The Ten Best Tips to Get a High Score on the TOEFL iBT!

by Melanie on January 9, 2012

(Photo by Tim Hamilton)

The TOEFL is one of the most difficult tests you will ever take in your life! Here is a list of ten things that will help you get the highest score possible on the TOEFL iBT, and fulfill your dream of studying at an English-speaking university.


1. Make sure you understand the TOEFL!
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an English proficiency test produced by an American company called ETS. It is a test that measures your English reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills, and your ability to succeed at an English-speaking university.

This is the structure of the TOEFL:

Each section has a score of 30, for a total overall score of 120. You don’t pass or fail the TOEFL. Each university requires non-native speakers to get a specific score. Sometimes universities require a specific score for each section of the test, for example 24 out of 30 in the speaking section. Before you begin studying for the TOEFL, it’s a good idea to know the score that you need to achieve.

There are A LOT of resources available to help you learn about the test & help you study for the test. ETS, the company that makes the test, has a useful video introducing you to the resources available on its website:

Resources in this video:
TOEFL Journey
Sample TOEFL questions


2. Be prepared!

You should give yourself 6 months – 1 year to be fully prepared for the test, especially if you have never taken the test before.

  • When you sit down at the computer to take the test, nothing should be a surprise. You should know every reading question, every listening question, every speaking task, and every writing task on the test. You should know exactly what you have to do to answer every question properly.
  • You should also know the exact score you need to achieve for each university you want to apply to. (Some schools require just an overall TOEFL score, but some schools require specific scores in each section.) You should know exactly what you need to do get the required score.
  • Do not try to prepare for the test alone. At the very least, you need a textbook:
This is by far the best and most up-to-date textbook available. It thoroughly explains each section of the TOEFL and includes hundreds of practice questions and multiple quizzes. There are also 4 practice tests included in this book. (The CD needed for the listening, speaking and writing sections is also included.)
  • Even if you use a textbook, it’s really important to work with a teacher, either in a course or in private lessons. You need someone to help you with your pronunciation, and to assess how you’re doing in the speaking and writing sections. Talk to friends who have taken the TOEFL. Who did they study with? What score did they get? What would they have done differently? Check at a university or college near you. Do they offer a TOEFL course? There are also several TOEFL instructors online. Do you know anyone who has studied with them?


3. Read Everything. Listen to Everything.
I cannot stress this enough. When you are preparing for the TOEFL, it is not good enough to just listen to and read things that you enjoy and are interested in. You need to read widely to build your vocabulary. On the TOEFL you will read passages or listen to lectures on everything from astronomy and American history to psychology and biology!

  • The TOEFL has teamed up with a company called Lexile to help you find books at your reading level. If you have taken a TOEFL practice test or the actual TOEFL and you know your reading score, you can type in your score and Lexile will suggest books in the topic of your choice at your reading level.
  • sells digital audiobooks that you can listen to on any computer or device. It also has a series of university-level courses that you can listen to called The Great Courses. Each course is a series of audio lectures. You can buy a course on science, history, economics, religion, or entertainment! [You need an Amazon account to join One audiobook or Great Course costs 1 credit. When you join, you get 1 credit free for the first month, then you pay $14.95 US per month after that.] PLUS you get a FREE digital subscription to the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal!
  • Three excellent resources on the Internet are BBC News, NPR, and VOANews. Many of the articles on the VOA and NPR websites also have .mp3 files, so you can also use the articles as listening lectures.

Here are some more resources to get you started:

BBC – business
NPR – business
VOA News – Economy and Business
The Economist

Science, Health, and the Environment:
NPR – Science
BBC – Nature
BBC – Science and Environment
BBC – Health
VOA News – Science and Technology
VOA News – Environment
VOA News – Health

Arts, Entertainment, and History:
BBC – Entertainment and Arts
BBC – History
NPR – Arts
VOA News Arts and Entertainment

  • This is a book you may find useful to help you build your vocabulary and improve your reading skills:
The 400 words are divided into 8 themes and 40 lessons. For example, in the ‘Money’ section, the lessons are: Financial Systems, Wealth and Social Class, Personal Property, Employment, International Trade. There are 10 words in each lesson, and each lesson contains definitions of each word, usage tips, and three exercises using the words. It’s available in paperback or for your kindle.


  • If you have just started studying for the TOEFL and it is difficult for you to read (or listen to) some of the resources above, that’s OK! There are still lots of resources available to you:

The English Teacher Melanie Podcast – Each episode is a short story about something that happened in my daily. I use core vocabulary and I speak naturally with a standard American accent. Each episode also includes a short pronunciation lesson.

ESLPod – The episodes are short dialogues on a variety of topics. The dialogues include great vocabulary, phrases & idioms. Each episode includes a slow dialogue, a discussion of vocabulary, and a fast dialogue. The transcript is also provided on the website.

VOA Learning English – This section of the website has articles similar to the news section, but they are easier to read and the listening clips are much slower.

Listen a Minute- If you are still struggling with listening or vocabulary, this website will help you build up your skills.


If you are studying for the TOEFL, and you use some reading and listening resources that I have not mentioned, please tell me about them in the comments below!


4. Learn how to take good notes.
This is an essential skill you will need for the listening, speaking and writing sections of the test – AND a skill you will need later on at an English-speaking university.

In each section where listening is required, you can only listen to the clip ONCE! You cannot go back and listen to it again and again. You will then have to answer questions on what you heard (listening section), speak about what you heard (speaking section), or write an essay based on what you heard (writing section). Therefore you will need to take good notes! People who take good notes get higher scores on the TOEFL.

This is a skill that takes a lot of practice.

  • Don’t try to write down anything and everything you hear. Don’t just write down words that you understand. Write down the essential information that you will need to understand the lecture later
  • Use symbols and shorthand. Everybody develops their own system for this, but here are some suggestions:
  • In tip #3 I told you about the resources available on the NPR and VOA websites. Those are great websites to use to practice note-taking as well. When you have finished listening, you can go back and compare your notes to the transcript.
  • Another great resource you can use to practice listening and note-talking is Ted Talks. These are talks given on wide variety of topics from a wide range of speakers. They last anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes.
  • If NPR, VOA and TED Talks are too long for you, practice note-taking with the shorter clips from Listen a Minute.

When you sit down to take the test, you will get 3 sheets of paper. Every time you put up your hand, the proctors are supposed to give you 3 more sheets of paper, but that doesn’t always happen. It may take a while for a proctor to see your hand, if they are paying attention at all. Use your 3 sheets of paper wisely! Don’t use all 3 pages on a single lecture or conversation.


5. Make sure your pronunciation is clear.
On the TOEFL, it’s OK to speak English with an accent. Your pronunciation doesn’t have to be perfect, but you need to speak clearly and be understood.

The speaking section measures three things:

  • How well you answer the question and complete the task
  • The grammar and vocabulary you use
  • How you sound

My blog post ‘How to improve your pronunciation‘ has many more tips on things you can do to sound better. This is one area where it is important to work with a teacher or instructor. You need someone to tell you what you’re doing right and what you can do better.

When you are practicing the speaking task on your own, record yourself (most laptops and computers come with recording software). This is important for two reasons:

  • You can hear yourself speak and evaluate your response
  • You can get used to speaking to a computer! If you prepare for the test in a classroom or from a book, it may feel a bit strange talking to a computer.

Here are 3 videos from ETS that discuss the different speaking tasks.

Tasks 1 and 2
*Please note: several students have noticed a change in speaking task 1 topic. You may be asked to give advice to someone, which is different from what is discussed in this video. However, all the other information in this video is useful.


Tasks 3 and 5


Tasks 4 and 6


6. Get Used to a QWERTY Keyboard
The final section on the TOEFL is the writing section. You will need to use a QWERTY keyboard to type your responses into the computer. It’s called a QWERTY keyboard because the top row of letters starts from the left with the letters QWERTY. LOOK CAREFULLY!

Here’s what the TOEFL keyboard looks like:

You should practice as much as possible with a QWERTY keyboard.

Learn Touch Typing
Most people type by using the ‘hunt and peck’ method: you hunt (look) for the letter you need on the keyboard, and then peck (hit) it with a finger. When you learn touch typing, you will learn how to use all your fingers to to type WITHOUT looking at the keyboard! It’s a much faster method of typing, but it takes a lot of practice. Touch typing is not essential for the TOEFL, but it definitely helps you type faster.

Here’s a short video that shows you where to put your fingers on the keyboard:

Once you learn the correct placement of your fingers, you can practice typing here:


7. Learn how to write an English Essay
As I mentioned in tip #6, the last section of the TOEFL is the writing section. There are two writing tasks. The last task, and the very last thing you will do on the TOEFL, is type a 300-word essay within 30 minutes.

Practice this essay as much as possible!

  • Learn the traditional form of an English essay
  • When you start practicing this essay, don’t worry about time. Begin by taking as long as necessary to write a good essay.
  • Once you are able to write a good essay, start timing yourself and getting faster at it, until writing a 300-word essay within 30 minutes doesn’t even worry you!

North American writing tends to follow the same form:

  • Introduction – this introduces your essay, and tells the reader your opinion and what you are going to talk about in your essay
  • Body – 2-3 paragraphs that support your opinion
  • One paragraph = one thought; the first sentence of the paragraph explains what the paragraph is about, and the rest of the paragraph uses clear, specific examples to illustrate your opinion
  • Conclusion – a paragraph that summarizes your essay

If you would like to practice on your own, the ETS website has a list of typical independent essay questions.

Here’s a video that explains how to structure your TOEFL independent essay:

(Essay topic: Some people prefer to live in a small town. Others prefer to live in a big city. Which place would you prefer to live in and why?)


Here’s a video from ETS that explains a bit more about the TOEFL independent essay.
*I disagree with one thing in this video: don’t write your outline on paper! Type your outline directly into the space where you’re going to write your essay. You can build your essay around your outline.

Understanding the traditional English style of writing an essay will help you in almost every section of the TOEFL. If you know that one paragraph = one thought, you can understand the structure of the reading passages better. You will also need to state an opinion and support your opinion with clear, specific examples in the speaking section.

Here are some more points to remember:

  • Answer the question that’s being asked! Don’t try to change the question. If it asks you to make a choice, make a clear choice – don’t try to argue both positions. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. Your essay is scored on how well you answer the question.
  • Type your outline in the essay space on the computer! You waste time if you write it by hand and then type it.
  • Keep it simple and be specific!

