TOEFL Techniques to maximize your score
Decide on a target score
Set a TOEFL goal score to guarantee you have the best potential chance of being admitted to the institutions you’re applying to. Any cumulative score that satisfies all of your schools’ minimum needed (or suggested) TOEFL scores is referred to as a target score.
By reaching or above this score, you improve your chances of being accepted to not just one, but all of your institutions. A goal score also offers you a specific figure to strive for during your TOEFL preparation, making it easier to plan up a study program that suits you.
Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Before you register for the TOEFL, give yourself plenty of time to study for the exam and improve your English abilities. In most cases, three to six months of study time should enough. However, specific time periods will vary based on your English proficiency and the amount of study time you have available.
If you’re already pretty fluent in English and only want to learn how to study for the TOEFL, you’ll probably need less time to prepare. In this scenario, it’s advisable to concentrate on understanding the TOEFL structure and testing yourself on a regular basis with high-quality practice questions.
If you don’t speak English well, you’ll need extra time to prepare for the TOEFL. Spend time doing activities like viewing English news and chatting with native English speakers to improve your general English abilities. Then start focusing on the TOEFL and the kind of English it assesses.
Whatever the situation may be, never think that just because you know English, you’ll receive a good grade. Finally, knowing English alone won’t get you a good TOEFL score; you’ll need to study carefully with high-quality materials and a well-thought-out study strategy.
Schedule a test date as soon as possible.
Your TOEFL scores will arrive at your institutions on time if you take the test early. Beginning 13 days following your exam, your TOEFL scores are automatically mailed to the institutions you specified at enrollment.
Your school’s location, on the other hand, will affect how long it takes for your results to arrive. Scores are normally received 20-30 days after the exam date by schools in the United States, and six to eight weeks after the test date by institutions outside the United States.
As a result, if you’re applying to US colleges, attempt to take the TOEFL no later than six weeks before the deadline. Take the TOEFL no later than ten weeks before your deadlines if you’re applying to colleges outside the United States.
Make Your Study Schedule Unique
Focus on what you don’t know rather than what you do know when studying for the TOEFL. You’ll spend more time honing your shortcomings and have a higher chance of doing well on all four TOEFL parts if you do it this way.
The following are some of the most prevalent forms of test taker weaknesses:
•Weaknesses in content: This implies you’re having trouble grasping particular concepts and subjects. If you have trouble with vocabulary and grammar, for example, practicing additional vocabulary terms and grammatical patterns could help you improve your TOEFL score.
•TOEFL format flaws: These flaws are related to the TOEFL’s structural aspects, namely question kinds. If you’re continually getting Reading to Learn questions wrong, for example, you’ll need to adjust your study schedule so that you practice certain question types more frequently than others.
•Strategy flaws: If you have a strategy flaw, it implies you’re experiencing difficulty with a certain technique or test-taking procedure. You could have trouble pacing yourself in the Reading portion, or you might not know how to take good notes in the Listening section.
•None of the four portions should lower your TOEFL score, so figure out what you’re having trouble with and study and practice until it’s no longer a problem.
Improve Your Vocabulary
You need a wide range of English vocabulary to do well on the TOEFL. Knowing various terms makes it easier to comprehend what you read and hear in English and provides you the skills to communicate more clearly and effectively in speech and writing.
Because the TOEFL is an academic exam, you’ll need a strong understanding of academic terminology. Review our comprehensive TOEFL vocabulary list to get started. Move on to additional vocabulary lists aimed at native English speakers, like our GRE vocabulary list (which includes printable flashcards!) once you’ve mastered these 300+ terms.
Finally, flashcards are the most effective approach to learn language. You have the option of making your own paper cards or using digital cards. Anki is a free computer software for making, downloading, and practicing flashcards. It employs spaced-repetition software (SRS) to display tough cards more frequently than others. I’ve used this application to study Japanese many times previously, and I highly recommend it!
Acquire the Skill of Recognizing Multiple-Answer Questions
Multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer appear in both the Listening and Reading sections. Depending on the topic, multiple-answer questions are worth 1-3 points, and they always inform you how many options you have to pick from.
Get Plenty of Rest and Eat Breakfast
In fact, test-day advice begins the night before the exam! You must first and foremost take care of yourself in order to achieve a decent TOEFL score. This implies you should obtain a full night’s sleep the night before the test, rather than pulling an all-nighter or studying for hours. What matters most is that you give your brain a break and don’t overwork yourself.
You should also consume a nutritious and full breakfast. Nerves can make you lose your appetite, but if you don’t eat at all, you’ll feel even worse. Because the TOEFL is around four hours long (with just one 10-minute break) and food and drinks are not permitted in the testing area, try to refuel yourself before taking the exam!
Go through all of the options for answers.
Take your time reading all of the answer options on multiple-choice Reading and Listening questions. Many test takers just scan the answer options or select the first one that appears to be correct. Both of these behaviors frequently lead to erroneous responses.
Because the TOEFL is a difficult test in which many answer options appear to be accurate but aren’t, always read all of the answer choices carefully before making a selection.
