Prepare for TOEFL

TOEFL

First of all, TOEFL is completely a language test. Those who are academically brilliant, are not always supposed to do well in TOEFL. It’s not just about study or memorization. It’s about competency on a language which might be attained by learning and practice simultaneously in day to day life. It’s not possible to be gained instantly, rather it requires time and application in real life.

Full meaning of TOEFL is Test of English as Foreign Language. Like the GRE, Education Testing Service (ETS) also arranges and controls TOEFL. For North American Universities, this test is required for students whose native language is other than English. Although it’s said that if the medium of study in English, this test requirement is waived, but almost all the international students are seen taking this test whatever their medium of education is. IELTS is an alternative of TOEFL. Although it’s a requirement for North American universities, majority of the universities throughout the world accepts TOEFL.

Structure, Time and Marks Distribution

Like the GRE, TOEFL is of two types- Internet Based (iBT) and Paper Based (PBT). As for its worldwide popularity and acceptancy our focus is the Internet (Computer) Base TOEFL (iBT). The test is divided into four sections- Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. It’s scored in a scale of 0-120. Each section is scored in scale of 0-30. But unlike the GRE, the number of questions and mark per question is not fixed and although varies the total score per section is fixed. Especially these vary in Reading and Listening sections.

Reading

The Reading section measures your ability to understand academic passages written in English. The Reading section consists of questions on 3-5 passages, each approximately 700 words in length and you will get approximately 20 minutes for each passage. The passages are on academic topics; they are the kind of material that might be found in an undergraduate university textbook. Passages require understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas. Some questions require filling out tables or completing summaries. Prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer.

Listening

The Listening section measures your ability to understand conversations and lectures in English. The Listening section consists of questions on six passages, each 3–5 minutes in length. These passages include two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. The conversations involve a student and either a professor or a campus service provider. The lectures are a self-contained portion of an academic lecture, which may involve student participation and does not assume specialized background knowledge in the subject area. Each conversation and lecture passage is heard only once. Test-takers may take notes while they listen and they may refer to their notes when they answer the questions. Each conversation is associated with five questions and each lecture with six. The questions are meant to measure the ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, relationships between ideas, organization of information, speaker purpose and speaker attitude. Answer the questions based on what is stated or implied by the speakers. Most questions are worth one point. If a question is worth more than one point, it will have special directions that indicate how many points you can receive.

Speaking

The Speaking section in the test combines both reading and listening tasks and measures your ability to speak about a variety of topics. The Speaking section consists of six tasks: two independent and four integrated. In the two independent tasks, test-takers answer opinion questions on familiar topics. They are evaluated on their ability to speak spontaneously and convey their ideas clearly and coherently. In two of the integrated tasks, test-takers read a short passage, listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and answer a question by combining appropriate information from the text and the talk. In the two remaining integrated tasks, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to a question about what they heard. In the integrated tasks, test-takers are evaluated on their ability to appropriately synthesize and effectively convey information from the reading and listening material. Test-takers may take notes as they read and listen and may use their notes to help prepare their responses. Test-takers are given a short preparation time before they have to begin speaking. The responses are digitally recorded, sent to ETS’s Online Scoring Network (OSN), and evaluated by three to six raters.

Writing

The Writing section measures a test taker’s ability to write in an academic setting and consists of two tasks: one integrated and one independent. In the integrated task, test-takers read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker discuss it. The test-taker then writes a summary about the important points in the listening passage and explains how these relate to the key points of the reading passage. In the independent task, you will demonstrate your ability to write an essay in response to a question that asks you to express and support your opinion about a topic or issue. The test-taker must write an essay that states their opinion or choice, and then explain it, rather than simply listing personal preferences or choices. Your essay would be scored on the quality of your writing. This includes the development of your ideas, the organization of your essay, and the quality and accuracy of the language you use to express your ideas. Responses are sent to the ETS OSN and evaluated by at least 3 different raters.

