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- Understand the format of TOEFL
First and probably the most important thing to do is to know the format of your test. Did you know that there are two different kind of TOEFL tests? The Internet based TOEFL (iBT) and the paper-based TOEFL (PBT). You don’t want to find out on the day of the test that you accidentally signed up for the PBT and have been preparing for the iBT test. Secondly, know that there are FOUR parts to this test! Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
- Use practice tests
When I was preparing for my TOEFL test, I bought their eBook and there were a few practice tests on it too. Honestly, after I read their eBook, I was confident that I would get a high score for the test. However, my first practice test said otherwise. It was because of the first practice test’s score that I decided to take practice test number 2, 3, 4, 5 and every other tests that they provided. I could see that there were signs of improvement on each tests. So I highly encourage to make full use of the practice tests!
This brings me to my next point.
- Be prepared (practice in examination condition)
Don’t just take the practice tests while you watch TV or while you listen to your favorite music because when it comes to the real test, the room will be dead quiet, trust me on this. You want to mentally prepare yourself for this test and do well. You do not want to put yourself through all that stress and anxiety again.
- Take good notes
Learn how to take good notes because you will need to take notes on 3 sections- listening, speaking and writing.
- Be comfortable
You are going to want to wear something you are very comfortable in. You never know how the test room would be and you want to make sure that YOU are comfortable. With that said, bring an additionally layer (jacket) just in case you might need it. Being uncomfortable is a distraction and could affect your results too. So be COMFORTABLE!
I always love reading but I do not do well when reading under pressure. Based on my experience, I decided to skim through the passage given to us because I noticed a trend with the questions asked- that it is in order to the passage. For example, question 1, first paragraph. Question 2, second paragraph. Also, learning some new vocabulary would help. I remembered receiving a couple of vocabulary questions.
Listening can be a difficult section to ace in. When doing the listening practice tests, I highly recommend it to only play it once and taking notes on what is said. This is because when taking the actual test, you are only allowed to listen to the conversation ONCE. There are a lot of information to remember when listening, so take notes, learn to get into that habit. If you can, try and filter the main key points in the conversation as this will help you understand better the whole conversation.
This is the shortest section of the TOEFL test yet it could be the most stressful section. You are given a topic to talk about and under a time constraint. My recommendation for this section would be to take all the time given to you, write all your ideas down and be organize. Additionally, try to use words that you are comfortable using and pronouncing.
Writing is never an easy task, especially for non-native English speakers. I managed to reduce my stress level for this section brainstorming before I wrote anything. I wrote down my ideas, which side of the argument I am for and organize it. Organization is the key for writing so the reader would understand what you are talking about. Here is a format of how to write an essay:
Introduction- telling the reader what you are going to talk about in your essay
Body- this is usually about 2-3 paragraphs supporting your argument or opinion. To begin writing body paragraph, a helpful tip is to write in one sentence explaining what the paragraph is about and the rest of the paragraph is used to support the first sentence. Using specific examples is very helpful too!
Conclusion- one paragraph summarizing what your whole essay is about.
Last but not least, the most important tip is…
EAT, EAT, EAT… before the test!
I am going to be honest with you and let you know that this test do take a long time. If you have taken the practice tests, you would know by then that this test will not be done in an hour. So make sure your stomach can last for at least 4 hours.