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toefl guide

The Ultimate Guide for Your TOEFL Preparation

Madison Oster June 13th, 2018

When it comes to taking the TOEFL it may seem a bit intimidating at first or a bit confusing on where to start. This is where the ultimate guide for your TOEFL preparation comes in handy. The following preparation guides for each of the TOEFL sections and the article how to score high on the TOEFL will help you achieve your target TOEFL score.

  1. The ultimate guide for the TOEFL reading section
  2. The ultimate guide for the TOEFL listening section
  3. The ultimate guide for the TOEFL speaking section
  4. The ultimate guide for the TOEFL writing section

In addition to the above preparation guides, you need to have a plan for your TOEFL preparation. Here is a simple step by step plan you can follow to help you prepare well enough to achieve your desired TOEFL score.

Step 1: Set a TOEFL Goal Score

The best way to figure out a single passing TOEFL score is to determine beforehand what the bare minimum TOEFL score requirements are for the schools you wish to study in. Out of your list of schools try to take the school with the highest TOEFL score requirement and set that as your TOEFL score goal. This way even if you don't meet the highest score requirement you will still be able to meet your other choices for college/university and their TOEFL score requirements.

For example, you can make a simple chart showing the schools you want to apply to, their minimum TOEFL score requirements, and any other notes about the schools. Finding each school's TOEFL score requirements is as simple as looking up “TOEFL requirements for this [school name]” or “minimum TOEFL score requirements for [school name]”.

Here is an example:

To look up for TOEFL requirements for universities, you can check online here. There are many universities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland that are partnered with UK universities and colleges. However, these colleges may not accept TOEFL and instead either require no TOEFL scores or IELTS scores for admissions.

Related article: TOEFL Requirements for Colleges and Universities: What Score Do You Need for Admissions?

Step 2: Get to know the TOEFL format

The TOEFL is divided up into four sections: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Here is how the TOEFL is generally structured:

Test Section Number of questions Timing
Reading 3-4 passages 12-16 questions each 60–80 minutes
Listening 4-6 lectures, 6 questions each
2-3 conversations, 5 questions each
60–90 minutes
BREAK   10 minutes
Speaking 6 tasks: 2 independent and 4 integrated 20 minutes
Writing 1 integrated task
1 independent task
20 minutes
30 minutes

Also please note that you may be given extra experimental questions for the reading and listening sections of the test. This will add both more questions and increase the time for these sections of the TOEFL.  Make sure you research and review each section of the TOEFL to understand what sort of content you may need to review in advance.

For more information, visit ETS.

Step 3: Find your baseline score

You are probably wondering what is a baseline score? Well, a baseline score is the overall total score that you get when you take a practice test version of the TOEFL.

Once you finish a practice test, write down the scores for each section, add them together to get your total TOEFL score. Having a baseline TOEFL score can be helpful when you want to determine which areas of the test you need to focus on the most.

Take your first TOEFL practice test.

Step 4: Calculate the Number of Hours You’ll Need to Study

Once you have figured out both your baseline score and your goal score you can now begin to determine how many hours you will need to study. First, subtract you base score from your goal score. The point difference will determine how many hours you should spend studying.

For every 15 hours you study with Bestmytest, you expect to improve 1 point.

For example, if you scored a 75 on your last TOEFL and your dream TOEFL score is 100, that means that you need 25 more points.

25 points x 15 hours per point = 375 hours. If you study 4 hours a day, you need to study for over 93 days (over 3 months).

Now, apply our formula: how many hours do you need to reach your dream TOEFL score? 

Step 5: Make a study plan

Making a study plan can sound tedious and a bit confusing at first. You may or may not know where to start either as far as reading, listening, writing and speaking. Don't worry though this guide has you covered! If you are unsure about where to start your studying, you can use this great example of a one-month study plan to achieve your TOEFL score goals.

