TOEFL Preparation Tips:

The following are certain tips that can help you to make the most out of your TOEFL preparation:

  • There are a lot of materials and TOEFL practice tests available on internet that can help you better your scores in the TOEFL iBT test. You can also refer to the official website of TOEFL ETS (the test owning company), which provides a lot of free and paid materials for TOEFL preparation
  • The best you can do to improve your hold on English language is by using it in your day to day life. Utilise every chance you get, and communicate in English as much as you can. Read, write and speak in English in your daily life and you will easily improve. For example, you can read newspapers, articles, magazines, etc., and it will help you improve your vocabulary.
  • Try to speak in English in your day to day life, and when you do so, speak loudly and clearly with good pronunciation and intonation. Practice the pause. Speak with emotion and feeling that you use while speaking in your own language.

The candidates can refer to the following books and prep materials for their TOEFL preparation:

  • The Official Guide to the TOEFL
  • Official TOEFL iBT Tests Volume 1 & 2
  • Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test Book with Online Practice Tests
  • Cracking the TOEFL iBT
  • Kaplan TOEFL iBT Premier

Along with the prep materials, the candidates must also rely on the results from the TOEFL practice test to efficiently prepare for the test.

The candidates can avail all the above mentioned materials on Amazon. There are a lot of other free TOEFL preparation materials available on the internet that can be of great help for the candidates.

Let us analyse each section of the TOEFL online test and understand what the sections judge in a candidate and how to ace each section


iBT TOEFL speaking

As we have discussed before, the iBT TOEFL speaking section tends to judge your English proficiency or English speaking ability, which will be important for your education in the English speaking institutions. The tasks in this section judge the candidate’s ability to engage themselves inside the classroom while answering the questions, participate in discussions, and express themselves. Along with the ability to academically participate in the class, the speaking sections also checks whether the student will be able to communicate outside the class or not.

  • The speaking section of the TOEFL (iBT) is generally 20 minutes long, and the candidates will be asked six questions. The candidates are required to speak on a number of topics given to them in the form of tasks.
  • The candidates are provided with a headset with a microphone. The responses are recorded and sent to the TOEFL ETS Online Scoring Response for evaluation of the responses.
  • The speaking section will comprise of two independent speaking tasks and four integrated speaking tasks.
  • The independent tasks will require the candidate to formulate their own ideas, point of views and experiences in their responses. This task may ask the candidate to present his/her view on any particular topic and present genuine argument to support their view.
  • The integrated task will require the candidates to listen and/or read and speak the answers of the given questions. The questions will be based on the topic provided to the candidate. The task may belong to any of the following: reading passage, listening passage or excerpt from a lecture.

What does the iBT TOEFL Speaking Section measure?

After your responses are sent to the TOEFL ETS Online Scoring Network, a group of experts listen to the responses and evaluate them on the following parameters:

  • How well has the candidate delivered the response, which includes the clarity in speech, quality of pronunciation, and the intonation pattern of the response.
  • How well does the candidate use the time, how well does the candidate present his/her ideas and the relation between the question and the answer.
  • Proficiency in speaking English language and effectiveness in using the grammar and vocabulary.

The candidates need to understand that the experts who judge their responses do not expect perfect answer from them. Instead, they look for the above mentioned key English language characteristics in their response and rate them accordingly.

How to Prepare for TOEFL Speaking section?

In order to enhance your English language speaking skills, you may join English tutorial classes in your region. The tutorials can prove to be helpful in bettering your English speaking and conversation skills and they will act as a catalyst in your TOEFL preparation. If this idea does not suit you, then you must try to incorporate English speaking in your day to day life. The following ideas may help you enhance your English language speaking ability:

  • The first and foremost step of the TOEFL preparation is to incorporate English speaking in your daily life by speaking on academic or non-academic topics in front of the mirror. Pick up any picture, think about whatever comes to your mind by looking at the picture, and try to speak about it for one minute. Think of a story that you had heard or read recently, and tell that story to as many person as you can.
  • Involve yourself in group discussions. Ask the people in the group to discuss on any topic only in English. Present your ideas, and explain by giving strong reasons for your ideas.
  • Watch an episode of your favourite informational TV show, like national geographic or discovery. Note down certain important points from the half an hour show, and using the notes, try to present a summary of the show to a friend in one-minute.
  • Read academic and non-academic articles and explain the gist of the article in your own words.
  • Take sample TOEFL iBT tests online, and record your responses. Hear them after you have completed the tests, and ask your mentor or friend to listen to them to find out the mistakes you have made. Practice is the key my friend!