Here is another video from ETS that explains the first writing task, the integrated essay:


8. Practice, practice, practice.
This is the best tip I can give you. Students are always looking for a trick or a secret they can learn to help them do better on the TOEFL. This is it! Once you know the TOEFL inside and out, the only thing that can help you get better at it is to keep practicing it!

  • In the book I recommended in tip #2, there are 4 practice tests
  • The same publisher has another book with 6 more practice tests:

(This is the book + audio CDs)

  • There are 4 practice tests available on the ETS TOEFL website ( at least one of these tests before you take the TOEFL so you can get used to taking the test on a computer

That is a total of 14 practice tests!


9. Learn how to relax!
You’re probably laughing at this tip, but this is very important! A lot of people find this test quite stressful. Let’s be honest: it’s not an easy test! It is important to remain calm and relaxed throughout the test.

Before the test:

  • If possible, visit the testing centre ahead of time. Make sure you know where you’re going and how long it’s going to take you to get there. The last thing you want to do is get lost or stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the test!
  • Don’t try to ‘cram’ the day before the test. Just relax and rest.
  • Get a good night’s sleep

The day of the test:

  • Eat a good breakfast!
  • Before you leave your house and on your way to the test, make sure you warm up your brain! Reading something in English for 30 minutes (something you have read before – no need to stress yourself out before the test!) and listen to English. Make sure your brain is thinking in English before you start the test!

During the test:

  • Take deep breaths throughout the test. Make sure your breathing is normal.
  • There is a 10-minute break between the listening and speaking sections. Use this time to use the bathroom if you need to, eat a snack, and do some stretching to relieve the tension in your back and shoulders!
  • If you miss a question or you feel like you didn’t do well in a section. Don’t worry about it. Just go onto the next section like it’s a new test. This is where being prepared for the test helps. For example, if you know how many questions you need to answer correctly to get your required score in the reading section, then missing one question is not a problem.

Remember, you can always take the test again!


10. Take the test at least twice, if not more.
No one will ever know your TOEFL score unless you tell them. The university you want to attend won’t know if you’ve taken the test once or 10 times. They will only know the score you tell them. Don’t worry if you get a low score the first time – no one will ever know but you! You can keep taking the test as many times as you need to.

Students rarely get the score they need on the first try. Taking the TOEFL can be a quite shock the first time you try it:

  • The test goes by very, very fast!
  • Some test centres are very large with lots of people taking the test at the same time. There is a lot of noise and a lot of distractions.
  • Someone may have started the speaking section while you are still listening. You might be trying to write an essay while the person next to you is doing the speaking section.
  • You may not be able to get the proctor’s attention to get more paper or to get help with your computer

UPDATE: (April 2014

The FAQ section of the ETS website now says:

… you can retake the test as many times as you wish, but you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test date that is within 12 days of your existing appointment.

This is very important to understand! You can only take the test ONCE in 12 days. If you take the TOEFL, you will have to wait 12 days until you can take the test again! Plan accordingly.


What to expect on test day:


Have you taken the TOEFL? Please share some of your tips in the comments below!


{ 183 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mariam September 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

Hi Melaine,
My TOEFL test is 29\9\2012 I wish to make it.
I am lucky to find your website before the test, thanks a lot dear.
Really, your tips are amazing and have all what I need…
Many thanks, and pray for me.

I will send you my feedback after taking the test


Melanie 2 Melanie October 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’m so thrilled to hear that this helped you! Please let me know as soon as you get your results! = )


3 Teresa September 21, 2012 at 1:40 am

Hello Melanie!

I am also very grateful that I found your webpage…its amazing and it has the key elements to succeed..I studied with it. My test is TODAY Srptember 21st 2012 and hopefully i will be in Canada or the UK in one year. I will let you know how it worked!


Melanie 4 Melanie October 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I’m so happy to hear that you studied with my website! I really hope that it helped you & I can’t wait to hear about your score! = )


5 Andres November 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm

wow, I will be applying for an US university next year and this is an excellent guide for planning the exam. Thanks!!


6 somi December 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I am just wondering if I could be able to do the test on 23:th February, second and the 8:th March, also 3 times in a period of 14 days? And if it is possible, can I ask for my best score-result, reported to the university i wish?
Thank you for your answer.


Melanie 7 Melanie December 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hi, Somi!

You don’t have to report your scores to the university when you take the test. It’s not mandatory. Once you know your scores, you can choose which score you want to send to a university (you will need to pay extra for this).

The TOEFL website says the following:
“You can retake the test as many times as you wish, but you can only take the test ONCE within a 21-DAY PERIOD.”

This change was just announced on Dec. 14, 2012:

If you take the test on Feb. 23, 2013, then you will have to wait until March 17 to take the test again. You cannot take the test 3 times in 14 days.

I hope that helps!
= )


8 hasan January 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm

the date, which i rigesterd is march,02,2013. i’m hopeful to get the best result in my first test. noadays, i’m such a hardworking student who not worring about extra things eccept having 120 out of 120.i’ll post another comment when i lend in my plan.



9 banji February 7, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Hello! This is a great way to help students with their preparations for the test, you are really kind! If I pass this exam I think it will be a real kick in the teeth to a professor of mine who said I am not good enough!


10 Magi February 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hello Melanie. I am so happy that I’ve found your page before taking my TOEFL exam. I should take it on 24 February, but my problem is that I am not self confidence. It’s the first time that I am going to take it. After reading your suggestions I calmed down, and now I feel myself better. Many thanks for your optimism. I’ll definitely follow each step you’ve suggested, and I hope to reach my goals.


11 Sid April 1, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi Melanie,
I am planning to take the TOFEL exam within 2 months from now. I have some decent reading, writing & comprehensive skills with English language and so I am thinking of taking this risk. I know that the university that I am interested in requests 84/120 score and even the individual split-up.
Please let me know if this time will be enough for my preperation?


Melanie 12 Melanie April 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Hi, Sid,

The best thing for you would be to do one of the practice tests:

This will tell you what you need to work on between now & the actual test.

There is no risk in taking the TOEFL! You don’t have to tell the university what your score is until AFTER you get your score. When you register for the test, it asks you to select a university, but you can ignore this. Once you know your official score & you are happy with it, you can send it to the university. What is the deadline for the university? You may be able to take the test more than once before the deadline.

You’ll do fine. Good luck to you!
= )


13 Belma April 1, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Is there any university for master programmes no gre no toefl requires? i reaalyy gave up! :(


Melanie 14 Melanie April 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

If you want to go to a university in an English-speaking country, you have to prove that you can speak, write, and understand English. Most universities require either the TOEFL for ILELTS. I don’t know of any universities that don’t require it.


15 shehnaz April 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm

hi melanie,
i wanted 1 help urg , i am appearing for toefl on 18 may 2013 , and i am actually hunting for practice tests for toefl ibt which can give me an actual experience of appearing toefl ibt and sitting on pc for 4 hrs altogether.

can u just let me know which is the best site, i guess there are lots of but i m getting few short practice tests not full lengths one?


Melanie 16 Melanie April 24, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hello Shehnaz,

There are 4 practice tests available on the ETS TOEFL website

Good luck to you!
= )


17 Mahesh May 6, 2013 at 2:29 am

Hi Melanie,

I kept my date on JUN 15 2013 and got the important tips from this website on reading, listening, writing and speaking tasks.


18 Mahmoud June 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thank you for your advice, It really help me to redirect my study way, I examined this test 10 times during last year, and I could not get the required score (79/120). I don’t have a true friend that could help me or support me, so I study alone. And I don’t have a time to take courses. But, after reading this tips, I feel that I can pass this exam. I’m having exam on 26/7/2013. I will do all your advice and I hope it works this time :)


Melanie 19 Melanie June 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Hi, Mahmoud!

I hope you did well on your test! Please let me know when you receive your score.

= )


20 Natalia June 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Hello Melanie!! I must say that I feel so glad to find your website, because I’m going to take the TOEFL next month, so for me this is so handy. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I’m so nervous, and so stressed, but I know, I will succeed on it. With God’s help and of course, it’s up to me achieve my goal.

God bless you. I hope can share with you and the subscribers about my success. Take care yourself… By the way! I’m from Colombia, so taking this exam is a great challenge for me. =D


Melanie 21 Melanie June 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

All the best to you, Natalia! Practice, practice, practice, and you will do well on the test! Always remember that you can take the test more than once if you don’t get the required score the first time.

Good luck to you! Please let me know when you receive your score!
= )


22 anusha July 1, 2013 at 2:13 am

This Is Very Fantastic Site,It Told Me How To Prepare well And It Gave Me The Good Websites Names..Fabulous Dear..Thank U Very Much….I thought That If U Provide Some More Details About Practicing Then It Will be Good For You Dear…Bye….


23 Rand July 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

Those tips are really great, I wish I had stumbled upon them earlier.
I did my test this morning, I did well but I’m nervous about whether my results will meet the minimum requirements of the universities I’m applying to. I only practiced yesterday, the day before the exam, but I was able to fully understand the type of questions through the samples I did.
Hopefully my results would match my expectations, I’ll make sure to refer friends who are taking it later on to this website, it’s really useful.


24 Noura July 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

your tips have helped me a lot and I have more motivation than ever my test is after 4 days only !! and I hope this time I will get the score that I want
ThanQ u a lot again


Melanie 25 Melanie July 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Good luck to you, Noura! Please let me know how you do on the test.

= )


26 abla July 31, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Hi hope this find you well , i take TOEFL test twice and i didn’t get the score that my school want ,the first time i cant read so fast and the time was go so fast and i was stress , second time i cant hear very well the person next me was talking so loud and he disturp me a lot , am so disappointed , because i cant move to continue my studies without the toefl score , i hope this tipes will help in my third try , and i wish will be the last one , thanks alot for your information , please wish for me good luck


Melanie 27 Melanie August 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Hi, Alba!

The good news is that now you know what you need to work on and what you need to practice!

Did you buy the book I recommended in Tip #2?

1. You need to practice reading with a timer.

2. You need to practice with lots of noise in the background. When you practice the listening section, turn on the TV or the radio.

Good luck to you!
= )


28 soraya August 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Hi, Melanie
Many thanks for the information you have provided. I’ll start to prepare the test next September and I’m wondering if there is any test I can take to check my currently level and also helps me to identify my weak areas?
Thanks very much


Melanie 29 Melanie August 26, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Hi, Soraya!

The official TOEFL website has practice tests that you can take:

These are actual TOEFL tests. You can do a test at home on your computer, and you will receive a score. This will help you know your strong & weak areas.

