Table of Contents
- What is the TOEFL exam?
- What is a good TOEFL score?
- Know the format of TOEFL
- How to prepare for TOEFL?
- A 4-week-long study plan to prepare for TOEFL at home effectively
- Alternative 2-week-long study plan to prepare for TOEFL
- Unwind before the exam
- What’s next?
Preparing for international English proficiency tests can be a daunting task for most non-native English speakers. But if you wish to study abroad or acquire a work permit in an English-speaking country, passing exams like the IELTS and TOEFL are compulsory. If you wish to know how to prepare for TOEFL in a way that guarantees a high score, then you have come to the right place.
Let’s take a look at the 5 most important things to know about the TOEFL exam, which can help you in your preparation. But before getting into all the details, you need to have a firm understanding of what the TOEFL exam is and who conducts it.
What is the TOEFL exam?
TOEFL or Test Of English as a Foreign language is one of the most widely accepted international proficiency tests. It is recognized by all the Ivy League colleges across the world as well as all other colleges and universities in English-speaking countries. This exam is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which is an international non-profit organization. The ETS designs question papers for the TOEFL and even administers the TOEFL exams.
If you want to know how to prepare for TOEFL at home, then you should begin by understanding that there are 2 types of TOEFL exams – the TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL Essentials™.
The TOEFL iBT is a premium exam that tests your proficiency in academic English communication and can be taken either at home (online) or at any of the registered TOEFL exam centers worldwide (on paper).
The TOEFL scoring system grades candidates with marks starting from 0 to 120. A good TOEFL score is usually one that is above 100 marks. Given below is a chart using which you can check how good your TOEFL scores are. This will give you an idea of your level of competency in English as a foreign language.
|110-117||Very Good User|
|0-31||Extremely limited User|
Most Ivy League colleges require a minimum TOEFL score of 100 (Good user), while many more colleges and universities also consider scores above 90 (Competent User).
Students aiming to secure admission into the Ivy League colleges often ask the question – “How long does it take to prepare for TOEFL?”. If you wish to secure above 100 marks in this exam, then you can devote 10 full days to preparing. However, it also depends on how many hours a day you are willing to spend on TOEFL preparation.
If you plan on spending at least 4 to 5 hours per day and have a decent command of English, 10 days should be ample time for you to acquaint yourself with the question pattern and strengthen your basics.
Know the format of TOEFL
The first step to effective TOEFL preparation is to know the question format. As mentioned earlier, there are two types of TOEFL exams and each of them has a different format as well as a time limit.
The TOEFL iBT (or internet-based test) has 4 sections that you must attempt online.
- The ‘Reading Section’ has 36 to 56 questions for which you are given a time limit of 60 to 80 minutes.
- Aspirants who don’t know how to prepare for the TOEFL exam often face difficulty with the ‘Listening Section’. This section consists of 34 to 51 questions and you will get about 60 to 90 minutes to answer these.
- After these two sections, you get a short break of 10 minutes. Following this, the timer of the remaining 2 sections begins. Hence, you will have to pay close attention to the timer clock.
- The ‘Speaking Section’ has 6 specific tasks that test your skills in verbal English communication. For this section, you get a time limit of 20 minutes.
- Finally, the ‘Writing Section’ contains 2 essay-type questions that you need to answer within a time limit of 50 minutes.
On the other hand, the paper-based format of the TOEFL exam has the following pattern of questions.
- The ‘Listening Section’ consists of 50 questions which you need to answer within 30 to 40 minutes.
- The ‘Writing Section’ has 40 questions that you need to answer in just 25 minutes. If you don’t know how to prepare for TOEFL effectively, this section can be quite the challenge.
- The ‘Reading Section’ comprises 50 questions for which you get only 55 minutes to answer. Hence, this section is also considered one of the toughest parts of the TOEFL exam.
- Finally, the ‘TWE Test’ consists of just 1 essay-type question which you can take up to 30 minutes to answer.
How to prepare for TOEFL?
Once you are familiar with the question pattern of the TOEFL exam, you must start to draft a study plan that enables you to take up each section of the exam paper separately. Practicing and developing English speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills can be quite challenging for many. Hence, it is best to navigate your preparation based on a proper study plan.
A 4-week-long study plan to prepare for TOEFL at home effectively
According to the level of expertise you possess, given below are two study plans you can consider –
Week 1 – Mock Test + Weakest Section (Theory+Practice)
- For the first week, assess and analyze all the sections of the TOEFL and then make a study plan that suits you the best.
