TOEFL Preparation Guide With Tips & Resources

TOEFL prep guide

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test is one of the most famous evaluations related to English language certification for non-native speakers. It is used by more than 11,000 educational institutions and various agencies in over 150 countries. It is also commonly used as a part of a standard college application and admission criteria. What makes it unique is that once you pass it successfully, you do not have to prove to some university professor that you are able to achieve success and understand your grading rubric.

Be it Canada or New Zealand, your chances of getting enrolled are much higher! It is currently delivered with the help of computer-aided exams that include reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills exactly as it would happen in the classroom. According to statistics, more than 35 million people all over the world have already taken the test. Let us not forget that a good TOEFL score is also an important factor for working abroad and for immigration purposes where it is obligatory.

Since the TOEFL test has authorized centres in most parts of the world, it is much easier to take the test without having to worry about transportation and other issues. Unlike many other language tests, TOEFL is the de-facto standard that opens numerous doors in terms of professional career and college studies.

  • TOEFL is the preferred language test method by more than 80% of Canadian graduate programs. Canada remains one of the primary countries where the TOEFL test is a part of the obligatory admission process.
  • Working your way through the TOEFL exam, you have much higher chances of getting accepted in the United States.
  • It is accepted by 100% of the British universities, including the demanding Russel Group Schools league.
  • It is the preferred English-language test in the EU, especially in France and Germany.
  • If you apply for a migration visa in Australia and New Zealand, TOEFL is one of the most important aspects to consider.
  • It is also the current language standard in mainland China, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea.

After all, when your university score is backed by the presence of an excellent TOEFL test, your chances of getting accepted are much higher. It shows that you have skills for academic English implementation and the classic requirements of the classroom.

The Important TOEFL Aspects to Consider

Another important advantage of the TOEFL test is that it is quite logical with a unique structure and a specific scoring system. The general length of the test will last for about four hours with thirty minutes allocated for the check-in procedures. It is recommended to spend at least 4 1/2 hours at the local testing facility.

It must be added that the TOEFL is meant not only to measure your individual skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening but also in your ability to link these skills in between. Therefore, your exam will have four different parts where your specific skills are evaluated.

How to register for TOEFL?

Before you register for the TOEFL test, you must be ready to show that you are able to read, comprehend, write, and speak English. It is usually done as you register at the local registered TOEFL center. You can do so online, by phone, or by mail.

  • Online TOEFL Registration. You can turn to the TOEFL iBT registration website. You will have to create a profile, choose your test center location, the date, choose score recipients, and pay for your registration.
  • TOEFL Phone Registration. If you choose this method, call the Regional Registration Center. Just remember to check your registration form online and make sure that you have your payment information at hand. You must enter your TOEFL registration codes manually along with related information. You can pay by debit/credit card, Paypal, or via electronic check transfer.
  • TOEFL Mail Registration. You are still required to download and complete a paper registration form in advance. Remember to use the same spelling of your name everywhere. The paper forms must be received by the centre at least 4 weeks prior to your chosen testing date. You may send approved payment information and your printed registration form directly to the official registration office:

ETS-TOEFL iBT Registration Office

P.O. Box 6151

Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6151

ETS is the administration for the TOEFL that also provides a great searchable database with the TOEFL testing locations. Since the exam is offered 50 times per year, it will always vary among various testing centers. Make sure to check registration times as well locally.

What Parts Does TOEFL Include?

The test will include the following parts:

  • Reading (60 to 100 minutes). This part will require your reading comprehension skills. In the majority of cases, each passage represents academic standard text just like what you would encounter in English textbooks. The subjects, however, may range from Sociology and Literature to Psychology and Science.
  • Listening (60 to 90 minutes). Here is where you must keep concentrated and focused to understand various English conversations. It will include basic lectures and dialogues similar to the instructions that you may receive in the classroom or around the campus. The conversations are usually related to the Arts, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, and Physical Science subjects.
  • A short 10-minute break. It will be used to get ready for your speaking test so take your time to drink some water and relax a bit.
  • Speaking Test (20 minutes). It tests your ability to communicate in the educational environment. You will have to read several passages aloud, answer 2-5 questions when you are done reading, talk on a provided prompt, and answer relevant questions related to various conversations.
  • Writing (50 minutes). It is always considered the most challenging TOEFL test section. It checks your ability to write correctly in academic settings. However, it is not much different in terms of your general English mechanics, organization, grammar, spelling, argument development, and structure testing. You will have to write two separate essays where one is usually based on a reading passage and the second relates to an individual prompt.

Understanding Your TOEFL Scores

The TOEFL system will provide you with a score report, which is individual. It will include a total score and the scores for each individual section like reading or speaking. As a rule, your score report will be made available approximately 10 days after the testing date. You can download your score report by accessing it via your TOEFL online account. The ETS center will also provide you with a PDF copy of your report approximately within three days of getting your online score results.

Please, remember that your test scores will be sent to your selected institution approximately two weeks after the date you have received your score. It usually takes 7 to 10 days in the United States. It must be noted that the ETS will provide you with up to four official TOEFL score reports that are always chosen as you register for the examination. If you pay extra, you can request additional reports with your scores. You can also ask for a paper copy.

Your TOEFL test report is valid for two years after the date you have taken the test.