Good luck to you!
= )


30 Farina August 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Hello Melanie,
Your tips sound very helpful . I am a nephrology nurse and I moved to the USA 9 months ago. The language I speak is Dutch. I need to take this Toefl test in order to get my licensure here. I took the test 3 weeks ago and unfortunately I didn’t get the grades Arkansas require, I scored 77 whereas I need 83 to qualify in order to take the NCLEX. The topics on the test I took were very for me to understand.
Do you have anymore tips for me ?.
I truly appreciate your help.

Kind regards,


Melanie 31 Melanie August 26, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hi, Farina!

Very few people get the required score on the first try. The TOEFL is a difficult test, even for native speakers. The topics are difficult for anyone to understand unless you have prepared extensively for the test.

Can you tell me more about how you prepared for the test? Did you take a course or study on your own? Did you use any textbooks?

= )


32 Wael August 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Hi! , How are you ?
I want to take a few minutes for your time ,please ..

I have studied Civil Engineering (next year I will graduate) and I want to continue master degree , and as you know the universities usually need to high English degree like (TOEFL) ..

I am seriously want to be fluent speaker and listening , I am really have bad mood and fair about this problem ..

some people advise me ” you must watch movies and listening music with lyrics ,, other say ” you must read articles and found the meaning that you don’t know” or “save more meaning in your mind by pat” or “you must live with native speakers people” or “talk English all time of day (but that is not logical to difficulty coexistence” ..

so, help me what the best method to make me very fluently during (8 months only)? .. or what the procedure that I follow? .. I can make a weekly schedule and specialize much hours for English language to perfection this language. I am desirous to do anything and tired to achieve my important goal.
please take my problem as seriously .

sorry for prolongation ,Thank you :)


Melanie 33 Melanie August 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hi, Wael!

It’s important to realize that you are talking about two different goals: a) getting a high score on the TOEFL to study for your Master’s degree; and b) speaking English fluently.

Speaking English fluently does not mean that you will get a high score on the TOEFL. The TOEFL is a difficult test, even for native speakers. You have to prepare for the test.

First, you need to get organized. What university/universities do you want to apply to? What TOEFL score(s) do they require? Are you going to study for the test on your own or take a course? When is the deadline for applying to the universities? What is the last possible date you can take the test?

Second, if you want to be fluent in English in 8 months, you will need to work extremely hard. You will need to create an English-speaking environment for yourself, living your life as if you were living in an English-speaking country. I recommend finding a private tutor who is a native speaker.

Good luck to you,
= )


34 yanela August 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hello Melanie,
I am a food technology engineer, I wanted to go to Germany this year. The language I speak is spanish. I took this Toefl test in order to enter to the university unfortunately I didn’t get the grades hohenheim require, I scored 57 whereas I need 79 to qualify . I want to take again on november, you can tell me some tips to improve the listening part.
I truly appreciate your help.


Melanie 35 Melanie August 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hi, Yanela!

Very few people get the score required on the first try. Now that you know how hard the test is, you need to practice, practice, practice.

Does Hohenheim have requirements for the individual sections? (For example, do you need to get a certain score on the listening section?)

Have you bought the book I recommended ‘Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT: Advanced Skill Practice’? You really need this book if you are going to study for the test on your own. It has a lot of practice activities for the listening section & it also includes practice tests.

What specifically do you need help with in the listening part? Did you run out of time? Is note-taking difficult for you? Do the speakers talk too fast?

= )


36 Nastiti August 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

Hi Melanie.
Thank you so much for writing.
I’m an English tutor from Indonesia. Listening has been a problem for students here, and even for me. So, thank you so much for writing the tips.



37 Ilya September 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

So, dear Melanie, thank you a lot :) you went through the really good job and made us to know what we should expect for. I have taken already 2 tests, which were 59 and 78, also I took another one in prev. friday and hope that its scores will be better) your tips are really helpful. I give you my huge respect and kiss you many many times :) I will let you know about next score :)


38 Mai September 9, 2013 at 6:53 am

Hi, Melanie

Thanks for the tips, i already have the exam, i got only 72!….is it that bad? do i have to make the exam again?

Kindest Regards,



Melanie 39 Melanie September 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Hello Mai,

There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ score on the TOEFL, only a required score! What university are you applying to? What is the required score of the school you want to go to? Once you know that information, you can decide if you want to take the test again.

- take a test [not 'make' a test]

= )


40 Mai September 10, 2013 at 2:29 am

Many thanks Melanie :)


41 Laura September 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hi Melanie,

I took the test this morning for my first time and it was a shock. At least two of four passages of the Reading section were much more difficult than the paper simulations, that I did with my private teacher, and unfortunately all the Listening passages were simply to difficult to follow, full of scientific details, that I had to be able to manage answering the questions..
The program at the college where I’m applying requires a minimum score of 61/120, but I’m getting nervous because the deadline is already the of November, and I’m unfortunately living in a country which is not my home country. For this reason I speak and I hear already another foreign language, while I try to do my best at home practicing English and for the Toefl. I take for granted that today I didn’t achieve the minimum required, so I guess that I will have to do the test again. Please tell me if you have any very good advice to improve listening, especially related to scientific topics, and if you know something against confusion of foreign languages!
Do colleges accept a score report received after the deadline but referring to a test taken in a date prior to the deadline?
Thank you very much in advance!!


Melanie 42 Melanie September 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Hi, Laura,

Unfortunately it appears that your private teacher did not prepare you very well. Which ‘paper simulations’ did you use? Did you use any of the textbooks I recommend? Did you do any of the online tests provided by the TOEFL company at It is so important do to the online practice tests so you can get used to taking the test on the computer.

Not all exam preparation books are equal. Some are much better than others. It should not have been a surprise that the listening passages were full of scientific details. That is common on the TOEFL!

Again, no one ever gets the score they need on the first try. It’s a difficult test & it takes A LOT of practice to get the required score.

*I’m getting nervous because the deadline is already the of November
You have time to take the test again. However, you will have to practice, practice, practice. What is your situation? Can you take time off from work to spend more time practicing for the TOEFL? Can you limit your exposure to the language of the country that you’re living in now? You need to focus on English.
1. Every day read & listen to things from #3
2. Buy the textbook in #2
3. Do all the online tests

To be honest, 61 is not a very high score so you should be able to achieve that with more practice.

*I’m unfortunately living in a country which is not my home country. For this reason I speak and I hear already another foreign language
It is possible to get a high score on the TOEFL while not living in an English-speaking country. Most students who take the TOEFL don’t live in an English-speaking country

* Do colleges accept a score report received after the deadline but referring to a test taken in a date prior to the deadline?
You will have to contact the school directly.

All the best,


43 beku September 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

hi, Melanie,

Thanks for the tips.

While i was searching for that how to prepare for the toefl and get a required score, i found that your ten advice. It seems very very useful. Especially english news like bbc.

Problem is I have no friend who are practicing english. And There are not many native speakers Place where i live in. My effort is i just reading materials related to academic circle. I think it helps all sections but speaking section. I really need to get my speaking skill better. How to do that? I mean, how to speak english? I always shake and panic when i speak english. I sometimes make grammar error, choose wrong word. How to stop that habit?.

Kindest regards,



Melanie 44 Melanie September 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Hi, Beku,

Find an online English teacher! Since you have access to a computer & the internet, you can find an online English teacher who can help you prepare for the TOEFL. Where do you live? You may be able to find an English teacher who lives in your country, but not in your city.

“I always shake and panic when i speak english.’
You need to work on your confidence as well as your English skills.

“My effort is i just reading materials related to academic circle.”
This is not going to help you get a high score on the TOEFL. You need to practice & prepare for the test. Buy the text book I recommend in #2.

In your language, google things like “TOEFL English teacher ” or “private English teacher .” This may help you find a teacher where you live.

Good luck to you!


45 Hursh September 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Hi Melanei

I have my problem with the reading section, please I need your advice on the reading section. I had 23 on the speaking but on the reading 10, a big difference.
Anything would be helpful.

Thank you!


Melanie 46 Melanie September 16, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Hi, Hursh,

What happened in the reading section? Did you run out of time? Were the passages too difficult? Were the questions too difficult?

How did you prepare for the test? Did you use a textbook or take a course? What materials did you use?

The best thing to do is practice. Buy the textbook I recommend in #2. This has an extensive reading section. It explains EVERY type of question you will encounter on the test. It teaches you how to read the passages quickly to help you answer the questions faster. It has lots of practice activities & practice tests.

Good luck to you,


47 Hursh September 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Hi Melanie,

The passage is always is difficult for me and I am a slow reader too. I took a course and did practice with the BARRON’s and ETS books. At the test I don’t read a whole passage and I know all strategies but still low score and always run out of time. I think my problem is I don’t read a lot. Now I just hate the TOEFL lolz. So, what do you think?

Thank you for your respond,


Melanie 48 Melanie September 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Hi, Hursh,

I really recommend the textbook I mentioned in #2. This is by far the best textbook (much better than Barron’s) and the book that I use with my TOEFL students. When you practiced with the Barron’s and ETS books, did you use a timer? This is very important.

Have you thought about taking a TOEFL course or working with a private tutor who specializes in TOEFL? You recognize that you need to focus on something very specific (reading faster). A private tutor can work with you on reading faster.

Unfortunately, you need to read a lot to prepare for the TOEFL! You need to read everything all the time. There is no way around in. The TOEFL is not a fun test!

= )


49 Hursh September 20, 2013 at 11:04 pm


No, I have not used a timer at all when I practiced. Yes, I took twice a TOEFL course. I am going to read everything from now. I do have the DELTA’s book but I have never used it, may be because there is no CD with the book. I think I still can use the reading part, right?

Thanks a lot! :)

50 belma September 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm

hi melanie,

i just wanna know. Now i’am in ESL IV Reading and Writing Classes which is advance level. They said me that i do not need speaking class. I started to study daily 4 hours a day before 1 week. My goal is to attend a graduate class. well, i just need your advise do you think that i can get 80 score till January… I have no idea how far i am to get this score…

many many thanks in advance…


Melanie 51 Melanie September 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Hi, Belma,

Are you “ESL IV Reading and Writing Classes” specifically for the TOEFL? If not, you should wait to take this course. You should take a TOEFL preparation course.

Based on your writing in your comment, you will need to do a lot of studying to get an 80 on the TOEFL:

“They said me that i do not need speaking class.”
= They TOLD me that I do not need a speaking class.

“I started to study daily 4 hours a day before 1 week.”
= A week ago, I started studying 4 hours a day.

