TOEFL Preparation Tips

A test which gets you the access to more than 8,500 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries across the world and moreover, values your convenience by providing you 4,500 test sites in more than 165 countries worldwide. It also measures the skills which would end up proving the most useful in a real life classroom. This is TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), for you.

In the times of growing economic competition, employers seek candidates with the best educational credentials and qualifications. The present scenario where it seems that the world is gradually shrinking, education from a foreign university helps you reap great advantages. Also, international experience is appraised by employers around the globe. TOEFL can be your magic wand in such a situation. If you are not a native English speaker, it’s expected of you to prove that you can write and understand English at the university level. By giving the TOEFL test, you have your plate full with the widest selection of universities, including the top 100 from Australia, New Zealand, and U.K., U.S., Canada and more. The TOEFL scores can be used to fulfil even the visa requirements in Australia and the United Kingdom.

The TOEFL test evaluates an applicant’s ability to use English at the university level. It also assesses how well a student blends his/her listening, reading, speaking and writing skills in order to perform academic tasks. There are two formats for the test, depending on the location of your designated test centre.

TOEFL is conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service. It’s a non-profit educational institution based in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.)

Most test takers give the TOEFL iBT test, while the others who don’t have an access to the internet take the Paper-based Test (PBT). The test, in addition, to offering you a convenient test location, also offers you more test dates than before, which are 30-40 test dates in a year. The test can be taken as many times as wished by the applicant.

The TOEFL iBT was first introduced in 2005 and is gradually being acquainted throughout the world. Changes were made to the previous version of TOEFL to assess a student’s capability to interact productively in an academic setting and also to reproduce university learning, from classroom to the book store.

The TOEFL iBT consists of four sections:

· Reading

· Listening

· Speaking, and

· Writing

The duration of the test is 4 hours, and the entire test is completed within a day.

Each section is marked out of 30 marks, which mean the test is of 120 marks in whole. Each institution sets its own acceptable score limits.


Test Section

No. of Questions



3-5 passages. Each consists of 12-14 questions.

60-100 minutes


4-6 Lectures, 6 questions each

2-3 Conversations, 5 questions each

60-90 minutes

BREAK 10 minutes


6 tasks

2 independent,

4 integrated

20 minutes


1 integrated task

1 independent task

20 minutes

30 minutes


The reading section assesses a student’s capability to understand texts and passages which are affiliated to a university level. A student’s basic tasks, once he/she enters a university are to read and comprehend his textbooks and other sources. The reading section fulfils this requirement and more.

· It helps a student in reading and sieving the most useful information.

· Increased skills and eloquence in reading,

· Deducing the crux of the given passage

· Translate the relationship between the many ideas.

The reading section uses passages extracted from university-level textbooks which introduce a discipline or a topic. The passages can:

· Provide explanation about a topic

· Provide a point of view about a topic and supporting evidence

· A passage that is historical in nature.

Question Formats

Simple multiple choice questions, with four options and a correct option.

Questions with four options and a single answer which requires the students to insert a sentence where it fits appropriately in the passage.

“Reading to learn” questions with more than four choices and more than one appropriate correct answer. These questions are new in the format and test the applicant’s capability to understand the organization of the passage and assess the relationship between facts and ideas in the passage. These questions require the applicants to screen information and place the text options available in into a category chart or a summary.

The summary questions carry upto 2 marks each. In these questions, a sentence is provided as a start to the summary and the rest of the portion is selected by the reader in the correct sequence.

The chart questions are up to 3 points if there are five options presented and up to 4 points when there are seven options. Partial credit is provided in this format.


· While reading the text, highlight important points, ideas, facts and other relevant information.

· Improving vocabulary can help greatly.

· For an initial idea, try skimming the passage. This means to read the headings and sub-headings in order to get a basic idea of the passage.

· If there are some unfamiliar words in the passage, don’t panic. Try guessing their meaning through contextualizing it with the rest of the passage.


Listening section of the test measures an applicant’s capability to comprehend spoken English. In an academic setting, students are expected to listen to lectures and make sense out of those. This section helps students to achieve the same along with:

Identify a speaker’s attitude and his/her function and purpose.

Establish relationship between ideas present and drawing a coherent conclusion.

Acknowledge the organization of the passage.

