TOEFL Strategies to get a good score
Want to get the best score and achieve your dream scores? Here are the effective TOEFL Strategies to get the perfect score and achieve your dreams.
Introduction to TOEFL iBT
TOEFL iBT Exam is basically an internationally recognized Test Of English as a Foreign Language. TOEFL is a trademark of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which is a non-profit organization which designs and administers the test.
It is a standardized test to measure English language efficiency and the ability of non-native speakers who give the test. It was started in 1964. Also, you don’t get the TOEFL test results then and there. You receive the scores after 11-12 days after you have given the test and then you can send them to the universities.
There are two types of TOEFL iBT Exams- Internet-based test and Paper-based test. It is a four-hour long test and hence requires several months of study and preparation.
At times students find it really difficult to figure out how to approach the TOEFL. From general TOEFL test-day advice to prepare strategies for each of the four sections, the following article will guide students to get a very good score in the test.
General Preparation for TOEFL Strategies:
- Get to Know the TOEFL Format:
You should know what the TOEFL sections are, how these sections are arranged, how much time you’ll have on each section, and what kinds of questions and prompts you’ll get.
- Set a Goal Score:
A goal score is any total score that meets all of your schools’ minimum required (or recommended) TOEFL scores.
- Give Yourself Ample Time to Prepare:
Before you register for the TOEFL, set aside ample time to prepare for the exam and hone your English-language skills. Three to six months of study time should generally suffice.
- Choose an Early Test Date:
An early test date ensures that your TOEFL scores will get to your schools in time. TOEFL scores are sent automatically by mail to schools you selected during registration beginning 13 days after your test.
- Personalize Your Study Plan:
As you study for the TOEFL, always focus on what you don’t know rather than what you do know. Doing this ensures you’ll spend more time honing your weaknesses and will have a better chance of getting high scores on all four TOEFL sections.
Some of the most common types of weakness for test takers include:
- Content weaknesses: This means you’re struggling to understand specific concepts and topics. For example, if you struggle with vocabulary and grammar, drilling more vocabulary words and grammar patterns should eventually help you raise your TOEFL score.
- Format weaknesses: These weaknesses deal with structural elements of the TOEFL, mainly question types. For instance, if you’re constantly getting Reading to learn questions wrong, you’ll need to tailor your study plan so that you’re practising these question types more often than others.
- Strategy weaknesses: A strategy weakness means you’re having trouble with a particular approach or test-taking method. For example, you might struggle with pacing yourself on the Reading section, or you might not know how to take notes effectively on Listening.
TOEFL strategies for the Reading Section:
In this section, we give you an array of preparation and test-day strategies for the TOEFL Reading section.
- Read Complex Texts
The best way to improve your reading ability is to read as many English-language texts as you can. By doing this, you’ll not only enhance your vocabulary and grammar knowledge, but you’ll also learn how arguments are structured and what ultimately makes them compelling to read. Popular newspapers, journals, and magazines are excellent places to start.
As you read, be sure you understand the main point of the text and what the author is trying to say. You should also be able to identify what kinds of transitions and organizational patterns the author uses in order to effectively present his or her thoughts.
- Choose a Reading Strategy That Works Well for You
Before taking the TOEFL, you must decide on a reading strategy. Whether you want to:
- Read the entire passage first or
- Skim the passage and then answer the questions or
- Answer the questions paragraph by paragraph or
- Read the questions first
- Pace Yourself
Many test takers run out of time on Reading. On this section, you’ll have 60-80 minutes to read three to four passages and answer 36-56 total questions. Since you’ll have 12-14 questions per passage, try to spend no more than 20 minutes on each passage and question set. More specifically, spend about five minutes reading the passage and about one minute per question.
- Search for Evidence in the Passages
The trick to Reading is that all questions can be answered using specific evidence in the passages. In other words, all of the information you need to answer a Reading question is directly given to you in the passage—you just have to find it!
Skip Difficult Questions and Return to Them Later
If you encounter a Reading question you don’t understand, don’t spend a large amount of time worrying about it—just skip it and move on. Moving past difficult questions lets you pace yourself more efficiently and also prevents you from spending too much time working on a single question.
Double-Check Your Answers
If you have extra time at the end of the Reading section, briefly double-check all of your answers. This way you can ensure you didn’t accidentally mark a different answer choice than the one you wanted and that you answered all questions in the section. Double-checking is especially helpful because it lets you look at your answer choices with a fresh set of eyes.
TOEFL strategies for the Listening Section:
Following are the best TOEFL strategies for the Listening section-
- Watch and Listen to English News and Podcasts:
One great way to improve your listening skills is to watch English-language stations. Podcasts allow you to hear how native speakers talk in English.
- Be Able to Understand Different English Accents:
On TOEFL Listening, most speakers will have a North American accent, but you will also hear at least one non-North American accent, which could be a UK, Australian, or New Zealand accent.
