What is TOEFL?

TOEFL is a word that many young students who plan on going to foreign universities have come across more than a couple of times while working through the application process. But what exactly is it? Simply said, TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a universally recognized exam taken by students who are not native English speakers in order to prove their competency in the English language. TOEFL test assesses whether you have the sufficient reading, writing, listening and speaking skills needed to subsist in academic background.

Why TOEFL?

There are many readily available English proficiency exams out there which might have made you wonder why Learn TOEFL and not one of them? Well, here’s why:

More than 10,000 universities and other institutions in over 150 countries accept TOEFL scores. TOEFL has become one of the most sought-after qualification tests in many universities of the US, Canada, France and Germany. In some cases, the institutions in these countries might be adamant about it being only TOEFL and may not accept any other test scores. English used in an academic level is relatively different from the regular usage. TOEFL prepares you for both cases.

TOEFL – Is it for me?

TOEFL may be for you if you are:

  • A person who wants to get an idea about their proficiency level in the English language
  • A student planning to apply for a higher educational institute
  • A scholarship or certification candidate
  • Student or worker applying for a visa

How will I be tested?

TOEFL exam consists of 4 sections that will assess your skills in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Below is the short description of these sections:

  1. Reading
    This section will be held within a duration of 60-80 minutes. You will be given 36-56 questions that you will have to answer after reading 3-4 academic passages.
  2. Listening
    The listening section of the exam will go on for 60-90 minutes. You will be made to listen to lectures, classroom discussions, and conversations. Then you will have to answer 34-51 questions related to these materials.
  3. Speaking
    This section consists of 6 tasks where you will have to give out your opinion on a certain topic. The duration of this section is 20 minutes.
  4. Writing
    For the writing section, you will have 2 tasks in which you will be writing essay responses. You are required to support an opinion during this task. The section has a duration of 50 minutes. This also includes a plagiarism test to analyze that your writing is unique and up to the required standards. 

Your first step of preparation for TOEFL is to familiarize yourself with the exam structure. Apart from the general outline provided above, I strongly recommend that you refer to TOEFL official website information. TOEFL Exam Contents page consists of a detailed analysis of the exam and its units.

How to better prepare yourself?

As with any exam, the key to success is your preparation. Here’s a list of tips that have helped top scorers of TOEFL. Utilizing these tips will help you develop your skills and reach your target score.

Find out what score you need by checking the requirements of the university you plan to apply. Once you are aware of what score you need, you’ll be able to effectively prepare towards your target score.

If you feel that you are falling short of your target score when you take the practice tests, then taking TOEFL classes or hiring a tutor will be worthwhile. These methods will guide you better and enable you to focus on your weak areas and improve them.

Give yourself as much exposure to the language as possible. Listen to radio channels and podcasts, watch the news, read newspapers and books – this will help you to develop listening skills and enrich your vocabulary thereby improve your writing.

Practice with tests offered by official resources. These tests are very similar in format to the real exam and therefore you will be able to better analyze your progress, current level and your weak areas.

Essays and speaking sections can be the most difficult to self-assess. Asking a tutor or someone experienced to check your essays and help you with the speaking part can be beneficial.

When it comes to the speaking section, many students tend to overlook it. But there are few ways of actually testing your speaking before the day of the exam. If you aren’t confident in your ability to speak in front of a native English speaker, then it will be really tough for you on the day of the exam. There’s plenty of options you can take to build your speaking confidence. If you have a friend who is a native speaker, take the time to make a voice call and let him/her ask you formal questions. There are also plenty of servers on Discord that are dedicated to language learning. They have native English members who’d be willing to voice chat. Use these options as they will definitely come in handy to reduce your anxiety during the 20-minute speech.

Online Resources to Aid Preparation

When it comes to an exam, your resources are your best friends. But piling up all the resources you get is not the right way to go. Though there is a large number of resources available on the Internet, there’s plenty of them that are unreliable or of low quality. These resources can be misleading and can have a negative effect on your preparation. Here are well-reputed resources that will empower your preparation:

First things first, the official TOEFL website’s Test Preparation section includes full-length practice tests, a speaking series, online prep courses, test planners and more.

PrepAway is an online platform where you can get a collection of practice questions for all exam sections. The website has got great reviews by past test takers who have achieved excellent scores.

Conclusion

TOEFL is an English language proficiency test recognized by universities, institutions and employers across the world. By giving yourself enough time to prepare and practicing with the official and updated resources, you will be able to get the score demanded by the university course or employment body you hope to apply to.

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