Howdy friends! Have you been enjoying this mini-series? We have learned some awesome tips to crack the SAT, the ACT, the GRE, the GMAT, and the LSAT! Isn’t it all great? But wait, there is more to come. For students from non-English-speaking countries, there are English tests as well. So let’s dive into the first of these tests – the TOEFL!
- TOEFL tests all four dimensions of English – reading, listening, speaking, writing. To prepare well for all, you need a study plan.
- Immerse yourself in English. Use it – all four dimensions of it – in your everyday life. The more you can do so, the easier the TOEFL preparation will look.
- Identify your weak areas and practice those exclusively. Most students struggle more in speaking and writing, than in reading and listening. So prepare accordingly.
- TOEFL is a 4-hour long test and can be exhausting. You must be familiar with what actually happens on the test day, so simulate that experience with full-length tests.
- Reading topics are spread across a wide spectrum – science, social science, business, arts, geography, history, economics, and others. So, to practice, explore a variety of academic articles and publications on the internet to develop well-rounded reading habits.
- As you read through different topics, learn basic vocabulary associated with each. Memorize new words and learn to guess the meaning from context.
- If you understand the structure of the passage, you will be able to answer most questions quickly. So do take notes as you read.
- Practice the frequently-asked question types – finding the purpose of the passage, and making general inferences and conclusions.
- TOEFL doesn’t require high reading speed; so relax. A well-practiced test-taking style will help you more than fast reading speed.
- TOEFL Listening conversations can be tough if you are not familiar with the US accent. So make sure you listen to American news and TV shows frequently.
- Even when you are familiar with the accent, do not focus on it as you listen. Focus more on the content as that is where the questions will come from.
- Most conversations are taken from academic settings and do not require any specific knowledge. So long as you listen well, you are good!
- As you listen, note down important words/ideas, so you have a ready record of the conversation, in case you need.
- Some conversations are academic lectures. In these, listen to signal words – introduction, major steps, examples, conclusions, etc.
- The listening pieces are fixed in duration, and not counted in your allotted time. So sit back and focus on listening.
- Know the critical factors in TOEFL Speaking – fluency, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and organization. Note that you DO NOT have to speak in the US accent! Speak as you normally do, but speak well.
- Speaking topics require quick thinking and organization, and only practice will help you.
- If you are not a good English-speaker already, the best way to improve is to start thinking in English to avoid translation process.
- Record your practice sessions and listen to them for self-evaluation. Also get feedback from others.
- Get into the habit of orally summarizing everything that you read or hear. This will subconsciously prepare you for the test.
- If you are not relaxed while speaking, it may be interpreted as lack of fluency. So relax!
- TOEFL Writing requires you to type out your response. The better your speed, the more you can focus on the actual writing.
- Have a well-developed structure for your essay. Use a wide range of appropriate vocabulary and grammatical structures.
- Learn to use linking verbs to connect ideas and passages. Some commonly used phrases are – furthermore, in addition, for example, for instance, on the other hand, to sum up, etc.
- Do not stuff your writing with heavy vocabulary or grammar. If it doesn’t seem natural in the essay, it will do more harm than good.
- First type out your response in a structured fashion, then edit it to correct errors, and finally do a proofread. Needless to say, this requires good time management.
As we always say, these tips are powerful, but not so if they are not consciously developed. Although considered a simpler test, TOEFL requires practice if you want to get your best score. So, once again, burn that midnight oil!
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