“well, i just need your advise do you think that i can get 80 score till January”
= I need your ADVICE. Do you think I can get a score of 80 if I take the TOEFL in January?

Buy the textbook I recommend in #2. This is the best TOEFL preparation book. It has lots of practice activities & practice tests. Before you take the test, take one of the online tests :

Good luck to you!


52 Ahmed September 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi, Melanie,
Thank you so much for your helpful tips. I took the TOEFL twice last year. My last score was 76 while the minimum score requirement of my school is 79. My problem, though, is neither about speaking nor writing. Both my reading and listening were below 20, whereas my Speaking and writing were above 20. I’ve been living in the U.S. for the last 4 years. And when I am speaking with my American friends, they always tell me that my English is very good. I don’t know if they were trying to flatter me but it felt good to hear it. Now I am scheduled for the test in the second week of October. I am using Barron’ ibt as a preparation book. In short, how can I can improve, especially, my listening to lectures, not conversations? I cannot listen and take notes at the same time. I have to sacrifice one for the other. I think I am going to do better on the reading section this time given the extensive efforts that I put on reading books, novels, and NY times.


Melanie 53 Melanie September 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Hi, Ahmed,

Congratulations on getting 76 on the TOEFL!

“I don’t know if they were trying to flatter me but it felt good to hear it.”
Your English is probably very good, but speaking English well with your friends doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to do well on the TOEFL! The TOEFL is completely different from everyday life.

“I cannot listen and take notes at the same time.”
Did you go to university? Do you plan on attending a university in North America? You’ll need to learn how to do this. How did you do well on the 2nd essay in the writing section if you can’t take notes?! You don’t need to write down everything you hear when taking notes. You just need to write down something to help you remember the basic points.

I don’t recommend the Barron’s book. I have not met anyone who has received a high score on the TOEFL using the Barron’s book. The best book to use is the one I recommend in #2, “Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT.” It has extensive practice in the reading & listening sections, as well as tips on how to read faster & how to take notes.

All the best,
= )


54 Word Counter September 20, 2013 at 6:13 am

I am preparing to take the TOEFL exam next week. I am not preparing specifically for TOEFL that much time, but instead I learn English in general. And now I use the knowledge to apply for the TOEFL exam. TOEFL looks so scary to me.


Melanie 55 Melanie September 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm

You need to prepare specifically for the TOEFL! To do well on the TOEFL, you need to know exactly what is on the TOEFL, what is expected of you in each section, what questions you’ll be asked, etc. The TOEFL is a scary test if you don’t know what’s on it!

Prepare & practice, and you’ll do fine.
= )


56 V.L. September 24, 2013 at 3:34 am

Hello, I have a question: they say you can retake TOEFL as many times you wish, but do you have to pay for each retake?


57 Hursh September 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm


Yes, every time you take the TOEFL you pay a full price.

Good luck!


58 Alice October 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Dear Ms. Melanie,

I am applying for a master degree in Law, and I need to get 100 on the TOEFL test. How long do you think that I should prepare myself before taking the test? I will definitely buy the book you recommend in #2, but I am curious about The Pricetown Review TOEFL iBT book 2014, ISBN 978-0-307-94560-0. Is it good?

I have issues with the speaking part since I don’t interact with native speakers that often. Is there any online conversation club that you can recommend to practice english?

Finally, sometimes I have troubles with the prepositions: in, on, at. I don’t know how to use it appropiately. Could you please give me an advice about this?

I’m excited about hearing from you.




Melanie 59 Melanie October 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi, Alice!

First, it’s hard to say how long it will take to prepare without knowing anything about you. Have you ever taken the TOEFL before, either a practice test or the real test? You have to know where you’re at before you can set a timeline to prepare. I generally recommend at least 6 months to a year, but again it depends on your current level. I haven’t seen or read the Princeton Review book, so I can’t comment on whether it’s good enough.

Second, unless you’ve taken the test before, you can’t really say if you have issues with the speaking section. The speaking questions are not just speaking! For some of the questions, you have to read and/or listen AND THEN speak! I don’t recommend joining a conversation club. Did the university specify what score you need in the speaking section? I’m guessing it has to be at least 25 or higher. Speaking with other English learners is not going to help you improve to that standard. You need to take private lessons with a TOEFL tutor. You will need to work accent reduction as well as what strategies & phrases to use when answer the speaking questions. Where do you live?

Third, what specific problems do you have the prepositions? It may just be the case that you need to start paying attention to combinations instead of trying to memorize when to use each preposition. For example, ‘laugh at’ is a verb + preposition combination (“Everyone was laughing at me!”) You cannot use another preposition in that combination and have the same meaning. It’s not a phrasal verb, it’s a collocation. There are also noun+preposition combinations (“The reaction to the play was very negative.”) and adjective+preposition combinations (“I am interested in languages!”). You may start noticing these combinations more & more now. Also, using a online dictionary like or will help you learn these combinations.

I wish you all the best! The TOEFL is not a fun test. It’s a difficult test even for native speakers. It’s unlikely even an average native speaker could get 100 without preparing for the test.

= )


60 Nok October 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi, Melanie,

Thank you so much for such helpful tips you provided. I am from Thailand and need to take TOEFL for my PhD.

I would like to ask for your recommendation on my situation. I took TOEFL 3 times in 3 months and I got 97, 94 and 93 with 20 for listening section. The university I will go for requires 90 scores in total, 22 for each sections and 23 for writing section. As you see from my total score, I meet all the requirements just listening section I cannot make it.

Could you please suggest me what I should do to improve my score? One thing, I got more than 24 everytime I did the test preparation. However, it is just the books not online test provided by ETS, do you think whether or not I should buy the test (in my case).

I read the comment on my score report and it says that I cannot synthesize the content from different parts, I don’t know what it means? Could you plrase suggest me how to do and prepare for next test?

Thank you very much, will wait for your kindly response.



Melanie 61 Melanie October 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Hi, Nok!

First of all, congratulations on getting such high scores on the TOEFL! I know it’s not the score you need, but it is still an achievement!

Can you tell me more about the how you prepared for & how you completed the listening section?
- What book did you use to prepare?
- Did the book you used explain the different types of questions in the listening section & how to answer them?
- Did you have enough time to answer all the questions?
- Were you distracted by all the noise in the test center? Was the person next to you already doing the speaking section?
- Did you have trouble taking notes?
- Did you answer all the questions? When you answered the questions, were you confident with your answer or were you unsure?

Increasing your score to 22 means answering just one or two more questions correctly. If you can tell me more about your experiences, we can try to pinpoint the problem.

For now, try these things: Do some practice activities with the TV or radio on in the background. You will learn not to get distracted by the noise in the test center. Are you using the Delta book I recommend in section #2? It has the most comprehensive explanation of the listening section & extensive practice activities. If you live in a major city & there is a university near you, try to find it in the library university or the library in the city. If not, you can buy it on the internet or at an English bookstore in your city.

I wish you all the best. I know it must be frustrating to only be 2 points away from the score you need.


62 Deb October 15, 2013 at 1:38 am

Hi Melanie!

First of all, you are doing a great job of helping people! God bless you!
I am applying for a masters degree (engg.) in the US. I gave TOEFL iBT recently, got 95 (28-R, 27-L, 22-S, 18-W). 2 weeks before this, I gave my GRE (got 312/340). I did’nt actually prepare for TOEFL.. just saw the pattern & some videos on youtube a day before the actual exam… suffered for it :(. I required min. 100. Im really poor in writing. I become clueless, dont know what to write and the time passes away. Please suggest how to improve…
Will be greatful, thanks!!



Melanie 63 Melanie October 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi, Deb!

First, congratulations on your high score! That’s excellent!

There are many reasons why your writing score is low:
- The writing section is at the very end of a 4 hour exam! It’s a difficult section for everyone. You’re tired & ready to go home, yet you still have to write TWO essays!
- Because you didn’t do any practice tests in advance, your brain was not ready for the writing section!
- You need to learn the North American style of writing essays. It may be a different style than the one you are used in your country.
- Are you poor in writing in your own language? If you don’t write a lot in your own language, then writing in English is even more difficult.

1. During the test, don’t just start writing. Take the first 5 minutes to brainstorm & organize your thoughts. Type everything that comes into your mind related to the topic. Organize your thoughts into a structure: Introduction, Body, Conclusion. Write your essay. Leave 5 minutes at the end to re-read & revise your essay.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Here is a list of sample writing topics for the first essay:
Watch the video above that explains the North American style (Intro, body, conclusion). Try to write your essay while you watch the video so you become comfortable with this style.

3. Find someone to correct your writing. Do you live near a major city? Is there an university or private language school nearby?

4. Do the four online practice tests so that you are not tired by the time you have to do the writing section:

Good luck to you!
= )


64 Deb October 19, 2013 at 1:15 am

Hi Melanie!

Thanks for such a prompt & detailed reply! Im sorry.. I completely forgot to check :P :(… was traveling, anyways I just saw your mail. I went through Nok’s post, we can surely help each other, I’ll start by mailing her. Well.. about the above analysis, you have quite accurately summed up the problems. Yes, its a 4-hour test & it becomes very difficult to concentrate, specially at the close. I suppose I’ll go for practice with some of those sample essays with the video in mind. In the test, I got one somewhat similar to one listed in the pdf:

“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People are
never satisfied with what they have; they always want something
more or something different. Use specific reasons to support your

My native language is Hindi, and I actually have even more writing problems in that. So.. yeah I am doomed :X :D. Lets see if Nok can save me :).

Thanks again for your support Melanie!!


65 Nok October 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

Dear Melanie,

Thank you very much for your answer. I actually baught a number of TOEFL preparation books but not what you suggested (Delta Book). So, I already ordered online and the book will come to my home soon.

I have no problem taking note, I mean I understand the detail what lecturers or speakers talk about; however, I am not certain in answering some questions because those are asking something that is not directly told by the speakers, I think it is a kind of implication? For example, why the lecturer said this “…”, something like that, and when I check the answer, I frequently selected the wrong answer for such kind of question.

After posting my question to you, I tried TOEFL practice online and my score for listening is 26 and my total score is 103, I think now I can guess what part of the lectures or conversations will become the question but I cannot totally get the correct answer.

I will practice more on TPO (more purchase) and Delta Book, I registered to take TOEFL again on 15 December, will let you know the result.

BTW, I saw the message from Deb asking about developing the writing section and I found that he/she got 27 for listening. If it is possible I would like to exchange contact with Deb because I got 29 for writing and I think maybe we can share some experience on how to develop the listening and writing section from each other.

