TOEFL Preparation tips and strategies

TOEFL Preparation tips and strategies


TOEFL or the 'Test of English as a Foreign Language' is one of the most standardized tests as it is the basic requirement to get admission in the United States-based universities or institutions of higher education. Ensures your entry. The test is so designed as it measures a non-English-speaking person's knowledge and proficiency in English. The evaluation is based on speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills.

The following tips and strategies will help you get through TOEFL with the required high score:

Command Over English is a Must:

It is essential to keep in mind that the purpose of TOEFL is different from other ESL tests. TOEFL facilitates your entry into an American college or university. There are other English-speaking countries that require TOEFL scores for admission. Your admission to an America-based university depends on your proficiency in English.

You don't have to be an expert in a particular subject for cracking this exam. All you need to do is to master English with a focus on increased vocabulary, excellent listening skills, and impeccable writing style. You can achieve this by virtue of consistent hard work and disciplined preparation.

Make English your cup of tea by making yourself able to read, speak, and write flawlessly. Once you achieve the goal of excellent command over English as a language, the goal of cracking TOEFL becomes a lot easier for you.

You must develop the habit of reading lots of books, especially the ones dealing with academics as your primary purpose is to make it to an American university. Reading a standard newspaper daily and going through a good magazine will help you a lot in the improvement of your command over English.

Watching English movies and English channels on T.V will also be of great help in fetching you the desired score in the test. Watch as many Hollywood movies as you can. You can start by picking a movie and watch it again and again till you are able to grasp the dialogues and situations thoroughly. This way you can make yourself comfortable with the American accent and speaking nuances.

You should talk in English with your friends, especially those who are good at spoken English. If you befriend an American guy, it will provide a further fillip to your objective of enhancing your command over the language.

There are so many online sites that cater to the requirements of the students seeking to qualify TOEFL. You can check the level of your improvement by taking as many online tests as you can to achieve the increased mastery of English.

Learn English Grammar:

If your objective is to crack TOEFL with a required high score, you must have a good grasp of English grammar. Unless your understanding of the English language is comprehensive, you cannot get through this difficult language-based test. Grammar can't be mastered in a day, and the best way is to start learning grammar step by step until you have complete control over the usage of different rules of grammar.

It is ideal to start with the basics of grammar like parts of speech as nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, etc. Start reading proper grammar from the very day when you decide on appearing in the test though it can't be denied that learning grammar is a long process that takes years for one to master. Those who have been in the habit of studying grammar since their school days have a higher chance of scoring high in this test.

However, better late than never. With hard work and committed studies, you can improve your grammar. You must start solving grammar exercises as much as you can as that will help you a great deal. Learning a language becomes quite easy if you focus on its grammar.

Build Your Vocabulary:

You must have sound vocabulary if you aim to crack TOEFL with a very high score. As TOEFL is a requirement for higher education in an American university, you are supposed to understand everything from what is given to you for reading, speaking to writing. Unless you know the proper meaning of a word, you won't be able to answer the questions in the speaking and writing sections of the test.

For enriching your vocabulary, you must cultivate the habit of reading a lot. You must be particularly attentive towards the difficult words on the page. Pay particular attention to the words which are new to you.

Look up the meanings of such words in the dictionary and write them in a notebook earmarked especially for enlisting the words which you have just learned. This way you can improve your vocabulary which will help you score high on the test.

Take Practice Tests Regularly:

You must go in for some high-quality TOEFL practice book to evaluate yourself. There are a number of sites offering online practice tests that can be of great help. If you are able to score well in these tests, you have the chance of scoring well in TOEFL too. While attempting these practice tests, you must keep in mind the following points:

Practice and solve each section of the test so that you get an idea of how each section works. Take as many tests as possible of reading, listening, speaking, and writing practice tests which will acquaint you with the overall pattern of the test.

You must understand carefully what each section demands. Initially, you must take as much time as you require to solve the tests without hurrying through them.

Make it a point to focus more on the sections which you find difficult or intricate.

Pay more attention to the kind of questions that have been asked in previous tests. Be particularly attentive towards what sort of essays and topics have recurred in the test.

