Ultimate Guide to TOEFL: Everything You Need to Know

Ultimate Guide to TOEFL: Everything You Need to Know

TOEFL

TOEFL test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is an English proficiency test for non-native speakers of English. The TOEFL test is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). So, There are two formats for the TOEFL test: the Internet-based Test (iBT) and the Paper-delivered Test (PDT). The iBT has been administered since 2005 and consists of four sections: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. 

The PDT was introduced in 2017 and consists of three sections: Reading, Writing, and Listening. And it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.

TOEFL Exam Preparation Tips​

Preparing for the TOEFL exam can be a daunting task, but with the right strategies and resources, you can achieve your desired score. So, Here are some Essential tips to help you Succeed:

1) Start Early:

Begin your TOEFL Preparation well in advance exam, including the four sections ( Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing), question types, time limits, and scoring criteria. This understanding will help you approach each section confidently on exam day. And Give yourself ample time to prepare thoroughly.

2) Improve Your English Skills:

  1. Reading: Read English newspapers, journals, and books to enhance your comprehension skills.
  2. Listening: Listen to English podcasts, news, and lectures to improve your listening abilities.
  3. Speaking: Practice speaking English with friends or use language exchange platforms.
  4. Writing: Write essays on various topics and seek feedback to improve your writing skills.

3) Take practice tests:

Complete full-length practice tests from official TOEFL resources to identify weaknesses and build stamina. Practise test are crucial for assessing your progress, identifying strength and weaknesses, and getting familiar with the exam environment. Take full length practice tests under time conditions to simulate the actual test experience. 

4) Manage time wisely:

Learn TOEFL strategies to pace yourself, especially for Reading and Listening sections with many questions in limited time. Develop time management strategies to ensure you complete each section within the allotted time. And Practice regularly, stay focused, and approach the test with confidence.

5) Use official TOEFL Materials:

Utilise official TOEFL study materials, such as practice tests, sample questions, and study guides provided by ETS (Educational Testing Service). Take full-length practice tests under times conditions to simulate the actual tect experience.

6) Analyse Your Performance:

After taking practice tests, review your answers and analyse areas where you need improvement. Focus on refining your skills in those areas through targeted practice and study.

7) Seek Feedback and Guidance:

Get feedback on your speaking and writing responses from teachers, tutors or online resources. This will help you identify strengths and areas needing improvement. Join online TOEFL forums or communities to get insights from others preparing for the exam. Learn from their experiences and share tips.

Common Challenges in TOEFL Exam Preparation

Common Challenges in TOEFL Exam Preparation​

Here are some common challenges students face when preparing for the TOEFL exam:

Time Management:

The TOEFL tests have strict time limits, so proper time management during the test is crucial. Many students struggle to complete all questions within the allotted time, especially in the Reading and Listening sections.

They can also prioritise questions based on difficulty level, ensuring they allocate more time to complex tasks while quickly completing easier ones. Practising under timed conditions that will help you in developing efficient time management strategies.

Integrated Tasks:

The Speaking and Writing sections have integrated tasks that require comprehending and synthesizing information from reading and listening passages. Combining these skills can be difficult for some students. Practice active reading and listening to identify main ideas and important details. 

Develop proficient note-taking skills to capture relevant information quickly. Learn techniques to outline, organize and logically connect information from sources. Complete integrated task practice questions while adhering to time limits.

Stamina and Concentration:

The TOEFL is a lengthy test, and maintaining focus and stamina over 3-4 hours can be mentally draining, especially with intense sections back-to-back.  Take full-length practice tests at home in one sitting to build stamina. Get used to concentrating for extended periods. The TOEFL has built-in breaks. Use them to close your eyes, stretch, or do relaxing activities to recharge.

Scoring System of the TOEFL Exam

Scoring Test Structure

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam assesses your proficiency in English across four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each section is scored separately, and the scores are then combined to give you a total score.

Overall Sores:

  • The total score range is 0-120 points.
  • It is calculated by adding the four sectional scores together.

Sectional Scores:

  • Reading: 0-30 points
  • Listening: 0-30 points
  • Speaking: 0-30 points
  • Writing: 0-30 points

Each sectional score is calculated as follows:

Reading:

  • There are 3-4 reading passages, each with 10 questions
  • Each correct answer is worth 1 raw point
  • The raw score is converted to a scaled score of 0-30

Listening:

  • Has 4-6 lectures (6 questions each) and 2-3 conversations (5 questions each)
  • Each correct answer is worth 1 raw point
  • The raw score is converted to a scaled 0-30 score

Speaking:

  • 4 speaking tasks are evaluated across 3 scoring areas: delivery, language use, topic development
  • Each scoring area is rated on a scale of 0-4, for a total of 0-12 per task
  • The 4 task scores are combined for a total of 0-30

Writing:

  • The integrated task is scored 0-5
  • The independent essay is scored 0-5
  • The two scores are combined and converted to a 0-30 scale

Mastering the TOEFL

Mastering the TOEFL​

Achieving a high score on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a goal for many students aiming to study abroad in English-speaking countries. Mastering the TOEFL requires understanding the test format, effective preparation, and strategic test-taking skills. And, if you do not have a good command over vocabulary and their usage then it is quite difficult to prepare well within a short period of time. So, if you do not know those spare some time to master the vocabulary and then prepare for the main test.

Reading Section:

Reading section

Reading seems to be the easiest part, but when you have to read three to four passages and answer all the questions in a timed environment, the challenge is huge. So, when you prepare for the reading section make sure you do the following:

  1. Build Academic Vocabulary- Make vocabulary lists from practice tests and learn common academic words. Know roots, prefixes, and suffixes to decipher unknown words.
  1. Practice Active Reading Techniques- Skim passages first to get the main idea. Take notes on key points, names, dates, definitions etc.
  1. Identify Passage Structure and Organization- Recognize compare/contrast, cause/effect, problem/solution patterns. Note signal words that indicate relationships between ideas
  1. Answer Question Types Strategically – For detail questions, scan for specific facts/numbers. For inference questions, examine the passage context carefully.