Hello, Deb, please email me at love to discuss with you more on how to develop skill for getting higher TOEFL score.

Thank you again Melanie, and waiting to hear from you, Deb.



Melanie 66 Melanie October 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Hi, Nok!

I will send an email to Deb (just in case she doesn’t see your comment) and let her know that you want to contact her.

“I have no problem taking note, I mean I understand the detail what lecturers or speakers talk about; however, I am not certain in answering some questions because those are asking something that is not directly told by the speakers, I think it is a kind of implication? For example, why the lecturer said this “…”, something like that, and when I check the answer, I frequently selected the wrong answer for such kind of question. ”
- In the Delta book, “why did the lecturer say this …?” is considered ‘Determining Attitude & Purpose.’ It teaches you some key phrases to listen for & to listen to the speakers intonation as well. There are lots of practice activities.
- English learners also find the ‘Making Inferences & Predictions’ questions challenging as well.

All the best to you with your TOEFL studies & taking the TOEFL on Dec. 15. Please let me know if you have any other questions & please let me know how you do!

= )


67 kashan November 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

hello melanie,
I’m very low in vocabulary and grammer and i gave the test a month ago without practicing and i scored 42 and it doesn’t meet the requirement of the college. i’m looking forward to give the test again. Nowadays, i’m practicing with BARRON’S toefl ibt 12th edition. What i want you to ask, is this book really helpful for improving english skills or not?
Please let me know as soon as possible! I’m waiting for your reply.


Melanie 68 Melanie November 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Hi, Kashan!

I don’t recommend using the Barron’s book. I recommend ‘Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT: Advanced Skill Practice.’ The author also has an excellent grammar book, ‘Essential Grammar for the iBT: Delta’s Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test.’

Remember, in English you ‘take a test,’ NOT ‘give a test.’

Good luck to you on the TOEFL!


69 kashan November 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

and which edition do you prefer?


Melanie 70 Melanie November 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm

The newest edition.


71 Omar November 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

Hello Melanie I got 77 out of 120 in my first try, and i prepare 1 month before i take the test, her i read ur tips its very useful for me but maybe from my internet the name of the book didnt appear for me is it Bruce Roger or Barron

I need to take it again to get the score that i need 89 or 90 its to hard for me especially in reading and speaking

thx for ur tips and for ur reply



Melanie 72 Melanie November 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hi, Omar!

First, congratulations on getting 77 on your first try, especially since you only prepared for 1 month!

I recommend ‘Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT: Advanced Skill Practice.’ I don’t recommend Barron’s.

How long do you have to prepare before you take the test again? You will need to practice, practice, practice. I also recommend finding a native speaker in your city to help you with the speaking section.

Good luck!


73 maria November 13, 2013 at 10:57 am

Hi Melanie,
this is an email to thank you because you are doing excellent work! I’ve got to give exams in December of 2014. I’m really happy cause i found your site and it’s really helpful to me. I’m going to give the lower of Michigan. Do you know about that?
well, that’s about me.


Melanie 74 Melanie November 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Hi, Maria! It’s nice to meet you!

When you say, “I’ve got to give exams in December of 2014,” what does that mean? Are YOU going to take the TOEFL?

A teacher GIVES a test (prepares the test for her students; makes the test).
A student TAKES a test.

Are you applying to a university in lower Michigan? Or are you going to take the TOEFL somewhere in lower Michigan?

Good luck to you!
= )


75 Meithy November 24, 2013 at 8:30 am

Dear Melanie,
In January I’ll take a TOEFL course with my teacher. Unfortunately, he teachs TOEFL PBT but many of the universities I wish to entry don’t accept TOEFL PBT, I only read that they accept TOEFL IBT. Do you think it will be useless? Are there some differences between them?

Thanks in advance! All the best.


Melanie 76 Melanie December 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Hi, Meithy!

Yes, there are a lot of differences between them, including the scores! Why is your teacher teaching the PBT? Can you find another course that teaches the iBT? You can try to contact the universities you want to apply to & ask them if they accept the PBT. You should also ask them what score on the PBT they require.

However, you should also check that test centres in your city / the nearest city actually have the PBT. Many test centres have switched to the iBT. You may not even be able to do the PBT.

I strongly advise finding a teacher or course that focuses on the iBT.

Good luck!
= )


77 Enu December 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

Hello Marilyn I would like to say that my toefl date is on January 18/2014 for Finland. but I’m confusing that what is the good tips that will come my score high?
I really need your advice and lessons!! Thank you Marilyn
Yours Enu


Melanie 78 Melanie December 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Marilyn? Who’s Marilyn? : ) My name is Melanie. That’s why my website is called ‘English Teacher Melanie’!

What score do you require? The 10 tips above will help you learn the TOEFL & achieve a high score on the TOEFL.

Good luck!
= )


79 Amruta December 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I just found this article and have read through it!! Thanks to this, now at least I know the pattern of the exam I am giving tomorrow! I know, its just terribly late to start anything..:(….but your article has helped me a lot with some really useful tricks, and if tomorrow, hopefully, everything goes well, I will come back to you with my scores and officially declare this article my “life savior” :D…
Thanks a ton! It made a difference! :)


Melanie 80 Melanie December 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hi, Amruta!

I am so happy to hear that these tips made a difference!

There is one very important thing to remember:
A teacher GIVES a test.
A student TAKES a test.

You are TAKING the TOEFL tomorrow.

Good luck to you!
= )


81 Ophélie December 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

Hi Melanie !

Just a little question, it is said that I can take the toefl once in 21 days. But do I have to pay again for each new trial?

Thanks! that blog is really helpful :)



Melanie 82 Melanie December 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Hi, Ophélie!

Yes, you have to pay every time you take the TOEFL. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive test!

Good luck to you!


83 Zaya January 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Hello Melanie,
I’m a senior year student finishing my bachelor degree in June. I registered to take TOEFL on Jan 12th to apply for master’s degree. I barely had time to prepare for the test because of my busy graduating-student-life. I know I should have given myself enough time to prepare but I had to take the test as soon as possible otherwise I will miss the deadline to apply for schools. I already missed most of the universities!!!

I’ve taken TOEFL before when i was in high school and got a score of 74.
I started to prepare for the test just few days ago and i’m using “Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL test”. I chose this book because it was available in my school’s library and I like the practice tests on its CDrom. It feels like actually taking the test when I do the exercises. i think that practicing over and over just do the work for me and I feel doing tests is more useful than reading tons of heavy books. Also, it’s the quickest way and I have no time left!
The point is that this book was published in 2006, and i’m afraid that there have been changes made to the test since that time. Does using these practice tests make sense?

Also, I’d like to take advise on applying for schools. Is there any chance you know of any school that the deadline is not over and offer financial aids or scholarships for international students?


84 Zaya January 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Oh, BTW, I’m majored in Business


Melanie 85 Melanie January 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Hi, Zaya!

I am terribly sorry that I did not see your comment earlier. I hope that everything went well with your test.

There’s one thing I don’t understand in your comment: Do you know which schools you’re applying to, or are you just going to apply to whatever school will take you? This doesn’t sound like a good plan.

Do you have to do your Master’s degree right away? To be completely honest with you, I think you should wait a year. Research the schools and choose the ones that you most want to attend. Buy an updated TOEFL book & take the practice tests on the TOEFL website.Work towards getting the TOEFL scores those universities require.

Using a book from 2006 is better than nothing, but if you take a year off, you will have more time to use updated books & you will be better prepared.

I wish you all the best!
= )


86 firman January 6, 2014 at 3:13 am

thank a lot for the tips, all of this are very helpfull.


87 Iranda January 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Thanks a lot for the tips. Really it’s very helpful. I have my TOEFL exam in two days (2014-01-18). This is my second time taking the test. I scored 76 marks in my first try. I’m really nervous now. Hope I could score at least 95 this time.

Thank you again.. You are doing great job here :)


88 Barbara January 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm


I did the test for the first time today and I’m already looking for new tips and recommendations to improve my scores because I don’t think I was able to achieve the general score required to get my master’s degree, namely, 100. I started preparing for the test after I was admitted at a university in Switzerland (classes are taught in English), so if I could give an advice is: get all the documentation you need, including English proficiency tests, before applying for a graduate program! I got really nervous during the test thinking that I could lose everything I accomplished by failing it. I still have time to do it again, but I’m definitely hiring a tutor this time and concentrating in the speaking session that is usually the most difficult for Brazilians (my nationality).

I just wanted to share my experience and to congratulate you for the initiative. This was definitely the best blog I saw about the TOEFL iBT: everything is clear, simple and well organized. Thanks for everything and fingers crossed for my next attempt!

Best regards,



89 Barbara January 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm

* if I could give an advice it would be


Melanie 90 Melanie February 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Barbara! This is excellent information for everyone.

You put so much pressure on yourself! If the university already accepted you without your TOEFL score, that means they really want you! I don’t think they will kick you out if you don’t get 100.

Your English is very good & I believe that by working with your tutor you will be able to achieve a score of 100!

Best of luck to you on your next attempt!
= )


91 massimiliano January 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

HI Melanie,
I listened that in the first part it may be 5 readings in 80 minutes and one of them is not evaluated by the raters. do you know if this is true? I knew that for every passage you have 20 mins. Thank you.



Melanie 92 Melanie February 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Hi, Massi!

This is partly true. When you take the TOEFL, you will have to do 3 or 4 reading passages. You might have to do 4, but the person sitting next to you might only have to do 3. If you have to do 4, only 3 will be included in your final score, and you will not know which ones! You must do your best on all 4.

You must watch the timer carefully. For one reading passage you only have 20 minutes. For the next two reading passages you have 40 minutes IN TOTAL to do both reading passages. That’s why you need to watch the timer carefully!

Best of luck to you,
= )


93 Bobo February 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I don’t know how to express my thanks to you, only say thank you very much is not enough.
I’m preparing for the TOEFL test I’ve planed to take it in June.


94 Mandy February 6, 2014 at 1:59 am

Hello! Thank you for this great post. When you say ”
This is by far the best and most up-to-date textbook available”, there’s no link available to the book.


Melanie 95 Melanie February 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Hi, Mandy!

Are you reading this on a phone or tablet? On a desktop computer, the link is the picture of the book, on the left.

= )


96 Jay Dee February 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I’m an English teacher in Bogota,Colombia and I’m here designing a TOEFL course. I’m grateful that you’ve taken this amount of time,discipline, and dedication for this blog. It has been very helpful and it will be my number 1 source for my students to use and get their tips in order to reach their goals.