Reading Tips:

One of the requirements of the TOEFL is the impressive reading skills of the test taker. You must focus on improving your reading ability by going through as many English texts as you can. It will not only help you enrich your vocabulary, but it will also help you understand how you need to structure your arguments.

While reading a passage or a text, make sure that catch the main points ingrained in it. You must also pay attention to how the writer uses transitions and organizational patterns to make the topic engaging and effective.

You should make a proper strategy to improve your reading skills which will further help you understand the main idea.

You must begin by reading the entire passage twice or thrice.

Read the questions and answer them keeping intact the theme or main idea of the passage.

Skip difficult questions and return to them later on after you have answered all other questions.

Use the process of elimination for solving multiple-choice questions. By eliminating the wrong answers, you will come closer to the right answer. Once you have eliminated the wrong options, you must focus on the remaining options by keeping your mind focused on the major points discussed in the passage.

How to Speak in English?

It is your comfort level with English that is going to decide how you will fare in the test. You must improve your spoken English and writing style. You must be confident enough to speak on any topic for about 5 to 6 minutes, and your writing skills should also be of the best possible quality.

Make it your habit to speak English as much as you can without worrying about the mistakes you make. No doubt you have to avoid making mistakes but to achieve the desired fluency, you must start with speaking a lot.

Start with short sentences with basic words. Reading aloud will help you pronounce words correctly without fumbling unnecessarily.

Improve your Pronunciation:

The speaking section requires you to speak on a given topic, and if your pronunciation of the words is not clear, it will have an adverse effect on your score. Your pronunciation doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to be comprehensible so that the examiner evaluating your speaking prowess can understand what you have spoken on the topic assigned to you.

You can improve your pronunciation and speaking skills by practicing to speak. A teacher or native English-speaking friend can help you overcome your weakness in this department. If you are all alone, the best way to improve pronunciation is by recording your voice and listening to it. That way you will come to know where you need to work more to have the desired results.

Laptops, computers, and smartphones have recorders installed in them, and you can make use of these devices to record your voice. You can thus evaluate yourself and get the added benefit of being used to listening and speaking through headphones.

A better way to hone your speaking skills is to practice speaking English to native English speakers as they are the ones whose first language is English and they can not only point out your mistakes but also help you with your pronunciation of words.

If there is no one with whom you can converse, you should go in for some English speaking course or classes where you get a chance to interact with people during group discussions.

How to Write Effectively

In addition to reading and reading, you must include writing English in your day-to-day routine. You should start by writing short paragraphs of 9 to 10 lines. In the beginning, there will be lots of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. You should not worry about the mistakes you make as your improvement begins on the day when you start writing.

Reading will also help you develop your writing skills, and you will come to know how you have to connect thoughts and ideas without disturbing the main argument of the paragraph which you have undertaken to write.

Always begin by making an outline of the topic you are going to write on. Carefully choose the words which you are going to use. Make grammatically correct and meaningful sentences out of the selected words.

Develop the Habit of Taking Notes:

If you develop the habit of taking down notes, it will help you greatly while attempting the listening, speaking, and writing sections of the test. You must be able to concise a long statement in a short sentence. Note making is an art, and it helps in capturing the crux of the matter.

During the test also, your note-making skills can fetch you a very high score if you are really good at it. While you are going through a listening skills test, you are made to listen to an audio clip only once. You are not given another chance to listen to the clip if you have missed something important.

Similarly, in the speaking and writing sections, you have to speak and write after you have heard a conversation or some exchange of dialogues. It is in such cases that note-making helps a lot. If you can take down important points when the audio is being played, you can make use of these points to display your comprehension and understanding of the subject. Those who are good at note-making get a higher score in TOEFL.

How to Write an Essay Effectively?

The last section of the TOEFL requires you to write on some topics. An essential component of this section is to write or type an essay in 300 words in about 30 minutes.

You must learn how to write an impressive essay. Essay writing is a mix of a number of components such as general knowledge, writing skills, proper grammar, sound vocabulary, use of sentence structures, and carrying a thought process forward.

An essay consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. The purpose of the introduction is to introduce the topic to the readers. It has to set the tone of the essay and should be informative enough to make the reader aware of what to expect in the rest of the essay.

The body is the middle part of the essay where you have to analyze the main idea threadbare by means of the skillful use of language and logic.

