(This lesson was updated in March 2017.)
The TOEFL is one of the most difficult tests you will ever take in your life! You need to study hard to get a high score on the TOEFL. 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 is the Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is an English proficiency test produced by an American company called ETS. It measures your English reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills, and your ability to succeed at an English-speaking university.
Each section has a score out of 30, for a total overall score of 120. You don’t pass or fail the TOEFL. Each university requires 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, research the universities you want to attend and find out what score you need.
You can read more about the test content here.
There are A LOT of resources available to help you learn about the test and help you study for the test. Here are some resources available on the ETS TOEFL website:
TOEFL Go Anywhere
Sample TOEFL questions
2. Be prepared!
You should give yourself 6 months to 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. Buy a textbook (see my recommended books in the Resources section below.) 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.
On the TOEFL you will read passages or listen to lectures on everything from astronomy and American history to psychology and biology!
When you are studying 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 build your vocabulary, so you need to read about a variety of topics.
Four excellent resources on the Internet are BBC News, NPR, Ted Talks, and VOANews. Many of the articles on the VOA and NPR websites also have .mp3 files, so you can listen at the same time.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Business: BBC, NPR, The Economist, TED Talks
Science, health, and the environment: NPR, BBC (Nature), BBC (Science & Environment), BBC (Health), VOA (Technology), VOA (Science & Health), TED Talks (Science), TED Talks (Technology)
Arts, entertainment, and history: BBC (Entertainment & Arts), BBC (History), NPR, VOA, TED Talks
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 listen. 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.
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.
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 it is 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. Here is a system that you can start with.
- Practice, practice, practice! Practice taking notes while listening to BBC, TED Talks, NPR, or VOA. Practice while watching TV. When you have finished listening, you can go back and compare your notes to the transcript.
- 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.
For the TOEFL speaking section, 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 well the person scoring the test can understand you
Learn more: How to improve your pronunciation
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. Recording yourself is important for two reasons:
- you can hear yourself speak and evaluate your response
- you can get used to speaking to a computer
It can feel weird talking to a computer if you have never done it before!
Learn more: Record yourself speaking English
Here are 3 videos from ETS about the different speaking tasks.
Tasks 1 and 2
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. This is the standard keyboard for all North American keyboards. (It’s called a QWERTY keyboard because the top row of letters starts from the left with the letters QWERTY.)
Here’s what a QWERTY keyboard looks like:
You should practice as much as possible with a QWERTY keyboard. You need to know where all the letters are, how to make a capital letter, and where all the punctuation symbols are.
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 one 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!
An English essay has a very specific format, and this format may be different than the format that you are used to in your language. Essays in English follow this format:
- Introduction: The first paragraph introduces your essay, and tells the reader your opinion and what you are going to talk about in your essay.
- Body: The middle of the essay on the TOEFL is 2-3 paragraphs that support your opinion.
- Conclusion: The last paragraph summarizes your essay.
One paragraph is one thought. The first sentence of each paragraph explains what the paragraph is about, and the rest of the paragraph uses clear, specific examples to illustrate your opinion.
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.
Learn more: How to improve your English writing
The first writing task is an integrated essay. Here is a video from ETS that explains this task:
The second writing task is the independent essay. Here’s a video that explains how to structure the independent essay:
Here’s a video from ETS that explains 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.)
More writing tips:
- When you start practicing your essays, 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 you can write a good 300-word essay within 30 minutes.
- Answer the question that you are 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!
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!
I will repeat what I said in tip #2:
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.
All the TOEFL books that I recommend in the Resources section below have practice tests. As well, there are 4 practice tests available on the ETS TOEFL website (http://toeflpractice.ets.org/). Do at least one of the tests on the ETS website before you take the TOEFL so you can get used to taking the test on a computer.
Try doing one or two practice tests with the radio or TV on. There are a lot of distractions in the TOEFL test centers! You might still be doing the listening section when the person next to you starts the speaking section. You might be trying to concentrate on the reading section while the person next to you needs help with her computer. You never know what might happen, so be prepared for everything!