Thank You Greatly,


97 Bora February 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Dear Melanie,

I got 89 points in the Toefl test. Actually I need 90, do you think I will be excluded for just 1 point?


Melanie 98 Melanie February 19, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Hi, Bora!

First, congratulations on scoring 89 on the TOEFL! Well done!

I can’t say if you’ll be excluded or not because I don’t know your situation. Did you take the TOEFL to study at an English-speaking university? A university in your country or another country? What is the rest of your application like? Did you get good grades in school? There are so many factors!

Best of luck to you,
= )


99 Jaya February 26, 2014 at 9:42 am

Hi Melaine,

Great tips! I found this article very helpful. I have around 2 months for my TOEFL test and I’m really good in English. I just need a bit of brushing up. Do you think 2 months would be enough to get a good score (100+)? What kind of practice should I undertake? Currently, I own the official TOEFL books. Are there other books I could use? :)


Melanie 100 Melanie February 26, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Hi, Jaya!

Best of luck to you on the TOEFL! The most important thing is to do as many practice tests as possible! This test is difficult even for native speakers, so you need to be as prepared as possible. Four and a half hours is a long time, and you need to do the test as many times as possible to get used to it. Do the practice tests in the DELTA book as well as the practice tests on the TOEFL website.

All the best,
= )


101 Alezio March 3, 2014 at 5:08 am

Hi Melanie! Thanks for these really useful tips! I’ve been preparing for the TOEFL test several weeks but there’s still something that is baffling me. Some people say using “In this set of material” in the integrated task is a must while other people say it is not appreciated anymore by examiners. What’s your opinion on that?



Melanie 102 Melanie March 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Hi, Alezio,

It’s necessary to say “In this set of material.” I have never taught that to my students, nor have I heard anyone recommend that phrase.

= )


103 Altamash March 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Hello Melanie
I got my toefl score today after two months
My toefl score : 81 (R:21,L:22,S:20,W:18)
I’m shattered now,this simple test I couldn’t pass
could you help me in my writing part please madam


Melanie 104 Melanie March 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Hi, Altamash!

First, congratulations on taking the TOEFL & getting a score of 81! That is not a bad score!

Second, IT IS NOT A SIMPLE TEST!!! Whoever told you that this was a simple test was very, very wrong.

Third, there is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ on the TOEFL.

What score do you want or need to get? Specifically, what score do you need to get on the writing section? When are you taking the test again?

= )


105 Altamash March 13, 2014 at 2:07 am

Hi again,Madam,
Look maam the university I’m applying require a minimum TOEFL socre of 79 but they mentioned student scoring 96 are more likely to get in there.
However I still need to work on my written english as GRE is on my to do list.
I think my grammer section is far too weak because in( reading-listening) section I’ve mentioned and contrast all the point from (reading-listening) still got fair result!!!!!


Melanie 106 Melanie March 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm


1. You don’t need to call me Madam or Ma’am! I have introduced myself as English Teacher Melanie, and I use Melanie on this website, so you can just call me Melanie!

2. When you are asking someone for help, never start with “Look, ma’am.” This is very rude.

3. You need to get a score of 96, so you need to improve your score by 15 points, or approximately 4 points in each section. When is the deadline to apply to the university? When is that last possible date you can take the TOEFL again?

In your situation, the best thing to do is find a local tutor who specializes in the TOEFL, or an English school that offers a TOEFL course. You have a lot of work to do to reach 96!

4. If your goal is to get 96 on the TOEFL, I wouldn’t worry about the GRE right now. Preparing for the TOEFL takes a lot of time & effort.

All the best,


107 Altamash March 14, 2014 at 2:45 am

Hello,since you’re teacher no matter how old you are,I’ve never called any of my teacher by their name……. it’s unethical!!!!!
I’m sorry for that rude languange and thanks for correcting me and as far as TOEFL is concern I’ll take GRE now and if my GRE score is good ,probably then I won’t need to retake TOEFL…
Again thanks very much Madam (malanie),Goodbye


Melanie 108 Melanie March 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm

This is an important cultural lesson, Altamash!

In English-speaking countries, you call your teacher the name that they introduce themselves as! Do not call your teacher ‘Teacher,’ or ‘Madam.’ Please do not call me Madam! This is not a name that you use to speak to a teacher! In English-speaking countries, if you call someone ‘Teacher’ or ‘Madam,’ it means that you can’t be bothered to learn her name.

All the best to you with the GRE & TOEFL,


109 Samaneh March 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Hi dear Melanie,
is there any special comment for writing skill. i am weak in this skill and i want to rise my ability in it. is there some suggestion for?
Thanks a lot


Melanie 110 Melanie March 17, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Hi, Samaneh!

The best thing to do to improve your writing skills on the TOEFL is to work with a private tutor. A private tutor can read & correct your essays and tell you what you need to work on.

Do you live in or near a major city? Do you live near any private English schools with teachers who are native-speakers? Do you live near a university? These are places where you can look for a private tutor. You can also look for a private tutor online!

Good luck to you!


111 Douglas March 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Hi Melanie,
I’m Douglas from Ghana. I would be taking the test next week saturday, which is 29th March, 2014. I have been reading how you explain certain details to test takers. I would also need your help to equip me fully for the test. I hope to get a mail from you. A quick summary will do. This’s my 1st test and i’m looking to score 115.


Melanie 112 Melanie March 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Hi, Douglas!

Since you only have 12 more days to prepare for the test, you need to practice the test as much as possible. It’s a 4 1/2 hour test & people get very tired by the end of it. Do the practice tests on the ETS website: You will get a score. The score will tell you what areas you need to focus on (reading, listening, speaking, writing).

I don’t think you’re going to score 115 on your first try. You will need to score 29/30 in each section. That is very difficult to do if you’ve never taken the test before. Once you have taken the practice test, you can compare your score to the score you need.

I think you should plan to take the test at least 2 or 3 more times.

Good luck to you!


113 saad March 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Hi melanie i managed to get a 89 on the toefl test ibt, but i have a problem , my school is demanding at least 22 on the writing part but unfortunately i only got 16 due to keyboard issue ,how can i fix this ,should i pay for others mistakes (test center),what are my choices,and should i retake the test ?
demanding further clarrification as soon as possible.
thank you in advance for your cooperation
PS:great website keep doing the good work ;)


Melanie 114 Melanie March 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Hello Saad,

First, congratulations on taking the TOEFL and getting a score of 89!

Regarding the keyboard issue, did you report this immediately to the people at the test centre? They should have found you another keyboard or helped to correct the situation immediately.

You can contact ETS (the company the produces the TOEFL) and explain what happened:
Section: After the test
Phone: 1-800-353-8570 (United States and Canada) or 1-609-406-5430 (all other locations)

Also, here is some more contact information about your region:

Unfortunately, I suspect that too much time has passed, since you already have your score. You may not be able to cancel your score or get your money back.

You should definitely take the test again. If you have any problems, speak to the test centre immediately.

Good luck!


115 Ahmad April 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Hi melanie,

I did my toefl exam two weeks ago, and i got 89. My school asking for a minimum 92. Do you think taking the exam again with the same preparation i had will give the 92?
Second, the school told me that, they will consider the latest one only, are they able to know all my scores?

Thank you


Melanie 116 Melanie April 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Hi, Ahmad!

Congratulations on taking the TOEFL & scoring an 89! The school will only know your scores if you tell them your scores. When you registered for the test, did you specify the schools that you wanted your scores sent to? You don’t have to. You can send your scores after the test (for a fee).

I don’t think it will be difficult to score a 92 on your next test. I definitely think you should take the test again. How did you prepare for the test? Did you use a textbook or take a course? Did you do any practice tests?

= )


117 Ahmad April 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Actually i didnt prepare for the test, i watched some you tube videos for two or three days only. Do you advice me to do more than this for the comin exam?


Melanie 118 Melanie April 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Yes, you should do much more than that to prepare for the 2nd exam. Read the tips in this post. Buy the books I recommend. Do the practice tests. Your score will improve.

Good luck!


119 Jin Ju April 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Hi Melanie!

Wow! You’re still receiving comments on a post from over two years ago!
Thanks for the great info. and advise.
I’m new to the Toefl and I have a question about the listening section.
I’m not sure if you could answer it, but I hope you can! :D
Does the listening section of the test include a transcript of what is being said?
My guide book does but I’m not sure if the actual test will. :/
Thanks again! I’m so glad to have landed on this site! =)


Melanie 120 Melanie April 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Hi, Jin Ju & welcome!

The listening, speaking & writing sections do not include any transcripts of what is being said. You need to listen carefully!

Best of luck to you on the TOEFL,


121 Jin Ju April 21, 2014 at 4:01 am

Oh okay :) Thank you! It’s good to be informed…
Sorry for the late reply!


122 Roberta April 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Hi Melanie,
I scored 93. I want a University that requires at least 100 as a score. I’m worried that if I take another test I’ll get a score lower than 93. If this happens, can I still use my 93 score or I’ll need to use the lower score?


Melanie 123 Melanie April 24, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Hi, Roberta!

Universities don’t know your score until you tell them. As long as when you registered for the test you didn’t tell ETS where to send your scores, they will never know how many times you took the test or what your scores were. After the test, you can pay ETS to send whichever score to the university.

Good luck!
= )


124 Rami April 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Hi Melanie
I took the Toefl test multiple times. Reviewed ETS toefl books and some other books related to the test. I always failed my spoken and reading. They all required good scoring . like 26 for spoken and 21 for reading. I got a coach and she herself is wondering why I can not pass since she can completely understood me and followed what ETS required.
Last year I passed the writing , listening and reading except for the spoken. speaking score was 24 and I asked for reconsideration but they declined it. I was talking to a friend and hers was reconsidered. Now she is reviewing for her pharmacy board exam. how fair are the people who are rates or grade?
I don’t know what to do. I found your website . hope it helps. but I am very disappointed already and can not pursue my dreams being a pharmacist in this country. I am a technician , American citizen and working with pharmacist who are a graduate here but their English is much worst. why they allowing the criteria of giving difficulty to us while they are not taking care of their graduates.


Melanie 125 Melanie April 24, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Hi, Rami!

Getting a high score on the speaking task is not just about your pronunciation, it’s also about how well you organize your answer to the question. You may speak English well in terms of pronunciation, but you could be answering the question incorrectly. I do notice some minor grammatical errors in your comments, so grammar could be a problem in your spoken answers. It’s hard to say without being able to hear your responses.

Whatever you do, don’t give up! Keep going!