The Scoring Scale

The TOEFL exam implements both automated and human-based raters to determine your final score. Human beings rate writing and speaking sections while computers do the other parts. Here is the actual example of the grading rubric system with scores:

Reading:

  • High: 22-30
  • Intermediate: 15-21
  • Low: 0-14

Listening:

  • High: 22-30
  • Intermediate: 15-21
  • Low: 0-14

Speaking:

  • Good: 26-30
  • Fair: 18-25
  • Limited: 10-17
  • Weak: 0-9

You also receive a rating from zero to four for this test.

Writing:

  • Good: 24-30
  • Fair: 17-23
  • Limited: 1-16

Each essay is scored on a scale of zero to five.

Rescheduling or Canceling

In case you would like to reschedule your test, you have only four days to set another test date. It can be done both by phone or online. It means you can call +1-800-468-6335 in the United States or simply login into your account and cancel or schedule a different date.

TOEFL Limitations

You can take the TOEFL test as many times as you would like to improve your final score. You should only remember that you can take this exam once every twelve days. In other words, if you have an existing test date, you cannot register for the exam within 12 days of that date.

Assistance for Disabled People & Additional Health Factors

If you have a disability or any health-related issue, you can request special testing conditions prior to registration. For example, if your request has been reviewed positively, you will be offered a selection of testing support guidance and technical opportunities.

It can be specialized assistance (sign language interpreter, test readers, oral interpreter), technical accommodations (ergonomic keyboard, screen magnifier, and a touchpad keyboard), and adaptive tools (extended testing time, Braille test, and additional test breaks you might require).

Remember to provide an application form, testing accommodations request, and the certificate of Eligibility or Disability Documentation.

The TOEFL Fees

It is necessary to pay all the TOEFL fees in full when registering. The examination fees may differ from country to country. For example, in the United States, we can see that the standard price for the exam is $190 with an additional fee of $40 for scheduling purposes. As always, you can pay with credit/debit cards, electronic or paper checks, and Paypal.

You can receive a refund if you cancel your test at least four full days before your test date. If you cancel within that period, you can receive half of your original fee. If you cancel after that time period, no refunds are possible. However, you can pay an additional $60 to reschedule your test date.

In addition to that, you can request reinstatement of a cancelled score that costs $20. It is necessary to avoid the cancellation reports to your institution. It is a fee to reinstate your scores. Next, you can also receive a speaking and writing score review, which costs $180. This request can be made up to 30 days after taking the test. If you have already sent your scores to some institution, they cannot be reviewed. For example, it is necessary if you were able to change your score (for better or worse). The speaking and writer score reviews cost $80 each.

TOEFL Financial Assistance

ETS can provide you with a special TOEFL Fee Reduction Service form if you are:

  • a non-native speaker in senior year of high school in the U.S.
  • you have a family member that receives public assistance.
  • you live as a resident in a federally subsidized public housing project.
  • you are enrolled in a program that supports economically disadvantaged learners.

Make sure to discuss this aspect as you register and talk to your academic advisor as well.

Preparing for the TOEFL

Here are ten great tips to consider as you are getting ready for the TOEFL exam:

  1. Never ignore the element of practice. The more you practice and test yourself, the better your score will be.
  2. Focus on the test instructions and always check them twice. Do not hurry!
  3. The Time Factor relaxation. Test your skills in terms of time and make the time your friend by thinking about what you know well.
  4. Check your grammar and vocabulary. Include the words you know and try to avoid those words that you are not sure about.
  5. Take notes as you are listening to English language audio or watch some videos. It will help you to get ready for the listening test.
  6. Practice talking in English with your friends or via various helpful apps like HelloTalk where you can actually talk to English natives free of charge.
  7. Practice writing by focusing on accuracy and proofreading.
  8. Work on your confidence. Imagine that you are taking the test and check out some of the useful test simulation resources in our guide section below.
  9. Have English-speaking friends test your pronunciation and work on the dialogues for the speaking test.
  10. Remember to proofread your essays before you submit them!

Most importantly, learn to control your attitude and make sure that you practice and start with it early!

The List of Helpful TOEFL Prep Resources

Take time to examine these helpful TOEFL resources:

  1. TOEFL iBT Test Prep Planner. It has all the necessary resources for planning your exam and making sure that you follow all the rules.
  2. TOEFL iBT Interactive Sampler. You can access the past TOEFL questions free of charge.
  3. TOEFL iBT Test Questions. Another free collection of past official TOEFL tests.
  4. TOEFL iBT Quick Prep Tool. The practice simulation tool of a real examination.
  5. TestDen. A great education platform that provides several TOEFL preparation materials and reviews.
  6. Learn4Good. It has free interactive samples of test questions that are quite similar to an actual test. Check your grammar and test your skills.
  7. 4Tests. It has a great collection of practice questions for reading, listening, and writing.
  8. Purdue Online Writing Lab. You can check yourself in terms of English grammar rules and punctuation.
  9. TOEFL TV. An official YouTube channel where you can learn more about this exam and get some tips for online testing registration and more.
  10. TOEFL Talks. It includes face-to-face seminars and online webinars where the official ETS representatives discuss exams, registration, scores, and the best ways to get prepared.

Remember to learn all the rules and start with your TOEFL exam preparation in advance. By doing so, you will feel much more confident and prepared!

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