The candidates can do a lot of similar activities as mentioned above, and the results can be shocking, as these small activities can improve your English language speaking abilities a lot.


iBT TOEFL Reading

The universities around the world teach their students in English, and they expect their students to be able to read and understand the university level texts and passages.

The iBT TOEFL Reading section consists of 3-4 passages. Each passage is followed by 12-14 questions. The candidates are allowed 60-80 minutes of time to complete the reading section.

  • The passages or excerpts that are presented to the candidate in the TOEFL reading section are taken from university level text books. It is not necessary for the test takers to have prior knowledge on the topics used, since the soul motive of this section is to comprehend the candidate’s English language reading abilities.
  • Before the question appears on the computer screen, you are required to read the passage or scroll till the end. At least one general question will be asked related to the gist of the passage to make sure that you have truly read and understood the important information.
  • The questions will be asked in three formats. The first being multiple-choice questions with one correct answer. The second format is the multiple-choice questions with one correct answer that requires you to “insert a sentence” where it fits best in the passage. The third format is the “Reading to learn” type questions, in which you will be asked a multiple choice question that has more than one correct answer.
  • The summary questions are worth up to 2-points. The chart questions are carry 3-points each if there are five answer options, and 4-points each if there are seven answer options.

What does the iBT TOEFL Reading section measure in a candidate?

The iBT TOEFL Reading section tends to evaluate the following abilities of the test taker:

  • The ability to read texts and passages to extract the key information and important facts.
  • Reading fluency
  • Ability to develop conclusions from articles and passages.
  • Understanding the relationship between ideas, and their organization and purpose.
  • Ability to read and learn.

How to prepare for TOEFL Reading section? 

In order to ace good score in your TOEFL iBT reading section and enhance your English language reading abilities, you must incorporate a habit of reading regularly during your TOEFL preparation, no matter if it is academic or non-academic. You should start reading university level text books in different subject areas such as arts, sciences, social sciences, etc. Reading the academic text books will improve your reading skills. You can take help from internet, journals and magazines. The following tips can prove to be helpful in enhancing your reading skills and your TOEFL preparation:

  • Maintain a journal with new words to improve your TOEFL vocabulary and learn to understand their prefixes and suffixes.
  • Make yourself familiar with academic texts by looking for the main ideas and supporting details in them and the relationship between them.
  • Involve yourself with Your friends, family, teachers, etc. and carry out reading sessions to prepare for your TOEFL reading. For academic texts, you can take references from The Official Guide to TOEFL on the internet.
  • Follow as many academic articles, magazines, newspaper and some other sources on internet, and make a habit of practicing TOEFL speaking and TOEFL reading with their help.

iBT TOEFL Listening:

iBT TOEFL listening

As we have already mentioned, the universities expect their prospective students to understand university level spoken English, and have the ability to actively participate in lectures in the class and conversations inside and outside the class.

The following are the characteristics of the iBT TOEFL listening section:

  • In the iBT TOEFL listening section, the students are presented with some academic lecture and/or conversations and the questions related to the listening passages follows after each.
  • The students are allowed to take note while listening to the passages for help while answering the questions.
  • The candidates are mostly asked multiple-choice answer types question with one correct answer. The other types of questions that may be asked in this section are: multiple choice answer types question with more than one correct answer, arranging the order events or steps in sequence, matching texts to categories in a table.
  • The candidates should expect anywhere in between 4-6 lectures of 3-5 minutes’ length and 2-3 three minutes long conversations.
  • All the tasks used in the iBT TOEFL listening section are designed keeping the classroom kind of listening and speaking in mind. They judge the student’s ability to engage in lectures and conversation with their professors and friends in mind.

 What does the iBT TOEFL Listening section measure?

The iBT TOEFL Listening Section tends to judge the ability of the candidates in the following:

  • Listen to the lectures, passages and conversation and understand the main gist and important details.
  • Understand the speakers motive and attitude.
  • Listen and understand the organization of information, relationship between the information presented, and draw conclusions.

How to prepare for TOEFL Listening section?