= )


126 Sanne April 10, 2014 at 11:22 am


Just want to share some tips/experience from my TOEFL-tests ( I have taken four), scoring from 70 (first time) to 93 (last time).

- READING SECTION: Don´t read the reading passages too closely at first, just skim through. You will be able to see the text while answering question afterwards. The first times I used far too much time reading the passage, trying to understand each and every word, which lead to lack of time at the end of the section.

- LISTENING SECTION: Do not write down too much information at the paper sheet. This can keep you distracted. Just write down key words. I also thought it helped looking away from the screen (picture of classroom etc) which draw my attention away from listening closely enough, and focusing at what was going on in the picture instead (and yes, I am a typically day dreamer, who easily loose attention).

- SPEAKING SECTION: I actually got quite shy when I was speaking, thinking of what the other people will think about my pronunciation and how I handled the task. Don´t care, you will probably never see them again anyway. And also: write down short key words at the part when you listen first and then reply by speaking, you will have to use some of the same words used in the conversation.

- WRITING SECTION: Leave at least 5 minutes to check for spelling errors.

I´m taking the 5th and (hopefully) the last TOEFL-test in a month, trying to achieve a score of 100, which is required for admission. I really hope it goes well, as this is the number 1 university for me, and this is the last chance this year.

Thanks Melanie, for providing such good service :-) I bet your students are really found of you.


Melanie 127 Melanie April 24, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experience & tips, Sanne!

= )


128 Na April 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I want to retake toefl and want to know how long should i wait for retaking it? it says here i need to wait 21 days but I called EST and they told me 12 days i really need the accurate amount!


Melanie 129 Melanie April 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Thank you for letting me know! I have checked the TOEFL website & the FAQ section now says 12 days. They have changed the policy since the last update in December 2012. I have updated the post.


130 Andy May 1, 2014 at 5:27 am

Hey Melanie,
I am taking the toefl test sometime in may (which is this month) and I’ve never taken a test before. Do you think I would be able to make it? I had a practice test for reading section from ETS Disk but my score was 60% even though I tried my best :( . Please help me! I am trying to apply to phillips academy (Andover) for grade 9. But I don’t think I will be able to make it…
I would appreciate it if you can help me

Thank you so much!


Melanie 131 Melanie May 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Hi, Andy!

The TOEFL scores are not given as percentages. The scores for each section are out of 30, with a total score of 120.

What score does Phillips Academy require on the TOEFL? You need to know this. I think you can do if you dedicate yourself to preparing for this test. You need to educate yourself on the structure of the test & study hard for it. You need to do as many practice tests as possible. I recommend students prepare to take the TOEFL twice, because very few people get the score they need on the first try. When do you have to send your score to Phillips Academy?

Good luck to you!
= )


132 Ivon May 21, 2014 at 9:47 am

Hi Melani…
I have big problems with my reading skill. First, I try to understand every single word from a reading, and I cant avoid doing that; any suggestion? Second, when the test asks me about a word meaning, how can I choose the correct option, please I need help!!!


Melanie 133 Melanie May 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Hi, Ivon!

You are not alone! This is a problem that many English learners have when they are preparing for the TOEFL. You just have to practice! I promise you that it gets easier with practice.

Do you have any TOEFL textbooks? In the DELTA book that I recommend above has excellent tips on how to prepare for the reading section.

Good luck to you!
= )


134 Tanja May 21, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I signed in for the TOEFL at friday. Afterwards, I recognized that I had to fill in a seperate sheet, if i need medical devices during the test. I am a diabetic and i only need some glucose drops and a blood sugar meter. I didnt think it would be a problem to take it with me. What do you think?
The toefl organisation only told me to cancel the test and register with the application for health related blabla. This is expensive! So i decided not to do that and keep my old registration. I hope the supervisor is fair and let me go in with my device …


Melanie 135 Melanie May 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Hi, Tanja!

I have never experienced this with a student before, but here is my advice to you:

1. Call or visit the testing centre right away. Speak to the people at the testing centre & explain your situation.

2. Do you need to have the glucose drops & blood sugar meter with you while you take the test? Every test center has a place to store bags / any belongings you bring with you. There is a 10 minute break between the listening & speaking section. (

Let me know how it goes! Good luck!
= )


136 Tanja May 24, 2014 at 6:00 am

Test is over :)
It was no problem to take my device to my seat. The supervisor was fair :)
I think that the toefl has many strict terms to consider that are useless, tough.
To give an example:
- the old problem with the blood sugar meter; I cannot see that there is a problem as shown on the homepage
- why are people not allowed to take their drinks to their seats(?!)
- before the test I had to manually copy 3 or 4 lines of a text that says I would agree to certain terms –>handwritten? Never had to do this before
- while I was still doing the listening section, someone started to talk next to me; a sudden interruption of my listening attention :/ you should be prepared!
- the funniest and strangest thing at the end of the test: I was asked if I want to record my score or cancel it now; I hope nobody will hit the wrong button by accident

Good luck to all the other participants :)


Melanie 137 Melanie June 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Hi, Tanja!

Congratulations on finishing the TOEFL! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with everyone. I think this information is so useful.

“- before the test I had to manually copy 3 or 4 lines of a text that says I would agree to certain terms –>handwritten? Never had to do this before”
~ I have never heard of this! What terms did you have to agree to?

“- while I was still doing the listening section, someone started to talk next to me; a sudden interruption of my listening attention :/ you should be prepared!”
~ This is very common. You had to do more reading or listening passages than the person next to you.

= )


138 Maninder May 28, 2014 at 11:54 am

I took the Toefl Test once couple of days ago and I scored 78 on the test. I did bad on my reading and listening section. My speaking and writing was pretty good(above 20). I would like to have some tips how to get a score above 20 in reading and listening sections.


Melanie 139 Melanie June 2, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Hi, Maninder!

Congratulations on finishing the TOEFL & getting a good score! I’m sorry to hear that it is not the score you wanted.

How did you prepare for the test? Did you take a course or use a textbook?

Were you surprised by your reading & listening scores? What did you have the most trouble with in these sections?

= )


140 Paul Oliver May 31, 2014 at 2:32 am

Dear Melanie,

I just wanted to thank you for all the amazing tips, links and advice for the TOEFL iBT prep. I currently teach the TOEFL here in Jiangxi, China and have found your website to be an invaluable resource for my students and my lesson plans. You have taken the mystery out of the test instilling us all with confidence!

Warm regards from all of us here at Linchuan 1st Middle School of Jiangxi.
Paul Oliver


Melanie 141 Melanie June 2, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words, Paul! I am so thrilled to hear from another teacher and I am so happy that this post has helped you!

In Canada, we do not have to take a test to enter university. I think we are very spoiled! I can only imagine how stressful it is for students not only to take a test, but a test in another language! I hope that I can make it a little easier for them.

I wish everyone at Linchuan 1st Middle School of Jiangxi all the best with their English studies!
Kind regards,


142 Lara June 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Hi Do you retake for free?


Melanie 143 Melanie June 18, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Hi, Lara!

Unfortunately, no. If you want to take the TOEFL again, you will have to pay for it.

Good luck to you!
= )


144 Polat June 17, 2014 at 3:57 am

Hi Melanie !
I am going to take the test this Saturday and I’m aiming to get a 100/120.
I just seem to lose confidence when selecting the answers in the reading part. I choose the right one and then replace it with a wrong answer ! Can you please give me an advice or something ?


Melanie 145 Melanie June 18, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Hi, Polat!

Best of luck to you on the TOEFL this Saturday! If you know that you choose the right answer but then replace it with a wrong answer, don’t replace your answer! Choose your answer and then go on to the next question. Don’t second-guess yourself!

= )


146 Anusha June 19, 2014 at 6:47 am

Hi Melanie,
I am so confused between TOFEL and IELTS.
What do you suggest on this?


Melanie 147 Melanie June 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Hi, Anusha!

It all depends on your goals! Do you want to study at an English-speaking university, especially one in the U.S. or Canada? Do you want to immigrate to an English-speaking country? Do you need to take a test for work or school?

A university or company will generally tell you which test they require & what score. Many embassies or immigration departments will also tell you which test is required and what score.

Both tests are good tests & require a lot of studying and preparation.

= )


148 Anusha June 20, 2014 at 2:00 am

Thanks Melanie !!


149 fizza June 19, 2014 at 10:33 am

i have already taken the toefl test and i was quite weak in reading.I am taking this test again on 21st of June 2014. This time I am fully sure that I can pass this test. Your tips are very helpful. Will tell you my toefl score as soon as possible..take care


Melanie 150 Melanie June 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Best of luck to you, Fizza!

= )


151 Shrinivas June 21, 2014 at 4:11 am

Hi Melanie ,
I am taking my GRE test on 28th August 2014, can i prepare for TOEFL simultaneously and take the test near that date. Please tell me your personal opinion on this.

and thank you for such a helpful information.


Melanie 152 Melanie June 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Hi, Shrinivas,

I don’t think that’s a good idea. The two tests are completely different. I would take the GRE first, then start preparing for the TOEFL and take the TOEFL 3-6 months afterwards.

Good luck!


153 mikhail July 4, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Hey Melanie…

Your website and the resources helped me a ton. I am Russian and my english skills truly sucked when I took the Toefl for the first time. I scored a measly 94. I was scared, went late …etc…. Then I found your website, stuff from app store and studied hard for 6 months…and scored a 118 !!!!.
Thanks a lot. Now I can apply to the ivy league colleges for undergrad. Thank you so much.


Melanie 154 Melanie July 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Wow, Mikhail! Great work!

Congratulations on completing the TOEFL & getting such a high score! I wouldn’t call 94 a ‘measly’ score. People would kill to get a 94!

All the best to you with your university applications,
= )


155 Roopali July 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm


I am glad I came across your site.

I needed a little advice, I took the TOEFL twice recently and am unable to get a score over 20 or 21 in the listening. My school requires a score of 25 and aboe. I do well on the speaking and writing 28, 29 and ok onreading 23, 26. How can I do well on the listening. I have a problem focusing on the listening sections and the attentn. Can you help please.
Surprisingly, I took the TOEFL in 2006 and 2010 and I had very high 28, 26 listening scores those times.


Melanie 156 Melanie July 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm


This is very interesting, Roopali! You got very high scores in the speaking & writing sections – and both the sections require listening skills! So, you’re listening is fine in the speaking & writing sections.

What is the problem in the listening section? Are you able to answer all the questions? Do you run out of time before you finishing the section? Do you take good notes? Do you have difficulty with the conversations or the lectures?