9. Learn how to relax!
Don’t laugh, but this is very important! Let’s be honest: this is not an easy test! It is a very stressful 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! Read something in English for 30 minutes, preferably something you have read before. (You don’t want to stress yourself out before the test!) 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 go to 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, 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 the first time they take the test.
Here are some things that might be a surprise the first time you take the test:
- 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.
You can take the test as many times as you need to, but you must wait 12 days between tests. Here’s what the ETS website says:
You can read more frequently asked questions here on the ETS website. You must pay the full price each time you take the test.
More information from the ETS website:
what to bring on test day
what to expect on test day
TOEFL test day tips
Here are all the best resources that I recommend using if you want to get a high score on the TOEFL. For your convenience I have added links to Amazon.com.
Other places where you can look for these books:
- Amazon in your country
- university libraries
- your local library
- university book stores
- English book stores
- secondhand book stores & thrift stores
Have you taken the TOEFL? Please share some of your tips in the comments below!
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
I’m so thrilled to hear that this helped you! Please let me know as soon as you get your results! = )
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!
wow, I will be applying for an US university next year and this is an excellent guide for planning the exam. Thanks!!
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.
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!
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.
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?
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!
Is there any university for master programmes no gre no toefl requires? i reaalyy gave up! :(
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.
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?
There are 4 practice tests available on the ETS TOEFL website http://toeflpractice.ets.org/
Good luck to you!
I kept my date on JUN 15 2013 and got the important tips from this website on reading, listening, writing and speaking tasks.
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 :)
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
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!
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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?
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 :)
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,
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.
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?
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.
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 :)
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?
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.
Also, just a quick tip: the collocation is “take a test,” not “
make a test.”
Many thanks 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 1.st 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!!
I’m sorry that your private teacher did not prepare you very well. Did you do any of the online tests provided by the TOEFL company at http://toeflpractice.ets.org/? 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 1.st 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.
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,
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.
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. Find the practice books that I recommend. The Delta book 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,
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,
I really recommend the Delta textbook in the resources section. 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 reading faster. A private tutor can work with you on this.
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!
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! :)
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.
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 “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,
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?
Yes, every time you take the TOEFL you pay a full price.
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.
First, it’s hard to say how long it will take to prepare without knowing your current level. 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 collocations 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 collocations more & more now. Also, using a online dictionary like http://www.macmillandictionary.com or http://www.learnersdictionary.com/ 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.
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.
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.
thank a lot for the tips, all of this are very helpfull.
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 :)
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.
Jay Dee says
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,
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? :)
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,
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
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, only a required score.
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?
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.
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: http://toeflpractice.ets.org/ 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!
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 ;)
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
Jin Ju says
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! =)
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,
Jin Ju says
Oh okay :) Thank you! It’s good to be informed…
Sorry for the late reply!
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?
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.
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.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience & tips, Sanne! This is excellent advice!
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.
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?
Paul Oliver says
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.
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!
Hi Do you retake for free?
Unfortunately, no. If you want to take the TOEFL again, you will have to pay for it.
Good luck to you!
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 ?
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!
I am so confused between TOFEL and IELTS.
What do you suggest on this?
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.
Thanks Melanie !!
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
Best of luck to you, Fizza!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
TtHANKS Melanie, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER AFTER HEARING FROM YOU.
some OF THE LECTURES THAT CAME ON MY LISTENING WERE FROM aRT, lITERATURE AND history AND I AM A PURE sCIENCE PERSON, I AM A pOST dOC sCIENTIST WHO DOES RESEARCH ON BRAIN AND AUTISM
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.
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: http://www.npr.org/sections/arts/
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,
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.
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..
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 !! :)
Roopali Yadav says
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.
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 :)
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 structured. 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!
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 .
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.
Hi I hope your doing well.
I have problem regarding my registration my name in my
documents and passport is only Mustafa.
so while registering online for TOEFL IBT they need
first name and last name. If I write my name
mustafa in both first and last columns would it
create any problem for me. Because I dont have
last name in my passport and documents. Any other
solution u suggest me.
I will be very thankfull for your help.
You need to contact the people who administer the TOEFL in your country to deal with your situation.