In order to ace good scores in the iBT TOEFL Listening section, you must be very well familiar with the university level English language. As mentioned in all the above sections, practicing is the only key through which you can get acquainted with English. Let us look at some ways in which you can practice for your iBT TOEFL listening section and put your TOEFL preparation to good use:

  • The best way you can to better your English language listening skills is by reading a lot of articles to improve your vocabulary skills and get acquainted with university level academic texts.
  • Listening to the radio or watching entertaining programs and movies can aid in your English language listening and understanding. Listening to lectures, presentations, audio books, etc. from the internet or library will help you familiarize with academic English.
  • Start by listening to amateur level English programs, lectures presentations, and then gradually challenge yourself by increasing the difficulty level and length of the materials.
  • News channels and informative channels like National Geographic and Discovery re very helpful too. Listen to the articles and then try to explain the gist of the programs in your own words. This will help you in overall growth in English language.
  • While you listen to the programs, lectures, movies, etc. think about what the speaker wants to accomplish, try to extract the gist of the materials and form questions in your mind to answer them on your own.
  • While you listen to any material or program, try to note down the main ideas and important details, and find out the relationship between them.
  • Understanding the phrasal verbs and common idioms will help you with the iBT TOEFL Listening section.

iBT TOEFL Writing:

iBT TOEFL writing

The universities all around the world follow an academic setting, and they expect their prospective students to have basic knowledge to cope up with the teaching environment. It is very important for the students to have academic English writing skills to properly complete their higher education. Thus, the iBT TOEFL writing sections tends to analyse the test taker’s ability to write academic English and their ability to present themselves in an organized way with clarity.

The following are the characteristics of the iBT TOEFL writing section:

  • The iBT TOEFL Writing section will analyse the test taker’s ability to hear, read, take notes and organize the information before writing. It also analyses the candidate’s ability to summarize, extract main gist and relative information and the relationship between them.
  • In the iBT TOEFL writing section, the candidates must expect two tasks. One of the task will be an integrated writing task, and the other one will be an independent writing task. The candidates will be allotted 50 minutes to complete the iBT TOEFl writing section.
  • Out of the 50 minutes allotted to the candidates for the iBT TOEFL writing section, 20 minutes will be allowed for the integrated writing task, which will require them to hear to some passage/lecture or read a short academic text.
  • The candidates are given a reading passage, and they will be allowed 3 minutes to read it and take notes. For the short listening passages, the candidates are allowed two minutes of time, and they are allowed to take notes. Then, the candidates are required to write a prose of important points from the listening passage and explain their relation with the key points in the reading passage. It is recommended to write the response within 150-225 words.
  • In the independent writing task, the candidates are expected to write an essay or recommended length of 300 words. The candidates must provide sufficient information to support their opinions or choices.
  • The candidates’ responses for the iBT TOEFL writing section are sent to the TOEFL ETS Online Scoring Network, where two experts rate the integrated writing task, and one expert and a computer rates the independent writing task.
  • At first, the responses are rated on a scale of 0-5, which is further converted into a scale of o to 30.

How to prepare for TOEFL Writing section?

In order to advance towards the university level academic English writing or trying to ace good scores in the iBT TOEFL writing section, you must work towards improving your basic English writing skills. While your TOEFL preparation is on, try to better the following section of the English language writing: spelling, punctuation, grammar, sentence formation, paragraph formation, organization of one idea in an essay, verb tenses, etc. After you complete writing any particular article, read it three to four time for errors, and rectify them by understanding the pattern of errors you commonly make. You can do the following practices to improve you iBT TOEFL writing scores:

  • Since you are allowed only 30 minutes to complete the independent writing task, you need to practice planning, writing and revising an essay within 30 minutes. Search for the topics on internet or sample papers, and practice writing as many essays as you can.
  • The Official Guide to TOEFL can help you in your TOEFL preparation. You can avail it from the internet to collect some sample essays and make an outline of the essay by including the main gist of the essay and important information. Read articles and essays from newspapers or magazines which have been written by experts and understand the issue and the writing style.
  • Learn to paraphrase, as it is an important skill that you will require for completing your course. Read materials and articles from magazines, newspapers and write them down in your own words. Make sure that you don’t plagiarize. Practice paraphrasing words, phrases, sentences and entire paragraphs. Keep on increasing your TOEFL vocabulary.
  • Improve your TOEFL vocabulary by practicing the following: choose a random word, define the word and try to use them in sentences while writing essays.
  • Follow academic English text books, read a chapter, and then try to answer the questions related to the chapter. Read academic articles and listen to lectures and then do the same.
  • Practice listening to online lectures, and make notes of the important points in your own word. Remember to properly paraphrase, because the TOEFL will award you zero if you copy words from the reading or listening passage.

This brings us to the end of the information regarding the TOEFL preparation and all other TOEFL test tips.