How To Prepare For TOEFL

How To Prepare For TOEFL

Last updated on 13th Oct 2020, Artciles, Blog

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What is TOEFL?

TOEFL, Test of English as a Foreign Language, measures the English language skills of non-native English speakers who wish to enroll in undergraduate/graduate programmes in English-speaking universities. 

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Why Should Study Abroad Aspirants Take the TOEFL?

The English-speaking universities seek to assess the English language skills of the applicants to determine if they will be able to successfully complete a program taught in English. Over 10,000 universities and institutions in around 150 countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and throughout Europe and Asia, accept TOEFL scores for this purpose. Therefore, a good TOEFL score increases your chances of getting an admit from your desired university.  

How to Prepare for TOEFL?

Speaking of a good score in TOEFL, the first question that comes to a student’s mind is “how to get one?” Well, the answer is you need to prepare for it. Stick around as we give you a detailed guide on how to prepare for TOEFL. 

TOEFL Preparation – How to go About It?

Each part of the TOEFL includes in-depth English language skills, therefore, you should start your exam preparations well in advance. Many students ask, “How to prepare for TOEFL at home?” There are plenty of great resources available to help you prepare for the exam— from good TOEFL books to online guides. Whatever route you select, make

 sure you take regular practice tests to prepare for the 3-hour exam, as this will improve your endurance, speed, and confidence.
Now you may ask, “How much time is required to prepare for TOEFL?” The simple answer is – it is practised that matters, and for rigorous practice, you need to start your preparations well in advance. You should start studying at least 2-3 months before the test. However, that depends on the test taker’s existing level of aptitude in the language, that is, some may need less time, while others may need more time for TOEFL preparation. 

What is the TOEFL Exam Pattern?

Before moving to the preparation tips, let’s start with the basics first and get a glimpse of the exam pattern of TOEFL. The TOEFL pattern was revised on August 1, 2019. Earlier, the examination was for 3 hours and 30 minutes, but now it is for 3 hours.

How to Prepare for TOEFL? Section-wise Tips

As can be seen from the exam pattern, TOEFL consists of 4 sections – Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking. Each of these sections needs to be prepared thoroughly to get a good overall TOEFL score. Given below are preparation tips for each section which you can refer to, to give your preparations an overall boost. 

1. Reading

  1. 1. Improving your vocabulary is one of the foremost ways to ace this section. To improve your vocabulary, you should read voraciously, especially texts
  2.  2. on business, arts, sciences, and social sciences. You could also group word lists as per academic subjects such as biology, geology, psychology. Try to learn the meanings of suffixes, prefixes, and common roots of words as much as you can. 
  3. 3. Study the organization of academic texts. Look for the main ideas in the text, and pay attention to the relationship between them. Then make a list of them, and finally write a summary of the text.  If the text is a comparison, make sure it is reflected in your summary. If two points of view are argued in the text, be sure that both are reflected in your summary.
  4. 4. Read a reading passage from any academic text. Write a ‘headline’ for each paragraph keeping in mind the core of the text. The ‘headline’ should be short (5 to 8 words) followed by a 5 to a 6-sentence summary of the entire passage.
  5. 5. Practice reading by timing yourself to increase your reading speed.
  6. 6. Practice skimming a passage quickly to get a general impression of the main idea rather than reading each word and each sentence carefully.
  7. 7. Pick some unfamiliar words from the passage and try to guess their meanings from the surrounding sentences. Later confirm their meanings. 
  1. 1. Keep a reading log where you write summaries or answers to the texts you are reading.
  2. 2. If the information in the text comprises classification, construct a map and categorize the information accordingly. 
  3. 3. Use tables, lists, and diagrams to construct oral or written summaries of the passage.

2. Listening

  1. 1. Listen to a variety of topics; begin with recordings on familiar topics and then move to new topics with higher difficulty level and longer duration.
  2. 2. Listen to each recording actively several times: first, listen with English subtitles on and then listen again, focusing on the link between ideas. Try distinguishing fact from opinion. 
  3. 3. Hold a log of the new words and phrases that you hear.
  4. 4. Think about what each speaker hopes to achieve and the purpose of the lecture or conversation. 
  5. 5. Make a note of the speaker’s style, degree of certainty (if the speaker is sure of what he is saying), stress and intonation, transitions/changes in topics, repetition of ideas and paraphrases.
  6. 6. Hear, connect and synthesize ideas.
  7. 7. Stop recording, to sum up, what you’ve just learned.