Go here and select your country:
This will give you information about who to contact in your country. They will tell you what to do about your situation with only 1 name.
Good luck to you!
Pranav Sharma says
I just read your techniques that how to score good in TOEFL. I am a high school graduated student and I want to appear in TOEFL because it`s compulsory to get admission in any good college of US, so it`s required. i am thinking to join a coaching institute to get prepared for TOEFL. So I wanna ask you that is it a right decision to join coaching for 4 weeks and then appear for TOEFL?
I want to tell you that I haven`t a excellent vocabulary but I am an average student in English or may be below than average. So an yo please tell me what to do to get a score near about perfect score and my exam will be on 12 July of 2015.
Hello Pranav Sharma,
Four weeks sounds like a short amount of time to prepare for the TOEFL, and I don’t know if this will be enough for you. It depends on how many days a week you will attend the course & for how many hours. It also depends on whether your teacher is a native speaker.
I also don’t think you will get a perfect score. A native speaker could not get a perfect score on this test. It helps if you know which universities you want to apply to & what scores they require.
Good luck to you!
I just found out this website recently and it’s been very helpful. Thank you so much for your tips.
I have a question for you. I took Toefl twice. Last time was two months ago and i got the following scores: 19/23/23/23
The scores i need are: 22/21/26/24. What do you suggest me, so i could meet this requirement? Also, how long do you think i should study for, before i sit for the exam again? Thank you so much in advance.
I wish you all the best.
You are so close! You just need to answer a couple more questions correctly in the reading section & score a couple more points in the speaking section.
I tell my students to spend at least 6 months – 1 year preparing for this test, but since you have already taken it, I recommend about 6 weeks for your next test.
There’s not much more advice I can give you outside of these tips without knowing more about your situation. How did you prepare for the test? What is your native language?
Thank you for responding. I took a course, but not too intensive, as i am working in the meantime. My native language is Albanian. I bought the Delta book you recommend here. Do you think finishing that book will increase my scores?
Pankaj kumar says
I need 90 with 26+ in speaking section. I hv not taken test before. My English is ok not so good. Is it necessary to have excellent grammar, vocabulary, speaking skills to get this score. How should i prepare for this score.
Hello Pankaj Kumar,
To get a high score in the speaking section, I recommend working with a tutor who is a native English speaker. If you cannot find one in or near your city, look for one online, specifically someone who specializes in the TOEFL.
It’s important to remember that this test is written for 18-year-old high school graduates who want to study at an English-speaking university. You do need good English skills to do well on the test.
All the best,
I am Indonesian
I had been struggling for English since last year
The TOEFL score that required for my university is 79 or 80
I took the test last year but only scored 55
2 weeks ago, i decided to retake the test
I prepared for it but still confuse
can you give me some advice ?
How have you been preparing for the test? Did you take a course? Are you using a textbook? What are your scores in each section? Which section is your lowest?
There’s not much advice I can give you without knowing your situation. You must practice as much as possible. You must do as many practice tests as possible ahead of time. If you have trouble with the speaking & listening sections, it is a good idea to work with a private tutor.
Good luck to you!
Michael Buckhoff says
You have given some very good advice on this web page. Students certainly need ample time to prepare for the exam, and, so many, like they may do at your web site, want a quick 30 day plan so that can get a high score.
However, like you said, these students may need six months to a full year before they will have solved the language issues necessary before they can score high on the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections.
In fact, students at my Online TOEFL Course rarely see more than about 5-10 points of improvement in their overall score each month that they study, this presupposing that they are using English and studying each day for 3-4 hours.
Anyway, thank you for your tips! I would like to share them with my TOEFL Preparation class at California State University, San Benardino and with my Online students at http://onlinetoeflcourse.com if you do not mind. I will direct them to the link at this web page.
Keep up the good work!
Hwang Dong Kyu says
Yolo, new test taker here!
I just signed up for Toefl on the closest date my mom could find (Cause she’s hysterical about my future like that) which is in one week.
Is there anyway to compress the 10 tips into a practical working format I can easily use, or do I have to spend every waking moment doing all the stuff the 10 tips mentioned before?