Task Goal Time
Complete Master TOEFL speaking 1-6 lessons Learn tips and answer templates of all TOEFL speaking tasks. 1 - 2 hours
Practice 30 TOEFL speaking task 1 questions Become comfortable with giving an organized 45-second speech for the speaking task 1 10 hours
Practice 30 TOEFL speaking task 2 questions Become comfortable with giving an organized 45-second speech for the speaking task 2 10 hours
Practice 15 TOEFL speaking 3 questions Become familiar with taking notes from the reading campus passages and campus conversations in order to give an organized 60 seconds speech for the speaking task 3 8 hours
Practice 20 TOEFL speaking 4 questions Become familiar with taking notes from the academic passages and university lectures in order to give an organized 60 seconds speech for the speaking task 4 10 hours
Practice 15 TOEFL speaking 5 questions Become familiar with taking notes from campus conversations in order to give an organized 60 seconds speech for the speaking task 5 8 hours
Practice 20 TOEFL speaking 6 questions Become familiar with taking notes from university lectures in order to give an organized 60 seconds speech for the speaking task 4 10 hours
Take a full TOEFL speaking exam and have our TOEFL reviewers review your speaking responses Identify your speaking mistakes and how to improve TOEFL speaking score by following feedback from our TOEFL reviewers 1 hour
Complete 4 TOEFL Independent writing lessons Learn how to write a full TOEFL Independent essay 1 - 2 hours
Complete 2 TOEFL Integrated writing lessons Learn how to write a full TOEFL Integrated essay 1 - 2 hours
Write 12 essays for 6 question types of TOEFL independent essays 1. Get used to writing essays for 6 different question types of TOEFL independent essays. 2. Compare your essays with sample essays

 

12 hours
Write 8 TOEFL integrated writing tasks Get used to writing for TOEFL integrated writing tasks. Compare your essays with sample essays 8 hours
Request 4 writing reviews Identify your writing mistakes and how to improve TOEFL writing score by following feedback from our TOEFL reviewers 1 hour
Complete 60 TOEFL reading practice and review answers 1. Increase your reading comprehension speed via reading TOEFL reading passages 2. Be familiar with answering different reading question types. 3. Practice timing during TOEFL reading tests 40 hours
Complete 60 TOEFL Listening practice and review answers 40 hours
Take 2 TOEFL full tests 8 hours
Total 170 hours

To see our TOEFL lessons, go to our TOEFL Lessons page

Here are other two recommended study plans for you:

Intense One month TOEFL study plan

Intense Six-month TOEFL study plan

Step 6: Use High-Quality Resources to Practice

There are multiple resources you can use to study and prepare for your TOEFL. You can use some of the free official TOEFL resources, these will have sample TOEFL questions and tips to help you better your score. The official TOEFL website offers many resources to help you prepare well such as books, apps, and online practice tests (for a fee)

There are many great online TOEFL courses and tutors that will be able to help you for a small cost. Tutors are one of the best ways to help you prepare well for the TOEFL. Tutors help assess your trouble areas, provide feedback and study plans to help you get on track, provide lessons and more. It is definitely worth the investment to get a tutor if you are unsure of how to meet your TOEFL score goals.

Other high-quality resources you can use are TOEFL study guide books since they often offer multiple practice tests and can help supplement your lessons with your tutor.

If you are looking for high-quality TOEFL practice tests, check this guide Preparing for the TOEFL Test with TOEFL Practice Tests

Step 7: Hone your test-prep and test-taking strategies

There are multiple strategies you can try when studying for each section. Go to our TOEFL Lessons page to check out test-prep and test-taking strategies.

Step 8: Target Your Weaknesses

The best study tip of all is to study the hard parts first. By studying and spending more time on the sections you struggle with most, you will be able to improve your understanding and overall score in those sections. For example, if you spend more study time with practicing your listening and speaking skills you will be able to improve your score in these specific sections. Practicing these hard sections first will also help you build more confidence in your English speaking and listening skills. If you struggle with writing or reading, then you should spend time practicing these skills as often as possible.

What to do if you don't meet your TOEFL score goal

In the unfortunate event that you were not able to achieve a high enough score, you can always retake the TOEFL. By retaking the exam after you have spent time targeting your weaknesses you will have a better chance of reaching your TOEFL score goal.

Retaking the test is also a great way to determine how you can do better next time. For instance, you can learn where you need the most work in, what you need to practice and/or study most in, and what parts you don't need as much practice. This can all help you determine what you need to do to get a higher score next time. Avoid retaking the test twice within 12 days of your last TOEFL.

Remember with every small setback there is always a lesson to be learned. The TOEFL is no different.

Final thoughts

When you want to meet your TOEFL score goal you will need to make sure you have plenty of time to study. To help with your studying you can take advantage of the various studying resources for the TOEFL.

Books are a great resource and study tool to use since you get access to not only practice tests but also a physical text that you can take with you when you don't have access to a computer.

Online tutors are another great study option to use when you want to make improvements by at least 7+ points. Not only will they help you improve through lessons but they will also be able to offer feedback and advice outside of your lessons.

Remember to give yourself time if you were unable to meet your original TOEFL score goal.

 
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