The TOEFL exam is the doorway to the top universities in the world. A good TOEFL score can do wonders for a student. A good score comes with a great deal of preparation and choosing the right resources. However, the dilemma for a student starts right at the preparation stage, and there is no doubt that in the presence of an ocean of resources, it's almost impossible to filter the right one without any proper guidance.
So, in this blog, we have collected the best TOEFL preparation study techniques and resources to help students make a concerted effort rather than a vague one. A dedicated effort with the right set of resources for a two to three-month window can help a student comfortably sail through the exam.
TOEFL preparation is a combination of judicious use of resources and the adoption of the correct methodology. If a test taker is ready to have both of them, the chances are very likely to get a score that can land them into the world's top universities.
What is TOEFL?
When you hear the term TOEFL, your brain starts processing a series of questions. What exactly is TOEFL? Why should you give this test to apply to a university? Which colleges accept TOEFL results? How is the exam structure? And there are numerous other questions. So, before you decide to take this exam, you should be fully informed about it. So keep reading!
The Educational Testing Service administers the TOEFL, which stands for 'Test of English as a Foreign Language' (ETS). It is a standardised test that assesses non-native English speakers' English proficiency in reading, speaking, listening, writing, and understanding. More than 1100 universities, organisations, and other institutions, including immigration departments, medical and licensing agencies, and so on, accept TOEFL scores. It is widely accepted in over 150 countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, and countries throughout Europe and Asia.
Modes of TOEFL Exam
The TOEFL exam is conducted in two formats. These are:
- iBT (Internet-Based Test) –
TOEFL Internet-Based Test, as the name implies, is administered online and is the most popular mode of examination. Approximately 97% of TOEFL test takers choose iBT. This test is repeated at various locations throughout the year. It is divided into four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. All four sections are completed at a test centre with internet access. You will read from the screen, listen through a headset, record speech into a microphone, and typewritten responses on a keyboard. So, there is no use of a pen or paper, making it entirely computer-based.
- PBT (Paper-Based Test)-
TOEFL applicants very rarely take this type of test. It is typically held in areas without internet access and is offered 4 times per year. This examination is also structured differently. The fact that it only has three sections—reading, listening, and writing—distinguishes it from the iBT. The test is about 2.5 hours long unlike the iBT which is 3.5- 4 hours long.
TOEFL Exam Structure
TOEFL has pretty much a straightforward test format that pivots around an individual's reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities. So, it assesses all the aspects of communication and helps educational institutions or employers ascertain an individual's proficiency in the English language. TOEFL has a different approach to evaluating an individual's English proficiency than other tests, so its preparation shouldn't be compared with IELTS or other tests.
The test is online, which warrants developing a sense of affinity towards online reading and practising online. Many students deter from the test format by overly concentrating on the preparation in offline mode, and in the end, they don't get familiarized online.
1. Reading Section: Students must read 3 to 4 academic text excerpts before answering questions based on them. There are 30-40 questions that need to be answered in approximately 54-72 minutes.
2. Listening Section: This section includes 2 conversations, 3 lectures. Test takers must answer questions based on lectures, dialogues, and classroom discussions that they would have just listened to. There would be 28-38 questions which must be answered in approximately 41-57 minutes.
3. Writing Section: This section requires you to complete 2 constructed responses in 50 minutes. Candidates must write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks, as well as support their arguments in writing.
4. Speaking Section: Candidates must speak in response to reading and listening exercises and provide their perspectives on a common topic. In 17 minutes, they must answer a total of two questions.
Best TOEFL Resources a Test Taker Can Use
TOEFL preparation can be done with a plethora of resources, and from online to offline, there is no shortage of resources. The real catch lies in the use of these resources without getting entangled in the ocean of resources.
TOEFL Preparation with the help of Apps
Nowadays, there's an app for everything, so why not use an app for TOEFL preparation? There are several apps developed by experts that help students in doing their TOEFL preparation with minimal investment. However, there is one thing that every TOEFL test taker should bear in mind is that it is not possible to have a full-fledged preparation solely with the apps. Apps are a great supplement and can be helpful for short revisions while travelling or in leisure but can't be a wholesome solution.
TOEFL Preparation with Online Resources
Many online resources are available free of cost, and students must use them for TOEFL preparation. But again, only the free resources can't help a student sail through the test without having access to packaged material. Online resources will yield better results if an aspirant takes a paid package where the study material is organized. A customized plan is provided, regular monitoring is also offered (depending on the type of package a student chooses), and timely preparation evaluation.
Taking free sample tests from websites is undoubtedly a good strategy, but solely depending on them might not be a bright idea. Even while selecting the free sample test, one must download it from renowned websites, e.g., ETS official website also provides free sample test papers and perhaps what could be better than the test takers themselves. With these 25 proven tips on how to study effectively you can surely make the most of your time.
TOEFL Preparation with the help of Books
Books are an old friend to all of us since we weren't born with an iPad. Online resources and apps are reasonable solutions, but the necessity and importance of books can't be undermined. There are numerous books from different publications meant for different sections like reading, writing, etc. However, the selection of the right book can be a game-changer in TOEFL preparations. There are certain standard books that almost everyone refers to, and they must be a part of the resources of every serious TOEFL test taker.
These are some of the best books you can refer to for TOEFL preparation:
1. Official Guide to the TOEFL Test (ETS)
2. Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL iBT Test
3. TOEFL iBT (Barron)
4. The TOEFL iBT Test Prep Planner (ETS)
5. Official TOEFL iBT Tests (ETS)
6. TOEFL iBT Prep Plus (Kaplan)
TOEFL Preparation with Online Tutoring
Many students choose private online tutoring as they help students grasp the concepts more clearly and in a relatively short period. Online TOEFL preparation also helps students develop familiarity with the TOEFL-like interface and gives them an edge over others. They also put up videos, recorded lectures, doubt clearance sessions, access from home, and a ton of other benefits. One of the best things is the cost-effectiveness of online tutoring, as their fee structure is almost half of the offline tutorials.
Best Study Technique For TOEFL Preparation
After reading about all the resources, one can certainly ascertain the best method for TOEFL preparation. The practice method in all the modes is distinct, and it's up to the student to choose the most viable option. For an undergraduate student, taking classes online way can be the best choice; on the other hand, weekend classes might be the best choice for a working professional. If you are familiar with the app interface and comfortable reading from notes on the app, app-based preparation can help them.
As far as books are concerned, the method of preparation barely affects the book selection. The only thing one should take care of is the balance between different sections. The sections where a student is struggling need more preparation, and at the same Time, a student must ensure that they don't leave their areas of strength in overconfidence. You can read our guide to preparing for an exam article for more insider tips and tricks.
One of the best methods for preparing for TOEFL is to do as many tests as possible. Practice is key to getting a good score in TOEFL. Since language is subjective, one can't leave things to chance, and neither is there any chance to be 100% assured of the preparation. So a balanced effort coupled with the proper guidance can do wonders in the TOEFL test and make the dream of studying at a world-class university a reality.
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