How to Prepare for TOEFL

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

How to Prepare for TOEFL

Requirements for TOEFL

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test used to assess the English language proficiency of non-native speakers. One must learn how to prepare for TOEFL to ensure one passes this test. The requirements for taking the TOEFL vary depending on the purpose and institution, but some common ones include the following:

  • Age: Most test takers must be at least 16 years old.
  • English proficiency: The TOEFL is designed for non-native speakers of English who want to demonstrate their language abilities.
  • Educational or professional purpose: The TOEFL is commonly required for admission to English-speaking universities or colleges, certification for professional advancement, or visa application purposes.

It is important to check with the specific institution or organization you are applying to for their specific TOEFL requirements.

2 female students studying inside a library

Registration for the TOEFL

ETS does not permit registration at its numerous testing centers. Applicants can register for the TOEFL online, over the phone, or by mail.

Online Registration

Test-takers can register online using the TOEFL iBT registration website. Users must create a profile, select a test center location, choose a test date, select score recipients, and pay to register on the website.

Phone Registration

To register by phone, test takers must call their Regional Registration Center. Before contacting, they are instructed to study the registration form and have their payment method prepared. Test takers must manually provide their TOEFL registration numbers, including score receivers, country, and area codes while registering by phone. Acceptable payment methods include debit/credit cards, PayPal, and electronic checks.

Postal Registration

Download and complete a registration form in paper format. ETS recommends that test-takers spell their names exactly as they appear on the identification they will use at the testing center. Test registration numbers, including their region and score receivers, must be manually entered to mail a registration. At least four weeks prior to the exam date, paper forms must be submitted. Test-takers in the United States send registration forms and an authorized payment directly to ETS:

ETS-TOEFL iBT Registration Office

P.O. Box 6151

Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6151

Tips for studying for the TOEFL

Get to know the format.

It is important to know as you learn how to prepare for TOEFL to know the format. Even if your English is excellent, it is possible to be caught off guard by an exam format. Spend time on the official TOEFL website to familiarize yourself with its operation and gather any necessary information.

Be aware that you have two options for taking the exam: the internet-based test (or iBT) and the paper-based test. Currently, the former is significantly more prevalent, and you will likely engage in it. However, just in case, here is how each is organized.

The format of the internet-based test is as follows:

  • Reading (36-56 questions; 60-80 minutes)
  • Listening (34-51 questions; 60-90 minutes)
  • Speaking (6 tasks; 20 minutes)
  • Writing (2 essays; 50 minutes)

In contrast, the format of the paper-based test is as follows:

  • Listening (50 questions; 30-40 minutes)
  • Writing (40 questions; 25 minutes)
  • Reading (50 questions; 55 minutes)
  • Test of Written English (1 essay; 30 minutes)

Male student smiling in front of a class.

By familiarizing yourself with the test’s format, you will feel much more prepared and know what to expect on test day.

Obtain a study guide.

Obtaining a study guide is an additional excellent preparation method in studying for the TOEFL. A solid TOEFL book will guide you through each section by providing sound advice, strategy tips, practice questions, and sample responses. There are plenty of decent TOEFL books on the market and an abundance of poor ones. Fortunately, we have written about the greatest ones here.

Establish a study schedule.

Ideally, well in advance of your test. By creating and adhering to a timetable, you will save time and accomplish much more. Instead of delaying for five hours, you should simply study for one or two. If your test is a few months away, it is suggested that you begin with an hour every day and, as the test approaches, potentially increase this to two or three hours. You can lighten your schedule again in the penultimate week before your exam, devoting only an hour or less to skill refinement.

Idealistically, you won’t need to “cram” for your exam because you’ll be well-prepared due to your regimen.

Read and hear English outside of the TOEFL.

As you learn how to prepare for TOEFL, you should consider that not every aspect of your TOEFL preparation must be test-specific. Ultimately, this tests your real-world English proficiency, not just your grammatical precision. You will engage in a significant amount of “passive learning” by exposing yourself to everyday English. Consider reading novels or comics, viewing YouTube videos and films, and even listening to music. Not only is it enjoyable, but you will also learn a great deal by accident.

Exercise your speaking (even to yourself).

Speaking a language is frequently the most difficult aspect for most of us. It’s not technically tough, but if we lack confidence, it can be embarrassing. In addition, when we speak, we have less time to think, causing us to make mistakes.

However, here is something to remember: Every single speaker in the world, regardless of their native tongue, commits errors. With this in mind, it is wise to attempt to acquire speaking experience. If you do not feel comfortable conversing with others, converse with yourself! In the TOEFL iBT, you will speak into a microphone, but no one will listen in real-time.

Practice writing while timed.

Under the pressure of time, writing can be stressful. There are some students that take examinations in high school and college and would spend most of the time thinking of a concept just to end up frantically composing an essay in fifteen minutes to meet the deadline.

As such, it is a wise practice to occasionally set time constraints for their writing exercises. This will help you better organize your time by allowing a particular amount of time for planning, enough time for writing, and sufficient time for reviewing your work.

Practice taking notes.

On the TOEFL, you have just one opportunity to listen to each audio clip before answering questions or speaking about it. In light of this, you will need to take notes as the clip plays to remember what was said. However, few people can write at the speed of speech. Thus, it is essential to become a skilled note-taker.

Here is an illustration. The 12-word line, “My name is Sean, I’m thirty years old, and I’m from Ireland,” can take at least 10 seconds to type but only three seconds to utter. But what is the most important information? Sean, thirty years old, is from Ireland. Reduce it more in your notes: Sean, age 30, from Ireland. You can piece together the remaining information coherently in your mind if you only record the essential details.

Listen to short audio snippets on YouTube or elsewhere to get started. Practice noting the essential details while ensuring that you comprehend the entire clip. When you’re through listening, use these notes to reassemble the tale or clip.

You can even take notes on your tongue if that is more convenient. As you gain experience, increase the difficulty level and observe your performance.

Practice test, practice test, practice test.

This cannot be emphasized enough as you are trying to learn how to prepare for TOEFL. Set aside time once every week or two, or perhaps even more frequently, to complete practice questions and a whole practice exam. Again, this is to familiarize you with the complete test experience and allow you to hone your technique and skills.

Male student attending an online class in a room.

Practice is truly the best form of preparation. By the time your test arrives, you will be so accustomed to the experience that nothing will frighten you.

Make a game out of it.

Test preparation need not consist solely of discipline, concentration, and pressure. When you have the opportunity to reduce your workload, do so. As you understand how to prepare for TOEFL, one good tip is to make a game in your learning. The fact that learning is transformed into a game makes it more memorable and has a stronger impact than merely reading a study guide.

Try Scrabble, Pictionary, or 30 Seconds to learn vocabulary. Try to learn the lyrics of a song and videotape yourself as speaking practice. Whatever makes it enjoyable and unforgettable.

Remember the QWERTY keyboard.

Not everyone can understand this right away as they learn how to prepare for TOEFL. Using a QWERTY keyboard can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with it. Though the keyboard is normal to some people, not everyone is completely familiar with it. If you take the TOEFL iBT, you will use one of these keyboards, so practice as much as possible. The last thing you want is to run out of time when writing an essay due to slow typing.

Now that you have learned how to prepare for TOEFL, you should also learn how to enter college. Some students struggle to enter college. As such, you must get all the help you can get. AdmissionSight is known to be a leader in college admissions, with over 10 years of experience getting students into the best universities in the world. Set up an initial appointment today with AdmissionSight and get the best help with college admission.




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