How to Prepare for the TOEFL for non-English Speaking Students?



Proper Preparation for the TOEFL

In this article we will break down the steps to successfully prepare for the TOEFL English proficiency test, what the scores mean, and along with free resources to help you with the exam.  Let’s get started!

What is the TOEFL?  The TOEFL is a required test for any prospective college student if your first language learned was other than English.  It is essentially a test to ascertain your grasp of the English language at the college level.  The test evaluates your ability to read, write, listen, and speak the English language.  The TOEFL is accepted by over 9,000 colleges in over 130 different countries.

What does TOEFL stand for?  The TOEFL acronym stands for the Test of English as a Foreign Language and is administered by the Educational Testing Service and has appointed testing agencies in various countries to act on their behalf as franchisees.

How often are TOEFL exams administered?  Unlike the bulk of other standardized tests in the United States, the TOEFL can be taken year round depending on your schedule and the testing agency’s availability.  You can take the test as many times as you would like but must wait a minimum of twelve days between tests.  If you are needing to schedule and exam, make sure to do so well in advance to ensure space for you to sit for the test.

How long does the TOEFL test take to complete?  The TOEFL exam will typically take a person between four and four and a half hours to complete.

Who needs to take the TOEFL?  As mentioned earlier, a non-English speaking student planning on attending a US-based college or university must take the TOEFL.  The exam is also geared for ELL (English Language Learning) program entrance and exit, scholarship candidates, ELL students to provide interim check-points towards language proficiency, students applying for visas, along with certification candidates.

What test prep material is available for the TOEFL?  There are a number of options to prepare for the TOEFL exam from self-study options to test tutors.  If you are confident with the self-study option, the ETS has a host of resources available from books to guides to online tests.

What free resources are available to prepare for the TOEFL?  The ETS provides a number of free resources to help a student prepare for the TOEFL exam.  The tools include free, unlimited access to past questions, sample questions, over 25 test prep audio files, plus an eight week test prep planner.

Are there test prep options for disabled students?  Yes, the Educational Testing Service has provided test prep questions for disabled students in medium and large font format along with a quick test prep questions.  The ETS also has testing options for students with low vision, deaf, or hard of hearing here.

What are the TOEFL score ranges?  University Language has put together a helpful guide to help students understand the TOEFL scoring system along with internet-based scoring and paper-based scoring that can be found here.

What are the top strategies for preparing for the TOEFL exam?  It is recommended to immerse yourself in the English language and practice daily.  Repetition and exposure to new material will help your functioning memory understand and recall information during this language acquisition phase.  Take the time to write hand-written notes, keep a personal journal, and compose emails in English using a QWERTY keyboard.  You will also want to invest time listening to English podcasts, radio, and television.  Read English documents every day – from books to magazines to websites, reading will help improve the breadth and depth of your working vocabulary.  Speak English with clarity and good intonation.

What do I need to bring to the TOEFL exam on test day?  When test day arrives, make sure to arrive at the testing facility 20-30 minutes early with your ETS registration number and approved identification.  Stay calm throughout the test and spend extra time to fully understand the directions.  Concentrate on the section at hand and move on to the next question if you are stuck on one in particular.  Finally, manage your time wisely by setting a good pace to complete the test inside the maximum allotted time.

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