: )


157 Roopali July 7, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Hi Melanie,

Thankyou for the prompt reply.

The first time when I scored 20, I did not preapare fr the test.

The second time I got 21, but the last passage I was thrown off because of distraction and was unable to complete all qustions, 2 of them I did not even see. This time I had practiced ETS listening and Kaplan CDS for 1 week before the test.
Additionally, both the times I took the test, I was unable to sleep the night before the test.
I did take notes, I don’t know if they were the rightr type to take.
I feel my mind wanders away in between the lectures or its the applied type and rhetorical qustions I fail on.
I wantto take it again on the 26th of this Month, can you please help me, this is so critical for me as I cannot move forward till I score well on the TOEFL, my academy requires 25 on listening, 23 on reading and 22 on writing and speaking. I am good at English and I am shocked at my listening scores. Now I feel scared onf the listening section.

Thanks for this awesome site.

I have been practicing from Barrons book and I cam across your site the day I wrote to you.
Do you think its OK if I take the TOEFL in 20dfays from today, given that I will study for it minimum 2-3 hours a day



158 Roopali July 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm




159 Roopali July 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Hi Melanie,

I would be grateful if you would be able to let me know if I can take any paid lessons you had to improve your listening score.


Melanie 160 Melanie July 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm

OK! So, here’s what you need to do:

1. Get your hands on the Delta book I recommend in the post above – Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT: Advanced Skill Practice. Don’t worry about the other books (Barron’s, Kaplan, etc.). Delta is the best & the most comprehensive.

2. When you do practice exercises, play music or turn the TV on in the background. You need to get used to distractions. The person next to you may get his 10-minute break & then start on the speaking section while you are still on the listening section.

3. To go from a 21 to a 25, you just need to answer 3 more questions correctly. You mentioned specifically the applied type and rhetorical questions. The Delta book has extensive practice with these types of questions.

4. You need to spend more time listening to lectures about art, literature, history, economics, etc. One of my students was an engineer, and he really enjoyed listening to NPR:
VOA is interesting as well:

5. On the day of the test, listen to English & read English for at least 30 minutes before you leave your house for the test. On the way to the test, listen to an English radio station (if there is one in your area with native English speakers), listen to English music, or anything, just to get you brain working & thinking in English before the test.

You can do it! Just 3 more questions and you’ll have 25/30!

All the best,
= )


161 Roopali July 12, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Thankyou for that wonderful advice Melanie.

Also how many days of practice do you think I need before I can take a date for TOEFL.
I shall go ahead and do all you have suggested.

Also one last question, both the times I took TOEFL recently I was unable to sleep the night before, is there anything you would suggest on that account.
Thanks and you are the best teacher.

162 atif July 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm

i attend toefl class.


163 Roopali July 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Hi Melanie,

I have been able to get a copy of the 2005 edition of Delta’s Key ro the Next Generation TOEFL Test, Advanced Skill practice for the IBT. Will this work else I will go ahead and order the 2011 edition you suggested, as I cantget that edition in Omaha, I will order it from Amazon, but that sometimes takes a week or more to arrive as has happened with some other books I have ordered..


164 yara July 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm


My toefl Ibt test will me at the end of this month , so i only have about one week for preparation and i am not willing to study using books , any suggestions for a quick preparation as the required score is minimum 75 .


Melanie 165 Melanie July 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Hi, Yara,

“so i only have about one week for preparation and i am not willing to study using books , any suggestions for a quick preparation as the required score is minimum 75 .”

Start praying for a miracle.

= )


166 Ines July 23, 2014 at 10:04 am

Hi Melanie,
I am taking the TOEFL test in some few weeks to come. And, I would like to ask you if there is an easy way I can prepare for it in two weeks and score 100 scores(IBT)?


167 tlkreddy July 24, 2014 at 2:44 am

Hi Melanie,
I took my TOEFL test and got a very low score of 69 which is not at all enough to apply to the universities I prefer to.I have a problem regarding reading and listening sections which I have scored below 20.So Iam planning to retake my test.Kindly suggest me the ways so that I could gain maximum score.


168 Nayab July 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Hey Melanie ,
Just wanted to thank you for ur very Useful information and ofcourse the sources u have mentioned !!!! it is awesome to find ur website . thanx for helping people to get there !! :)


169 Roopali Yadav August 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Hi Melanie,

I have my test this Saturday, and this time I feel very well prapared after following your tips.
I shall let you know my scores after the test.

thankyou for your help and this site.



170 Mariam August 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Hi Melanie,
My name is Mariam I am a foreign pharmacist from Lebanon who is looking to have my license transfer to the U.S and this involves taking the pharmacy equivalency exam as well as taking the toefl exam. I already did the fpgee exam and did very well on it however I have been having trouble on the toefl exam especially on the speaking I can’t seem to get more then a 20 and I need a 26 in order to pass. If there is any advice that you can give me I am very desperate to find the solution. I greatly appreciate your time and help. Thank You.


171 Razan August 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Hi Mrs. Melanie ,
Thank you very much for your helpful tips
My test is on 30/8/2014, It’s my first TOEFL ibt test and I am very scared because my English language is not good. I hope I’ll get a good score


172 Kristia September 3, 2014 at 2:10 am

Hi Melanie,

I took the TOEFL test on 23 August and my score was 91. However I need to meet mba requirement at least 100 and for competitive level at 110.

I only practiced using ETS material 2 weeks before the test and I wonder if the Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT will make improvement to my score? Or I just stick with ETS.

And for speaking skills, I notice during the test there were so noisy and the starting time of speaking for each of us was not the same. Do you have any tips if in the future test I would face same situation again? and is accent really that matter? and also if voice loudness also being marked? I felt my voice was too soft.

Thanks for your help :)


Melanie 173 Melanie September 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Hi, Krisita!

First, congratulations on achieving such a high score! I know it is not the score that you wanted, but it is still a great score.

The ETS materials are not enough. I highly recommend the Delta material. It explains each section in great detail, and also explains each type of question you will see on the test. Nothing should be a surprise when you sit down at the computer to take the test.

You will face the same situation again. That’s the way the test is structure. Some test takers will do extra reading passages. Some test takers will do extra listening passages. You may still be listening when other people are speaking. One way to get used to this is to do practice tests with the radio or the TV on in the background.

The people scoring your speaking tasks don’t care if you have an accent as long as they can clearly understand you. If you have a slight accent, it will not affect your score. If they scorer cannot understand what you are saying because of your accent, it will affect your score.

I don’t think the volume of your voice matters since you are speaking into a microphone. The scorer is more concerned with your level of English.

All the best to you!


174 saad September 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Hi Melanie, this is me again ,the last time I took the toefl ibt test it was a nightmare ,the keyboard wasn’t working properly …but I managed to get 89,but 89 it’s not enough to get into an ivy league so i had chosen a different pathways I choseed to be in a prep school (french educational system) which will alow me to integrate the best business schools in Paris. Even though I still believe that an american education is more beneficial to me ,as a result I didn’t lost hope and I still want to have an mba from an ivy league .
So the question that arises ,does a period of two year enough for getting prepared for retaking the toefl ibt test and hopefully this time scoring more atleast 107 ,knowing that I will do an advanced english course in the british council for two years .
thank you in advance for your help .


Melanie 175 Melanie September 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Hello again Saad!

If it is your goal to get an MBA from an American Ivy League school, why are you wasting your time going to a French prep school and doing an advanced English course at the British Council? Neither of those things will help you reach your goal.

To improve your American written & spoken English, you need to work with an American native speaker, specifically one who will correct your mistakes & tell you what you need to do to improve. You should take a course to help you prepare to get a higher score on the TOEFL.

Do you live in or near a major city? Contact private English schools that focus on American English. Is there an American university in your city? Do the Ivy League schools you want to attend have English as a Second Language programs? You could study English for a year or two at the university you want to attend, then apply to the MBA program.

Good luck!


176 Marie September 13, 2014 at 7:38 am

Hello Melanie,
I’m going to take the test in two weeks and started studying a few days ago, do you think this is going to be enough time? I’m so nervous even though I already lived in the States for half a year. Thank you in advance for your response and for this extremely helpful website! :)


Melanie 177 Melanie September 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hi, Marie,

It’s impossible to say if this is enough time! What score do you need? Have you taken the test before? Have you done any practice tests? Are you planning to take the test again?

Good luck to you!


178 yogesh gandhi September 13, 2014 at 10:49 pm

hello Melanie,
well how my time i can give TOEFL exam and for every try i need to pay full amount again or it’s just one time payment for whole year ?
thanks in advance


Melanie 179 Melanie September 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Hello Yogesh,

You need to pay the full amount every time to you take the test.

Good luck!


180 Maxim September 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hello, my name is Maxim. I plan to apply for MBA program. I started with 84 in May. My current result is 103 (27;28;26;22). I passed TOEFL several times. However, I need 105-108. The critical point in my TOTAL result is Writing section. I got 21-22 all the time. For now I am confused. I have no idea what to do next and how to improve my writing scores.


Melanie 181 Melanie October 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm

This must be so frustrating for you Maxim!

Congratulations on getting such a high score on the TOEFL! That’s outstanding! I am sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier.

Are you working with a private tutor or taking a course? The best thing to do now is work with a native speaker. Do you live in or near a major city? Do you know any native English speakers? Do you live near a university?

All the best,


182 Parag Sachdeva October 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

Hey,Melanie. (:
This is Parag from India, really glad to see someone who is wholeheartedly helping students achieve their aim of getting into one of the greatest universities of the world. And its sort of sublime for me to learn that you most of the time manage to reply to each and every comment of ours. Well, Thanks a ton for that!
Anyways, I also have a couple of questions for you :-
1.) I’m gonna give the TOEFL ibt in the month of December and I’ve 45 days only to prepare for it. I’m also going for the SAT in the same month,and I’m well prepared for that stuff. So,i wanted to get your views about my preparations and plannings such as: should I go for a particular section like reading at a time or the other way round?
2. Which part of those 4 should i most focus on? And some other FAQ’s
In my view,my best scoring parts for the TOEFL goes like, reading, listening, writing, speaking.
I applied your tricks for the reading section of the TOEFL and often got a score more than 80 %.
To be Terse, I bother you to tell me some quick tricks to crack and attain a coup on the TOEFL with a perfect score!
I’ve also gone through the Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy and also have a tons of words in my Brain-Dictionary.
Hoping for a reply! (:


183 BDSM extrême October 22, 2014 at 1:05 am

Vraiment plaisɑnt, je crois qque cet artiϲle devrait intéresser
une pote


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