The lectures in the TOEFL iBT are similar to the kind of environment usually prevalent in a conventional classroom. In some of the lectures the professor does all the talking, whereas in some others he encourages interaction from the students.

Question Formats

After the listening matter is played, applicants both see and hear the question before the answer choices are shown. There are four kinds of formats in this section:

· Traditional multiple-choice questions with four choices and a correct answer

· Multiple choice questions with more than two correct answers

· Questions where the test takers order steps or events in a process.

· Questions where objects and texts are matched to categories in a chart.


· Focus on the content. Do not pay attention to the speaker’s style or accent.

· Make notes on the important points said by the speaker.

· Stay focused and active. Don’t lose concentration.


This section quantifies a student’s ability to communicate effectively in a classroom. It also ensures that the students respond to questions and participates in class discussions.

As described in the test format, the speaking section consists of a total of six tasks- two independent and four integrated tasks.

As per the independent task, the students are made to express their opinions, ideas, arguments or experiences for a topic they are familiar with.

The other four integrated tasks require the applicants to make use of more than one skill. That is, firstly, they read and listen, and then they speak in response. In the process they take notes and use these notes while responding.






1. Personal Preference

In this section, the test taker expresses or defends a topic from categories like important people, places, events or activities as preferred by the test taker.

Preparation Time: 15 seconds

Response Time: 45 seconds

2. Choice

Here, the applicant is asked to make a choice between two contrasting courses of action or behaviour, and then defend it through a set of arguments.

Preparation Time: 15 seconds

Response time: 45 seconds


3. Campus Situation Topic: Fit and Explain

· A reading passage (75- 100 words) on a campus-related issue.

· A listening passage (60-80 seconds, 150-180 words) commenting on the contents of the text.

· The question requires the test-taker to summarize the opinion as expressed by the speaker in the context of the reading passage.

Preparation Time: 30 seconds

Response time: 60 seconds

4. Academic Course

Topic: General/Specific

· The listening passage (60-90 seconds, 180-220 words) talks about a student-related problem and two probable solutions.

· The question asks the student to exhibit an understanding of the contents of the passage and suggest an opinion regarding the solution to the problem.

Preparation Time: 20 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds

5. Campus Situation

Topic: Problem/ Solution

· There is a conversation (60-90 seconds, 180-220 words) regarding a student-related problem and possible solutions.

· The question asks the student to exhibit an understanding of the contents of the passage and suggest an opinion regarding the solution to the problem.

Preparation Time: 20 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds

6. Academic Course

Topic: Summary

· Here, the listening passage is an extract from a lecture (90-120 seconds, 230-280 words) which explains a term/concept giving solid examples illustrating the same.

· The question asks the applicant to summarize the topic and establish a relationship between the lecture and the examples.

Preparation Time: 20 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds


20 minutes


· Practice speaking about topics familiar to you.

· In integrated tasks, notice the tone and attitude of the speaker and try guessing his inclinations.

· Take care of your pronunciation and grammar.

· Don’t speak too fast. Be clear and audible.

· Check all your audio and video equipments carefully.

· Practice through sample tests and other resource material available online.


A teacher expects his students to be fully able to express their ideas in a fluent and a well-organized manner, in an academic setting. This section tests the same, in the test-takers along with several other things.

· Planning and organizing an essay.

· Expressing your views/opinions in an organized manner.

· Use correct grammar and appropriate vocabulary to bring home your views/opinions.

· To make sure you are spelling the words right and following all the rules of punctuation.




1. Integrated Task

· Applicants get a short text of about 230-300 words to read (Duration: 3 minutes)

· The lecture follows. During the lecture, the text disappears. It appears again once the applicants begin writing for further reference.

· The lecture consists of a speaker discussing the same topic with a different point-of-view of about 230-300 words(Duration: 2 minutes)

· The question requires the applicants to write their opinion on the points as expressed in the reading and the listening passages.

Word Limit: 150-225 words (No penalty on exceeding it)

2. Independent Task

· Applicants express their opinions through their writing skills and present various arguments to defend and support their perspectives.

Word Limit: 300 words (Exceeding the limit is allowed andacceptable.)


· Increase vocabulary and practice the use of idioms.

· Concentrate on grammatical formations, spellings and punctuation.

· Organize your article in a proper manner.