Devina Arvind scored 114 in her TOEFL test. She shares her experience in this article.
A lot of people have been asking me for preparation tips for TOEFL. So I'm writing this post for anyone who might have similar queries/doubts regarding TOEFL.
My TOEFL score is 114 (R: 28, L: 29, S: 28, W: 29). I had a week to prepare for TOEFL out of which actual productive days were only 4.
Before anything else, I would strongly recommend you to download the 4 TOEFL QuickPrep pdfs from the ETS website.
Here is the link: https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/quick_prep/
Let me take you through my method of preparation section-wise.
1. Reading section:
I referred to the QuickPrep pdfs only. Since I was well acquainted with Reading Comprehensions after answering GRE, I didn't require much help here. The TOEFL RCs are much easier than GRE and the questions are in the order in which the paragraphs are displayed. The QuickPrep material is a good enough simulation of the actual test.
2. Listening section:
The QuickPrep material to the rescue again. Out of the 4 pdfs, the 3rd and 4th pdf have audio files for listening. Practicing from those should be enough. In my opinion, The Listening section is the easiest section on TOEFL. Just pay attention to the lecture/conversation and make notes. It'll be easy to score there.
3. Speaking section:
I needed help only in the Speaking section because I found it difficult initially. I took help from Notefull videos.
You'll find all Notefull videos for Speaking on YouTube. Question wise.They provide a template for speaking which was extremely helpful.
The Speaking section is the area where I believe everyone struggles the most as it is difficult to concise your thoughts in 60 seconds. I searched for topics on Google for the Speaking section and practiced them by setting a timer on my phone/recording myself while speaking. The only key here is practice. Practice a lot.
4. Writing section:
For the Writing section too I watched Notefull videos. They provide a template for the integrated Writing part which I found very good.
For the independent Writing section, I watched a video of TOEFL Resources. They provided a good template for writing. I liked it.
- The actual TOEFL was very much similar to the QuickPrep pdfs.
- Please strictly adhere to the time limit for the Speaking section while practicing. In fact, stick to the time limit for all the sections.
- Take one or two mock tests to get a feel of the test. After all, other than judging your English skills, TOEFL also tests your tenacity to sit and answer questions for almost 4 hours.
- Be prepared to be disturbed during your test. This is because while you are still on your Reading or Listening section, there might be some other candidate in the test centre who has begun his Speaking section and despite the headphones, you tend to get distracted. For example in my test, during the end of my Listening section, many had already started with their Speaking and I found it a little difficult to concentrate.
- If you have a basic command over English, you should be able to sail through easily. Keep your cool.
A very important tip on how to utilise your 10 minute break.
After you complete the Reading and Listening sections, you get a mandatory 10 minute break. Take a break, go out, drink water, eat something, clear your head but come back to your seat when you still have your break time left i.e. you need to do some work during your break time too and trust me, it will help a lot. When you are back to your seat, request for a fresh scratch paper rightaway and start making your notes for the Speaking section. How? Refer to the video links shared below. They tell you exactly how to make your notes for all the Speaking questions. Since this section is the one where time plays a very crucial part, I would strongly recommend you to follow this tip. When you only have 15 seconds to think and write at the same time, you end up getting nervous seeing the timer ticking and hence end up writing nothing. Those 15 seconds will be over before you know it.
During my test, I had quickly made notes for all the questions on the Speaking section in my break time. And by notes I mean prepared my template. So when I actually began my Speaking section, I only had to fill in blanks in my template according to the content of the question. This way I ensured that I didn't waste any time writing the template rather than jotting down the content of the lecture/conversation.
To help you further, I'm including the YouTube Notefull links I referred to for the Speaking and Writing sections. As mentioned above, I also referred to a TOEFL Resources video for the independent Writing part. You should be able to find that channel on YouTube.
Speaking Questions (6 questions)
Question 1 & 2 (Both are similar questions)
Writing Questions (2 questions)
Adding the QuickPrep link: https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/quick_prep/
One more thing, everything written on this post is purely based on my personal experience regarding the centre/preparation.
About the centre:
The invigilators in my centre were strict but they didn't disturb anyone during his/her exam to my knowledge. They didn't point out why or when I was writing or making notes during the Speaking section. If your centre is strict, then maybe you shouldn't follow the 10 minute break approach I've shared.
About the test:
My basic command over English has always been decent and hence I was able to prepare in 4 days. However, if you feel that you need more practice or need more time, then go for it. Google is always your best friend.
It's a judgement call. Assess yourself.