.

5.Listening

While practicing for the Listening section, focus on the different accents that are commonly asked. Unlike IELTS most speakers in TOEFL will have a North American accent. But there will be at least one accent that is different and could be of UK, Australia, or New Zealand. Actively listen to news and podcasts from other countries by native-English speakers who reside outside. Use TOEFL CD from ETS. That is the best material available and is a must for practice. You would see the same type of screen (UI), and you will feel comfortable after using the CD.

6.Reading

Read whatever you can find. This may include fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, or any complex text you can find. This helps you learn more vocabulary and increase grammar-related knowledge. While reading focus on the structure of the argument made or the ways in which thoughts are organized to adopt similar methods into your writing.

7.Reading Strategies

There are mainly four strategies that people adopt while attempting the reading section. You can either read the entire passage first or skim through the passage and then answer the questions, you may read the questions first and then tackle the passage or even answer the questions paragraph by paragraph. Adopting a method for yourself depends on your comfortability level and also requires practice.

8.Speaking

Try talking to native English speakers either in person or online. Focus on your pronunciation and other grammatical inaccuracies. Ensure that what you say is clear and understandable. Accents are fine as long as you don't mispronounce words drastically. Focus on sounds in English that are absent in your mother tongue and learn pronunciations accordingly. If you are practicing for the test alone, record your speech and listen to it to find errors.

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9.Answer all Questions

There is no negative marking (penalty) for unanswered questions. This implies that if you are certain that you do not know the answer to a question you can always guess an answer and move on to the next question. In the multiple-choice questions, there will always be four options which always gives you a 25% chance of choosing the right answer even if you are guessing.

10.Read all Answer Choices

People often make the mistake of not reading questions and options thoroughly before choosing the answer. The questions may be tricky and otherwise a little complicated to understand in a single read. Always ensure that you have understood the options before choosing what seems right in your first reading.

11.Elimination Process for MCQs

Questions that do not have an immediate answer have to be read thoroughly and analyzed through the process of elimination. Look for the obviously wrong answers which may have the exact opposite content of what you are looking for or which may refer to something that has not been mentioned at all in the passage. Eliminate these options one by one until you have the right answer.

12.Pacing is Important

While preparing for the test, once you have covered the basics, practice with a time frame. People who are highly proficient in the language often lose marks because they were unable to complete the test though they knew the answers. You can ideally only spend around 20 minutes on each of the three to four passages that will be provided. If you further divide this time, you will realize that you can only take five minutes to read a passage if you need at least one minute per question.

13.Aim for 100

Always aim for a safe score during preparation. After attempting a sample paper and scoring yourself, keep a target that can be at least 20 points above your initial score. If this is not possible, aim for a 100 which is not the best nor the least score you can receive. Generally, the minimum required score for Universities/departments varies from 78-100 and therefore 100+ is a very safe score.

14.Use the Best Prep Materials

The prep materials you choose should always be those that improve your skills. The official books created by ETS like the TOEFL iBT Interactive Sampler and TOEFL iBT Quick Prep. Through these resources, you can get an experience that is closest to taking the real test. But considering how expensive they are, you may have to consider which book you would rather invest in.

15.IELTS or TOEFL?

You can take IELTS instead of TOEFL (most universities accept both of them). Depending on your target universities choose wisely. Remember that TOEFL is a language proficiency test and cannot be a replacement for GRE / SAT / ACT / GMAT scores.


Good Luck!



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