I am hoping for a score of at least 100 on this test. It seems rather high, but given my own skills here, as well as a little manly pride, I do believe I must try.
Alright, from your comment I can tell that your English is very good! You write like a native speaker! (Just out of curiosity, did you go to an American school or are you living in Canada or the U.S. right now?)
HOWEVER, hope is not a plan & even native speakers would have trouble getting a high score on this test if they haven’t prepared for it.
Yes, you DO have to spend every waking moment thinking in English & studying English from now until the test.
The best thing for you to do right away is to take the practice test:
You have to pay for the test, but it is the closest thing to the actual test & it will give you an idea of how well you’ll do on the actual test (and how close you’ll come to scoring 100).
If you can get your hands on the Delta text book (Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT: Advanced Skill Practice), read through it & familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions that will be asked on the test.
Other than that, good luck! I wish you well on the test,
Ying Htang says
I’m really glad to get your Web page. It’s very helpful for me.
Hi Teacher! I read your tips, and I think all of these tips are very useful and comprehensive for a toefl test taker. I have at least 6 months that I must prepare myself for the TOEFL test. I have a question from you, Actually I want to take a test on December 2015 but some others says to take a test on september 2015 as well to find your weaknesses and then work on those recommended issue. So could you please advise me on this decision so I should be prepared for Dec 2015. Or can guide me to take any free conversation via skype or any other softwares. I should also tell you that I have TOEFL preparing softwares. My English is not so bad in reading as well as in writing but in speaking I know that I am very in bad state.. Please advise!
The TOEFL website has several online practice tests that you can take to identify your weaknesses. This is much cheaper than paying for the actual test.
You should plan on taking the actual TOEFL twice. Not many students get the score they need the first time they take the test. I don’t recommend taking the test in September to find your weaknesses (do the TOEFL practice tests instead http://toeflpractice.ets.org). It is much better to take the test in November & December or in December & January, depending on when you need to submit your scores.
I am not familiar with any kind of TOEFL preparation software, but I highly recommend the Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT: Advanced Skill Practice textbook.
It’s stated that toefl can be taken more than once. Do I have to pay the requisite fees each time I take a toefl exam.
Yes, you must pay the registration fee every time you take the TOEFL.
This is great! Thank You For All Tips
Hi, dear teacher however it is my first time commenting on your website, but I really need your advice I am going to take the TOEFL ibt test on 5th of September 2015. I am from Afghanistan, and I prepared myself for the test using Barron’s Toefl ibt preparation book 14th edition for 4 months. My score estimation is around 80. Will i be eligible for undergraduate school in UK.
It depends on which school you want to attend & which program you want to study. Each university & each program may require a different score.
For example, the University of Oxford requires a TOEFL iBT score of 110. The University of Edinburgh requires a TOEFL iBT score of 92 for most programs.
If you know the school you want to attend, check the website for the school. Look for “International Students” and “English Language Requirements” to find the score you need.
I had my TOEFL exam on 14th November 2915 and today(24th november 2015) I got my result. I got 76. But I again want to give TOEFL exam. Am I eligible to register the exam with same TOEFL account or I can make another account.
First, well done on your first TOEFL, even though it is not the score that you wanted!
You can register for the exam again with the same TOEFL account. You do not need to set up another account. You just need to wait 12 days before you can take the test again.
All the best to you,
Very useful and summarized tips.Thanks a lot!
Ana María says
Hi, dear Melanie. I hope you’re doing well!
I want to share my TOEFL experience. :’D As you previously said, TOEFL is not an easy test… but with lots of practice and faith, it’s possible to reach!
When I first took my TOEFL test, on March 14th 2014, I got a 47. I took it because I was applying for an scholarship to improve my English. Surprisingly, I got the scholarship to study in the US for one year. I went to Missouri State University, in Springfield, MO. I know my score was bad, but I have improved a lot since then.
After returning to my home country from my previous experience, I was interested in applying for another scholarship to study acting in New York, which is my biggest passion. I noticed the scholarship a little bit late, so the due date was almost there. I took the test as soon as I got back home. I studied one day before the test (which is not recommended), but I did it anyway because I was running out of time. So, on March 23rd 2015, I took the test for the second time and I got a 71, which is not a bad grade, but my experience in the US and looking up some strategies one day before the test helped me a lot!