The conclusion is the last part written is in the form of a passage containing the summary of the essay. The essay should be written in a lucid, clear, and simple style without losing focus on the main thought or argument.

However, this is merely a general idea about the essay. You need to practice writing essays a lot and consult some quality books on essay writing. It will give you an insight into how you can go about essay writing.

Install a Language Learning App on your Smartphone:

Language learning is an ongoing process, and the easiest way to master English is by making it an indispensable part of your life. You should install a language learning app on your mobile or a language learning software or application on your laptop.

A good app will provide you a number of exercises to practice which will help you enormously in the long run. Similarly, there are a number of language learning soft wares in the market. You should choose one of good quality and have it installed on your PC or laptop.

Attempting all its exercises on a day-to-day basis will help you remove your weakness over a period of time. Here it must be kept in mind that language can't be learned or mastered in a couple of months. It requires years of hard work and commitment towards regular learning.

Join a Spoken English Academy:

Joining a spoken English academy can also help you improve your understanding and comfort level with English. You will have to spend some money on it but spoken English classes will provide you the kind of environment which you need to get through the TOEFL. If there is no one around you with whom you can converse in English, you can join the spoken English classes where you will get an opportunity to speak a lot.

There are group discussions on a given topic in addition to the focus on grammar, pronunciation, and fluent speaking. Yes! You must keep it in mind that the academy you join must be a reputed and established one. You must get it confirmed from reliable sources that the academy you are going to join is worth spending money on.

Watch News Channels and Read Newspapers:

Reading a standard newspaper on a regular basis and watching news channels regularly will help you a lot in overcoming your weaknesses. Not only will it improve your vocabulary but it will also help you learn advanced English grammar. It will also help you with your pronunciation and improve your comprehension of interactive and functional English. You'd better watch talk shows such as 'Hard Talk' on BBC to have a better listening comprehension.

Overcome your Mistakes:

While you go through the process of preparation for the TOEFL, you will certainly come to know about your mistakes. You should pay particular attention to all the mistakes you have made and start working towards rectifying them. Whether it is the pronunciation of some words or some grammatical errors, you have to practice a lot not to make any such mistakes during the test.

Immerse yourself in English:

Once you know that you have to qualify for TOEFL at any rate, the ideal way for you is to immerse yourself in English. You should go in for active as well as passive learning of English. Active learning means you are consciously preparing for an exam by learning grammar, attempting exercises, reading books, etc. Passive learning stands for learning a language by making it part and parcel of your life. For instance, watching your favorite English movie again and again. This way of learning English will surely help you secure high marks in the TOEFL.

Personalize Your Study Plan:

When you are preparing for the TOEFL, you must keep in mind your weaknesses. Make sure that you have to focus more on what you do not know rather than what you already know. Learning and preparing the same thing, again and again, will adversely affect your score.

If you are weak on specific concepts or topics, you have to concentrate more on that area. For instance, if your vocabulary is poor and your understanding of grammar is not up to the mark, you must focus more on these areas which will surely help you increase your score.

You must make a strategy to crack the test easily. You must be in a position to understand how much time you have to spend on each of the test sections. You must be capable of solving questions fast with a quick and appropriate understanding of the given texts. Here regular studies and preparation of the test will come to your aid.

Final Word of Advice:

Given the high difficulty level of TOEFL, one must be well prepared before appearing in it. It is worth mentioning that TOEFL does not require any knowledge of any specific subject. It is the test of proficiency in English which does not come naturally to a non-native English speaking person. Command over English is to be acquired after years of consistent hard work and regular studies.

It is advisable to attempt previously asked questions so that you get attuned to the difficulty level of the test. Usually, people avoid taking notes which adversely affects one's performance in the test. Make use of the sheets to take down notes even during the test. Work upon your confidence level so that you do not get nervous when the test is going on. Speak confidently without fumbling for words.

Make yourself comfortable with an American accent and speech by watching English movies, English news channels, and by interacting with native Americans. Adapt yourself to the conditions of the test so that nothing comes as a surprise to you when you are taking the test.

The format and pattern of the test must be clear to you, and you should know beforehand what to expect in the test. You should target a very high score which will ensure your admission to the educational institution of your choice.

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