- Find out sample question paper sets and mock tests from various websites and attempt some of them.
- Attempting the questions beforehand will help you identify the strong and weak areas.
- This, in turn, will help you to focus less on those areas that you’re already strong in and focus more on areas that you’re weak.
Week 2 – Mock Test + Next Section (Theory+Practice) + Full-length exam
- In the second week, advance to the Listening Section.
- Find audios from the British Council website and other websites and then try to attempt the practice questions that come with it.
- Along with practicing the Listening Section, don’t forget to attempt mock tests at full length to identify the variety of questions that can come in the exam.
Week 3 – Mock Test + Next Two Sections (Theory+Practice)
- In the third week, advance to the Reading Section.
- Attempt as many questions as possible under this section. This will not only help you increase your reading speed but will also enhance your comprehension skills.
- After completing this section, advance to the Writing Section, where you have to practice a variety of essays that will help you sail smoothly through the actual writing process in the exam.
Week 4 – Mock test + Last section (Theory+Practice) + Full-length exam
- The section that you want to advance to in the fourth week depends on whether you have taken the TOEFL iBT or the TOEFL Essentials™.
- If you have taken the TOEFL iBT, then you have to prepare for the Speaking Test. If you have taken the TOEFL Essentials™, then you have to prepare for the TWE Test.
- Both of these sections need different preparation strategies.
- Last but not least, don’t forget to attempt the mock tests to be more prepared and confident for the actual examination.
- Constantly monitor your scores and see where your English Competency stands. Improvise your study plan according to the scores you get.
Alternative 2-week-long study plan to prepare for TOEFL
- For the first day of the first week, it is recommended that you begin by attempting a preliminary practice test.
- There are many online tools (some of which are free-to-use) available that can provide you with the perfect simulation of a real TOEFL exam.
- When you finish this practice test, the schools will tell you exactly where you stand with your English language competency.
- This is important because in the following days you will need to work upon the areas of improvement that this practice test has identified.
- For the rest of the first week, you should focus on developing your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills by referring to online lessons or even physical textbooks.
- Just like your first week of TOEFL preparation, the second week should also start with the practice test. In this test, you will have to apply all that you have learned throughout the week.
- Once again there are many software and online portals that can provide you with such mock tests and even guide you on how to prepare for TOEFL.
- After the 2nd practice test, you will have now understood your progress in the first week. If your score is anywhere between 60 to 90 in this practice test, you may require about 4 to 5 days more of studying.
- However, if your score in the second practice test is anywhere between 90 and 120, then you may only require 2 more days of preparation.
Unwind before the exam
Since preparing for the TOEFL exams over 2 weeks can indeed be a tedious task, you should take out a day before the exam to relax. On this day, you must engage in a hobby or two so that your mind is relaxed and all set for the exam the next day. Avoid doing last-minute preparation as most of us know efforts in haste are often wasted.
With good scores in the TOEFL exam, you can unlock the doors to higher education and employment in like the UK, the USA, Canadian, and Australia. Apart from these countries, there are a handful of European countries as well that accept the test results of TOEFL and IELTS as a measure of proficiency in academic English communication.
However, even if you are inclined to go abroad for higher education, a good score on TOEFL and IELTS exams can also qualify you for admission into some of the most esteemed universities in your home country as well.
That’s all for now! If you have any more questions about which program to choose, you can drop a comment below on reach out to us.
Liked this blog? Read: Universities offering a TOEFL waiver | US, UK, Canada, and more!
Q1. How can I prepare for TOEFL in 7 days?
Answer – It all depends on your existing level of English proficiency. If you are extremely fluent in written and spoken English as well as have keen skills in reading and active listening, then preparing for TOEFL in 7 days should be a cakewalk for you. However, if you are a non-native English language speaker with little to no proficiency, then you will have to work extremely hard to prepare for TOEFL in just 7 days.
Q2. How to prepare for TOEFL speaking?
Answer – The ‘Speaking section’ is one that most candidates find challenging. This is because of a lack of practical experience in speaking English. Hence, to best prepare for this section, you should be conversing in English daily. At the same time, you should consciously identify your errors and correct them to improve your speaking skills.
Q3. How to prepare for TOEFL iBT?
Answer – The TOEFL iBT is an internet-based test that can be given from any location. Since there is no invigilation for this online exam, the time limit is quite stringent. Hence you have to keep practicing mock tests with a timer to excel at the TOEFL iBT exam.