I didn’t have the scholarship, though. I needed an 85 in order to qualify for the scholarship.
I didn’t give up. I applied again this year. I had almost a month to get prepared and to have my required score. On January 9th 2016, I took it again. Today, I received my score: 85! R: 18 / L: 17 / S: 26 / W: 24.
I know I can improve that grade, but that is my required grade and I am happy I could finally reach it!
I studied and practiced by myself, but as an advice, it would be good to practice with someone else.
Listen to lots of music in English, read lots of books, articles, newspaper (science, astronomy, psychology, art, music, architecture, etc.), watch lots of movies (if you feel comfortable, you can watch it with English subtitles, but aaaaaalways in English!).
Remind yourself how successful you are and that you going to do very well in this test. Practice, faith and confidence are very important in order to succeed in TOEFL! Eat well, sleep early and start getting up early in the morning by warming your ears up with a movie or music in English! That helps your brain to prepare you for the test! Jaja, if that makes sense. :-P
Those are my advices for all of you!
Hugs from the Dominican Republic,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your TOEFL experience here! Congratulations on achieving the score you need to study in the US! That is fantastic!
Have you heard from the school in New York? What an exciting opportunity!
I think the number one thing that helped you prepare for the TOEFL was living & studying in the US for one year at an American university. I think this is something that students studying for the TOEFL need to understand: You need to surround yourself with English! What you said is so important:
“Listen to lots of music in English, read lots of books, articles, newspaper (science, astronomy, psychology, art, music, architecture, etc.), watch lots of movies (if you feel comfortable, you can watch it with English subtitles, but aaaaaalways in English!).”
Thank you again & I wish you all the best with your studies!
Ana María says
Hola, dear Melanie!
Thank you for replying my message! ♥
The application opening date will be on April 1st and will close on June 6th, so I will send my application between April-May. I’ll try my best. The schorlaship is given to one student per year! The school’s name is ”The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute”.
Thank you for your wonderful advices, Mel. They helped me a lot, too!
Oh, Mel, as a part of the requirements for the scholarship is to write three essays with a minimum of 700 words. I have them written, because I applied last year… but things have changed after one year, so I will read them again and see what things I can edit and change. But after I finish them, I would like to know if you can take a look to them and if you can proofread them. To hear your personal opinion and your advices will be so valuable and so helpful to me!
I hope to hear from you soon. :-D
Hi, I’m Alex and I wanted to know whether I can practice for TOEFL in a week because my test is on march 5th 2016.
I can’t say yes or no because I don’t know your level of English, or how well you speak and write in English. However, the best thing to do is take one of the practice tests:
If you can, look for the Official Guide to the TOEFL & the Delta book I recommend above at your local library or English bookstore.
From now until March 5, surround yourself with natural spoken English: listen to English music, watch English TV show & movies, listen to English podcasts, read English newspapers & magazines … as much as possible!
I wish you all the best,
I think it will work on me then, tomorrow is my first test on it
I guess it’ll work on me
but thanks before.
Hi my name is abiyou i am from Ethiopia ,which is found in East Africa. Here in my country we can’t buy books from amazon or any e-commerce sites . this is because such things is not allowed legally and i am not good at speaking and writing and i want to take the tofel exam. how can i improve these skills with out
reading those books that you are recommend in your sites
Do you live near a major city in Ethiopia where there is a university or a major library? You may be able to find books and other resources in the English department of a university or in the library.
I googled “TOEFL resources Ethiopia” and found a university called St. Mary’s in Addis Ababa. They are a testing centre. Call them or email them and ask them how to find books and other resources to prepare for the TOEFL in Ethiopia.
TOEFL also has a YouTube channel with free information: https://www.youtube.com/user/TOEFLtv
I am sorry that it is illegal to use e-commerce sites like Amazon.com. That is a shame.