- Pay Close Attention to Replayed Audio Clips:
In the Listening section, sometimes a small clip from a lecture or conversation you listened to will be replayed before answers a particular question. In these cases, always pay close attention to the replayed clip. This is because the clip will for sure contain the answer to the question that comes after it.
TOEFL strategies for the Speaking Section:
Below are the strategies to crack the speaking section-
Talk to Native English Speakers:
By far the best way to practice your English-speaking skills is to actually go out and speak with native English speakers.
A big part of the Speaking section is being intelligible, or being able to be understood. The truth is, most non-native English speakers have an accent to some degree, and that’s perfectly fine! What’s not fine, however, is being asked to repeat yourself, or being misunderstood when you say certain English words.
Note that you will not lose points for not having an accent.
- Enunciate and Use a Natural Pace:
During the TOEFL, you’ll record your answers into a microphone attached to a computer, so make sure you’re speaking clearly for the raters to be able to understand you without issue. This means you’ll need to use correct pronunciation as well as natural intonations.
- Ignore Background Noise and Speak Up:
On test day, other test takers in the testing room will likely get to the Speaking section around the same time you do. This can make it difficult to focus on what you’re saying and whether you’re speaking loud enough for raters to be able to hear your responses.
- Talk the Whole Time:
You’ll need to speak for the entirety of the time limit. If you don’t use up all of the time you’re given to speak, you’ll likely lose points. Therefore, you’ll need to practice answering TOEFL Speaking prompts so that you are able to speak for precisely 45 and 60 seconds.
- Don’t Pause for Too Long:
Although slight pauses are normal and even expected on the TOEFL, you’ll only have 45-60 seconds to speak, so try not to insert too many lengthy pauses.
TOEFL strategies for the Writing Section:
At last, the TOEFL Writing section! Below, we introduce the most useful strategies for TOEFL Writing preparation.
Practice Timed Writing:
On task 1, you’ll have just 20 minutes to write a response of 150-225 words. On task 2, you’ll have slightly more time—30 minutes—to write a longer response of at least 300 words. In total, then, you’ll have less than an hour to write two essays. Look at Sample High-Scoring Responses. With this resource, you can see what high-scoring, mid-scoring, and low-scoring responses look like for both the Integrated and Independent Writing tasks. You can also find many unofficial sample TOEFL responses online.
- Memorize Common Transitions:
Another tip is to memorize transitions. Transitions are words and phrases that connect similar thoughts or indicate changes in thought. In TOEFL Writing, transitions can make your writing sound smoother and help your thoughts flow well.
- Make an Outline:
Using your scratch paper, jot down the three main points you want to discuss as well as any key details or examples you can use to support your points. Your outline doesn’t need to be super detailed, so feel free to just write down a few keywords—don’t bother writing full sentences. Also, don’t write any introductions or conclusions.
- Think quality, not quantity:
Shorter, well-written responses are fine. Many of the responses that receive scores of 4 or 5 are only one paragraph long. On the other hand, many longer responses receive only a 2 or a 3. If you use transitions and clear language, you can fit all of your reasons and details into one smooth paragraph. That will really impress your rater.
Test-Day TOEFL strategies:
Let’s look at the top TOEFL strategies to help you stay confident on test day.
- Get Enough Sleep and Eat Breakfast:
In truth, test-day strategies actually start the night before test day! To get a good TOEFL score, you must first and foremost take care of yourself. You should also eat a healthy, filling breakfast. Nerves can make lose your appetite, but in the end, you’ll feel worse if you don’t eat at all. Keep yourself hydrated during a break.
- Read All of the Answer Choices:
On multiple-choice Reading and Listening questions, take time to read all of the answer choices. Many times test takers only skim the answer choices or mistakenly choose the first answer choice that looks right. Both of these habits often result in an incorrect answer.
- Use the Process of Elimination:
If you don’t understand, don’t guess before trying to use the process of elimination.
Here’s how the process works: instead of looking for the correct answer choice, you’ll look for the wrong answer choices. The more incorrect choices you can eliminate, the higher chance you’ll have of selecting the correct answer.
- Take Notes Often and Effectively:
On test day you’ll get scratch paper, you can use for taking notes during the TOEFL. While you won’t need to take notes on Reading, you’ll definitely want to take notes on Listening, Speaking, and Writing.
Answer Every Question:
Like other tests, there are no penalties for wrong answers on the TOEFL hence you will not lose any points. Therefore, you should always answer every question in a section to ensure you’ll have the best possible shot at getting the score you want.
- Stay Calm:
Most importantly, stay calm as you take the test. The TOEFL is a long and tricky exam, especially for first-timers, so you’ll need to find ways to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
As you take the TOEFL, try to stay as focused as possible. Letting your nerves get to you can make you lose concentration or commit careless mistakes. If you find that you’re feeling overwhelmed at any moment, take a 10-second pause to stretch and breathe. We have given you the best TOEFL strategies and we hope that these TOEFL strategies will help you to get your desired score.