The structure of TOEFL is shown below in tabular format-

Section Description of Question Time Total Marks
Reading 3-5 Passages, 12-14 Questions per Passage 60-80 Minutes 30
Listening 6 Passages*, 5-6 Questions per Passage 60-90 Minutes 30
Break Mandatory 10 Minutes x
Speaking 6 Tasks 20 Minutes 30
Writing 2 Tasks 50 Minutes 30

*You will listen a conversation or lecture in each passage.

To know more about TOEFL structure or anything please visit- https://www.ets.org/toefl/.

Best Time to Take TOEFL

if you take the GRE, then it’s best to take TOEFL immediately after the GRE. this is because preparation for TOEFL mostly accomplished by preparation for GRE. however, keep a gap of at least two weeks between GRE and TOEFL test in order to practise. but if you do not take the GRE and want to take TOEFL only, then try to take it within December as the deadlinine for applications start from December.

Registration

The registration process is same as that of GRE. It’s important to register earlier because all test centers are not well equipped or best serving, the best ones are booked earlier and during peak season (August – December) the seats are filled very quickly. So keep track of dates and centers available otherwise you might miss the expected date. For TOEFL, the centers are mostly significant for speaking section. While the speaking section, there will be much noise as everybody starts speaking at a time and one can hardly concentrate at this chaos. So, find a center where every test taker is separated from each other by a physical barrier. Those centers having the ‘Prometric’ title are the best.

The registration fee for TOEFL iBT varies from country to country ranging from 160-300 USD. Normally it’s around 170 USD for developing countries. You can change the date and time up to four days before the test date if available with a fee of 60 USD. You can send your TOEFL score up to four universities for free but you have to mention the university names 24 hour before your test date. You can do it by clicking the order number of your TOEFL registration account. You can send your score anytime with a fee of 20 USD per recipient.

You have to pay all these fees using an international debit/credit/visa/master card. Some local bank offers virtual credit/debit card for students those who don’t possess an international card. To get all the information and register please visit- https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/register.

It’s better to have a passport while registering although it’s not a requirement. This is safe because you have to put the same name in your registration form as your passport. If the two name differs, you will not be eligible for taking the test and your fee will be forfeited.

Preparation

Most of the test takers taking the GRE test, take the TOEFL without any major preparation. And as a language test your performance reflected on how you practiced it in your daily life. It’s not as hard as GRE in terms of unknown words, you don’t need to memorize a bunch of words. Standard vocabulary is enough for TOEFL. But you must have to put emphasize on speaking preparation as most of the test takers struggle with speaking score. You have to score a minimum of 24 in speaking section for most of the universities to get funding as a Teaching Assistant (TA). To secure a good score in speaking section, try to build the habit of speaking in a crowded place. For reading and writing preparation, try to read articles and write reviews. For listening section, watch and listen news and documentaries. For everything seek someone with competency in English to supervise. Here are some resources to prepare well-

  1. https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/
  2. https://www.edx.org/course/toeflr-test-preparation-insiders-guide-etsx-toeflx-1
  3. https://www.notefull.com/ [This videos are specially helpful for speaking section]
  4. http://toefl.kmf.com/ [This site is in Chinese language having most of the resources of TOEFL. Take help of ‘Google Translate’]
  5. TPO Software [This is free, collect it. There are lots of practice sets here]
  6. Through apps. Search for ‘TOEFL Practice’
  7. Official Guide Practice Sets [Available with Official Guide]

Necessary Books

Actually there’s no extra ordinary list of books for TOEFL preparation, although there are a lots of books available in the market. Actually online resources are so plenty and easy to get, people are less attractive to books now a days. I’m suggesting just one book for TOEFL- ‘Official Guide for TOEFL’ by ETS. If you don’t want to buy this book at least collect four practice sets offered with this books. This practice sets are very helpful and equivalent to POWERPREP of GRE. you can also predict your final score from this practice sets and take necessary steps for improvement. However, your writing and speaking responses will not be scored but you record them and review ypurself or by an expert. also you can check some of the best responses.

 

Tips

  • Practice english in your day to day life as it it your native language.
  • Always keep in touch with english newspaper, nwes channel and video documentaries.
  • Try to speak a lot although you are not good at speaking.
  • Find someone with whom you can practise speaking.
  • Make a format for how you will start your response and which points you will add later.