Some practical TOEFL tips...April 6, 2023 | Guides
Well... In January this year, I did a TOEFL test because I needed a certain English level for university studies.
Luckily, I managed to do so on my first attempt, not only due to the additional stress in this scenario but also the extra cost. Bye bye money...
I got a 104/120 (Reading: 25/30, Listening: 29/30, Speaking: 25/30, Writing: 25/30) and I'm pretty happy with the score due to two reasons. First, I don't handle nervous situations that well. Second, I only had about two weeks to study. Yes. I could've gotten a bit better if I had more time and hadn't made pretty stupid spelling/sentence mistakes in the Writing section for example. Who cares though... I got what I wanted and it's a pretty good score as well. Now, I want to share some quick little tips that might come in handy for you.
Before I start though... I consider myself quite fluent in English, so my tips are mostly focused on clintéel which are already on a similar English level as they already are.
Enough talking though. Here. We. Go.
- Learn linking words/phrases. By far the most important tip I can give you. Super useful, especially in the Writing and Speaking sections, since they give you interesting/varied sentence structure, show off your language skills, and also give you some leeway in timed tasks like the Speaking sections. There, you get those extra few seconds to think about your answer while you say/write your prepared sentence/words.
- Study the task format for each section. While studying for the test, I noticed that giving a good answer to a TOEFL question is a bit tricky, even if you are already on your targeted fluency level. Ever tried giving a one-minute monologue to a statement while only thinking 15 seconds about it? Try it out. It's hard.
Therefore I suggest studying the question format for each section and how those questions are structured. Maybe try out some example tasks or tests. It's more consistent than you might assume. 😉
- Don't rush. I made that mistake. I tried making some quick corrections in the Writing section. What happened afterwards? The time ran out and my corrections, thus my sentences were incomplete. I generally suggest taking a deep breath before each (larger) question and then tackling it. Even in timed tasks like the Speaking section. Those extra 1-2s don't hurt your score, give you more time to think, and help to collect your thoughts and give a coherent answer. Very useful, especially in Speaking since stuttering around hurts your score quite a bit.
- Prepare your surroundings beforehand. Clean up your room. Get an external webcam. Get a decent external microphone. Get external speakers. You can't use all of the computer equipment you normally use. Primarily, I use my PC with headphones. Headphones aren't allowed though... I think you see where I want to go with this point. Prepare that stuff a good while before and take a look at the requirements page of ETS. You need longer than you might think.
- Test your note-taking. You can't possibly remember everything, especially in the Listening section. Therefore, you need notes. In the Listening section, there is a lot of rapid-fire information which you might need later on. Everybody takes notes a bit differently, uses different short-hand symbols, and has different priorities. So try it out beforehand and see how well you do with your current style and maybe with some adaptations.
Yeah... I think those five are the most important tips I could give you. There is probably other advice I could add to this list but then again, there is no need to overcomplicate things. If you do that, you get more anxiety and more anxiety always results in worse test scores. We don't need this. We only need to crush this test to get to our final goal. whatever this may be...
Good luck my friend. 🍀