Take Notes Frequently and Effortlessly
You’ll be given scratch paper on test day to utilize for taking notes during the TOEFL. You won’t need to take notes on Reading, but you will for Listening, Speaking, and Writing.
Here are some of our best note-taking suggestions:
•Listening: Always jot down the major ideas, essential concepts and phrases, and who says what while you listen to the audio recordings. Make a note of any solutions or decisions you come up with.
•Speaking: Take notes while you read the texts and listen to the audio clips on the Integrated assignments. Briefly describe the two or three key topics you’ll address in your response for each Speaking challenge.
•Writing: Take notes while listening to the audio clip for the Integrated Writing exercise. Spend the first few minutes of both Writing exercises organizing your thoughts so you have a general concept of how to structure your paragraphs, important arguments, and examples.
Above all, be cool when taking the test. The TOEFL is a long and difficult exam, particularly for first-timers, so you’ll need to discover strategies to stay calm and focused.
If you’re worried on exam day, locate a quiet location to relax and take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that all you have to do is give it your all. And, if you absolutely need to, you can always retake the test if you don’t obtain the score you desire.
Try to be as attentive as possible when taking the TOEFL. Allowing your anxieties to get the best of you might cause you to lose focus or make thoughtless blunders. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed at any time, take a 10-second break to stretch, breathe, and clear your mind.
Respond to each and every question
There are no consequences for incorrect answers on the TOEFL, unlike the SAT, ACT, and GRE. To put it another way, you will not lose any points if you answer a question poorly (or not at all). As a result, you should always answer every question in a section to guarantee that you have the highest chance of receiving the desired score.
Every multiple-choice question includes four response options in the Reading and Listening sections. So, if you picked one at random, you’d have a 25% chance of being correct.
If a question is difficult, skip it and come back to it later.
If you come across a Reading question that you don’t understand, don’t waste time thinking about it; simply skip it and go on. Moving on to the next difficult question allows you to pace yourself better and avoids you from spending too much time on a single topic.
Return to the difficult question once you’ve completed the section and try to rewrite it. If you’re still stumped or out of time, employ the process of elimination (see #12) to make an informed guess. Remember that incorrect responses don’t count against you, so guessing is always preferable than leaving a question blank!
Listen to English Podcasts
Listening to English podcasts is another approach to improve your listening abilities. Podcasts allow you to hear native English speakers speak. They’re particularly useful since they don’t utilize movies or transcripts to teach you, so you have to depend solely on your listening abilities to comprehend what’s being said.
Pay Close Attention to Audio Clips That Have Been Replayed
Before you answer a question on Listening, a brief clip from a lecture or conversation you listened to will be repeated. Always pay great attention to the repeated tape in these situations. This is because the tape will almost certainly provide the solution to the next question.
Speak with People Who Are Native English Speakers
Going out and chatting with native English speakers is by far the greatest method to improve your English-speaking abilities. (A native English speaker is someone who speaks English as their first language, regardless of where they were born and raised.)
If you don’t know anyone who speaks native English, check for language groups on Meetup or other social media sites. Most Meetup groups are free to join and provide an enjoyable opportunity for interaction and language practice. If there are none in your region, you can start your own English-language chat club.
Work on your pronounciation
Being comprehensible, or being able to be understood, is a significant element of the Speaking section. This implies that when speaking English, you must constantly utilize clear pronunciation.
But keep in mind that having an accent will not detract from your score. The reality is that most nonnative English speakers have some sort of accent, which is completely acceptable! However, being asked to repeat oneself or being misinterpreted when using specific English terms is not acceptable.
Hear some examples of high-scoring responses
Don’t know what to say in response to a TOEFL Speaking prompt? Then listen to a few examples of high-scoring replies.
Through its YouTube video series “Inside the TOEFL Test,” ETS provides a few samples of good Speaking replies. Each of the three films below covers each of the six types of Speaking assignments and includes a real-life response to a TOEFL Speaking question.
Use a Natural Pace and Enunciate
You’ll record your answers into a microphone linked to a computer during the TOEFL, so be sure you’re speaking clearly enough for the raters to understand you. This means you’ll need to utilize natural intonations and accurate pronunciation (remember, having an accent is OK as long as native speakers can comprehend what you’re saying!).
Speaking clearly also entails speaking at a relaxed pace. Your words and phrases may likely flow together if you speak too quickly, making it difficult to grasp your replies. This is why it’s important to pronounce your words and talk at the same pace as you would in normal conversation.
Talk the Whole Time
You’ll have 45 seconds to talk on TOEFL Speaking tasks 1 and 2 (the Independent tasks) and 60 seconds to speak on TOEFL Speaking tasks 3–6. (the Integrated tasks).
These time limitations, however, are not merely maximums. In actuality, you’ll have to talk for the full allotted time. You’ll probably lose points if you don’t use all of the time you’ve been allocated to talk. As a result, you’ll need to practice answering TOEFL Speaking prompts so that you can talk for 45 and 60 seconds accurately.