Listening Section:

TOEFL Listening Section

This section tests your ability to understand academic related lectures and discussions. Because in academia, you will be attending classes where the sole medium of communication is English. You will also participate in and contribute to seminars and class discussion. But To develop your listening skills you should do the following:

  1. Listen to variety of academic topics including biology, history, ecology, anthropology etc.
  2. When listening to the audios, listen for important nouns, transitional words, main ideas, and key relationships. 
  3. If you struggle with one exercise, keep listening to the same one till you understand it properly.
  4. Aside from practicing listening materials, listen to English podcasts.

Writing Section:

Writing Section

You can not develop your writing skill overnight. A good English writer already has years of experience writing and using English in their daily life. While you learn writing we suggest you to do as follows:

  • To learn to write well, you need to be a good reader first. You do not need to memorize the scripts, but you should be able to reproduce similar passages. Be familiar with several type of topics, the more you read , the more your writing skills will be improved. 
  • Understand the different types of question patterns that will appear in the independent writing section.
  • Learn to express your opinion clearly on an issue.
  • Learn to write a good introductory and concluding paragraph.
  • Write 3 main body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should have a main idea and relevant examples with details to support the main idea.
  • Learn the usage of transition words to connect your ideas.

Speaking Section:

Speaking tips

You will interact with your fellow students outside of the lecture hall, mentor students in the LAB, will have team projects to prepare with your peers, and obviously need to communicated your ideas and thoughts with your supervisor, university administration and local community. 

  • Practice is the key — the more you practice speaking, the more you do well in this section. Always speak up — don’t put the words inside your mind. Make sure your response is loud and lucid; always pay attention to your pronunciation, intonation, grammar, organization and fluency.
  • Listen to the sample responses carefully and learn how they have prepared the answer for any particular question. And You do not need to memorize any scripts. But you need to learn about the patterns that you should follow to prepare your response so that you can get a good score.

General TOEFL Questions

FAQ' s

Q. How should I prepare for the TOEFL?

Use official TOEFL preparation materials from ETS, take practice tests, and engage in regular practice for all four sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing).

Q. What skills does the TOEFL test?

The TOEFL tests your skills in reading, listening, speaking, and writing. It aims to assess your ability to communicate effectively in an academic setting.

Reading: This section tests your ability to understand and analyze written academic texts. 

Listening: Your skills in comprehending spoken English in an academic context are evaluated here. 

Speaking: The speaking section measures your ability to effectively communicate your ideas orally in English.

Writing: This section tests your skills in composing well-structured and coherent written English.

Q. Why should I take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is often required for admission to English-speaking universities and can be used for visa applications, scholarship programs, and certification purposes.

Q: How is the TOEFL scored?

Each section is scored on a scale of 0-30, and the total score ranges from 0-120. The Reading and Listening sections are scored based on the number of correct answers, while the Speaking and Writing sections are scored by human raters and automated scoring systems.

Q. How soon can I retake the TOEFL if I’m not satisfied with my score?

If you’re not satisfied with your TOEFL score, you can retake the test as soon as 12 days after your previous test date. Here are some key points about retaking the TOEFL:

  • There is no limit to how many times you can retake the test, but you must wait at least 12 days after your previous test date before registering for a new test date.
  • Your new test date must be at least 12 days after your previous test date. For example, if you took the TOEFL on June 1st, the earliest date you could retake it is June 13th.
  • When you retake, your new scores will automatically overwrite your previous scores and get sent out to institutions you designated. 
  • You cannot reinstate previous test scores once you have a new test date.
  • It’s recommended to allow enough preparation time between tests, usually at least 4-6 weeks, to allow for feedback review and additional studying.
  • Be aware that retake scores could go up or down from your original test.

Q. What is TOEFL iBT Exam vs TOEFL Home Edition Test?

As the name suggests, the TOEFL Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) is the online version of the TOEFL test for candidates looking to appear for their exams. It is the preferred medium of TOEFL due to its ease of convenience and uses fewer resources. TOEFL iBT test centres have been authorised across the country in major cities to hold these TOEFL exams. 

In response to COVID-19, ETS has launched the TOEFL Home Edition for locations where the computer-based format of the TOEFL iBT test was earlier available for the convenience of students who are required to take the English test as part of their application process for studying abroad. However, candidates need to make sure that they meet the system equipment requirements set by ETS before registering for the TOEFL exam.

Q. What are TOEFL My Best scores?

TOEFL Practice Test TOEFL Practice Test

 Since it is an English language test, TOEFL requires its candidates to have a good command of the English language. Like the other standardized tests required to study abroad, TOEFL is divided into sections. Every section has its importance and hence needs to be prepared accordingly. With four sections in total, the exam requires dedicated time to cover and excel in each section. Once you are done with your preparation, you may test your abilities through a TOEFL practice test to see how far you have reached in your preparation. It is essential to understand how to practice for TOEFL: Practice Tests and Samples. 

TOEFL Scholarships 2024 

TOEFL exam scholarship: One of the biggest drawbacks of studying abroad is having to pay tuition fees in foreign currency clubbed with high living expenses. But Due to such reasons, a lot of times, many sections of students are unable to go abroad and end up settling down for other alternatives. However, with the availability of various study abroad scholarships and education loans, students can finally make their dreams come true. Scholarships are available on the official website of every college, along with other fellowships and grants that are awarded to deserving students regularly.