All the best to you,
Hi. I want to know something.I finished my bachelor degree.My Toefl IBT Score is 43.I want to know can I study with this score my masters degree anywhere? I mean Europe. If you have any information about it please turn me.It can be college or university in Europe.Please help me. My Toefl Ibt score is 43
First, congratulations on finishing your bachelor’s degree! That’s a great achievement.
Unfortunately, you will not be accepted into any master’s degree program with a score of 43 on the TOEFL iBT. The TOEFL iBT is out of 120. You will need a score of 90+ to be accepted into a master’s degree program.
Do you know which universities you want to study at? That is your first step. Do some research. Decide which universities you want to apply to. Check the websites of those websites to discover the TOEFL iBT score they require.
Good luck to you!
I must take TOEFL ibt with a 115 score for master program I want to get in. It is almost a perfect score and making me so nervous.
A little of my background story, I came from Indonesia 15 years ago with a bachelor degree in medicine.
I listen to WNYC radio almost every day. They have various radio show I love to hear from Fresh Air, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Freakonomic, Radio Lab, On Being, American Test Kitchen, Only Human and many more. Besides that, they have NPR news through out the day. In morning, they would have BBC news. In addition, I used to listen to many non fiction audio books. Also, I enjoy watching TED talk on interesting topics.
Whereas the reading part, I like to read New York Times newspaper as well as the magazine. I do most of my reading online such as ABCnews, Huffington news, The New Yorker, Psychology Today and whatever comes up on my Facebook feed.
Furthermore, I graduated with an associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technician from a community county college where I earned 6 credits of writing with B grade. In writing class, I got an A on a research paper at the end of the semester. Nonetheless, it did not help my overall grade because of my poor writing in the beginning.
Whenever I take on TOEFL practice, I am confident with my reading and listening. On the other hand, I am not comfortable with my pronunciation and writing skill.
Could you please help me with my two weaknesses?
Let me introduce my self, my name is Nada Knezevic and I recently moved to USA from Europe.In order to continue my education here I need to pass TOFEL ibt with high score.To be exact I need overall score of 100 and 26 on speaking part.
Can you give me any advice what kind of preparatory courses are best for me? Is the TOFEL online one of them?
Any advice is welcome.
Thank you for your time and help.
I got a score of 104 the first time I took TOEFL, reading 26, listening 29, speaking 26, and writing 23. I got a score of 99 the second time I took TOEFL, reading 26, listening 25, speaking 26 and writing 22. I need a score of 24 in writing how can i do that.
Hi, Pratha! That must be very frustrating for you! You are doing so well on the TOEFL, and you just need one or two more points to reach the required score of 24 on the writing section.
First, let’s talk about what you’re doing right now. Do you have any trouble writing the essays? Can you finish the essays within the time limit? Do feel tired by the time you get to the essays? It’s a really long test. If you can tell me a bit more about what happens during the writing section, we can come up with a solution.
My name is ahmad and i want to give teofle two year later so how can i prepare myself and i want to get 111 score on test
first let me introduce my self because this is the poineer time to see your blog since March,2017.
My name is Abe from Ethiopia. Even i’m holding 2nd degree in chemistry and teaching in highschool, i’ m poor in speech as well writting and the like. Therfore, i want to be your actively participant student because of two reasons.one, to be afluent speaker in English language for the sake of delivering my routine work.secondly, i wish to take TEFL test in this year to apply PHD international free scholarships. So i hope u give your kindly advices how can i do for next time. Furthermore, your lesson is very important and interesting. I hope you will reply soon thank you.
I have taken TOEFL 5 times but i could not get the score I want(R:21,L:18,S:26,W;24). Every time I miss in one or two sections either Reading or writing in 2 marks.I could not pass all four sections in one attempt. Can you please suggest what to do? I practiced the websites, textbooks, youtube videos and even attended a course. I am struggling lot to get those just few marks in past couple years. I need your help.
sary aini says
Thanks a lot for the tips
it is helpful
After I meet the score requirement of the school I want,what is the guarantee that I’m going to get enrolled into that school?
Unfortunately there is no guarantee. Your TOEFL score is one of many factors that schools use to determine whether to accept you. If you meet all the requirements, there is a good chance you will be accepted, but it also depends on how many people apply.
Good luck to you!