3. Speaking

  1. 1. Use language to give opinions, explain problems and solutions, and establish comparison and contrast. 
  2. 2. Learn to use idiomatic and informal speech, contractions (I’m, who’s) and work on pronunciation, stress, and intonation.
  3. 3. Practice free speaking. Make a list of subjects, academic or non-academic (sports, travel, hobbies, etc.), and practice talking about them.
  4. 4. Learn as much as possible: read an article or listen to a conversation. Prepare a review of it or give a 1-minute opinion speech.

4. Writing

  1. 1. Study paragraph organization and essays. 
  2. 2. Practice typing on a QWERTY keyboard.
  3. 3. Learn to find synonyms.
  4. 4. Practice and write down your explanation by listening to recorded lectures or talks online.
  5. 5. Use the noun form of a word to write a phrase, and then express the same meaning using the verb form.
  6. 6. Try to paraphrase 2 or 3 sentences. And then move on to paraphrasing paragraphs and longer passages.
  7. 7. Use an English textbook and read chapters from there. Go to the end of the chapter that contains questions about the content and write answers to the questions.
  8. 8. Make a list of common topics and write essays on them. The practice of arranging, writing, and revising each essay takes 30 minutes.

How to Prepare for TOEFL One Week before the Exam?

  1. 1. Benefit from the study experiences of others. Join online chat rooms, forums, or websites for social networking. Network with students who took the exam to learn from their experiences.
  2. 2. Focus on strengthening your weaker areas by spending extra time on them.
  3. 3. Take practice tests. Try to replicate the real learning experience for each section by taking multiple mock tests.
  4. 4. Ask a teacher or coach to evaluate your performance on the tests. 
  5. 5. Gather your documents and keep them ready beforehand.
  6. 6. Plan your trip to the exam centre in advance. Determine the best way to get to the centre. Check your account online the day to check if there is any change in information, such as test room or starting time. 

What are the Points to Keep in Mind During TOEFL?

General Tips

  1. 1. Carry all the necessary documents to the centre.
  2. 2. Reach your exam centre on time.
  3. 3. Do your job. Work calmly and concentrate on the questions, do not rush, and do your best.
  4. 4. Don’t cheat, since your test will be cancelled if you are caught cheating.

Exam Tips

  1. 1. Read each question carefully. Some questions ask for more than one answer. Questions including the word “not” ask about a negative situation.
  2. 2. Don’t panic. Just concentrate on the current question. Don’t think about how you answered, or other questions which are yet to be answered.
  3. 3. Pace yourself so that you have got enough time to answer the questions. Be aware of the time limit for each section/task and allot sufficient time to each section.
  4. 4. You can go back to review and change your answers in the reading section by clicking on ‘Review.’ It is best to do this only after all the questions have been answered.
  5. 5. The toolbar shows you how many questions you have answered and how many questions you are yet to answer. To determine whether you need to go quicken your pace, use the toolbar.

What is an Ideal TOEFL Score?

TOEFL doesn’t pass or fail you, so what is a good TOEFL score depends on which university and program you’re applying for. Some colleges settle for scores close to 100, and you should get at least 80 points to get admitted into good graduate schools. 

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Usually, TOEFL acts as a cutoff instead of a selector. A score in the range of 24-30 is good for the writing section. Scores in the ranges of 22-30 and 26-30 are considered to be fair enough for the reading or listening sections and the speaking section respectively.


Scoring well in TOEFL is not a menial task, but be assured that if you follow the aforementioned preparation tips for TOEFL and are consistent with your preparations, nothing can stop you from achieving your target score. If you need further assistance with TOEFL preparation, contact GyanDhan. We get you in touch with leading TOEFL preparation institutes that will leave no stone unturned in guiding you the right way in your preparation. What’s more? You can avail our assistance absolutely for free!

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