The TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a test designed to measure proficiency in English. The exam has four sections: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking section, and writing section.
Part 1 of 2: Improve Your English Skills
Step 1. Spend a lot of time preparing
Learning a language takes time.
Step 2. Think in English
Do it all the time, while you walk, while planning your day, while eating. It will get easier as you practice more.
- The best way is to put your skills to use, chat with native speakers. There are many sites on the Internet that offer penpals and conversational partners. They can meet in person, via Skype or through other services. You could even meet an English speaker who wants to learn your language, if you're willing to return the favor.
- You can also listen to radio, television and even podcasts in English.
Step 3. Learn English grammar
Grammar alone will not ensure a good score in the grammar section, but knowledge is important.
Step 4. Learn to recognize the parts of speech in English
The most important are: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions and interjections. There are also phrases that function as nouns, verbs, etc.
Step 5. Learn some idioms
Go to Wiktionary, there you will find a list of idioms with their definitions.
Step 6. Read as much as you can in English
We recommend starting with magazines, newspapers and short articles, but gradually try to read books. The reading comprehension section will be the most difficult if you don't get the main idea.
Step 7. Write as much as you can in English
Don't worry if your writing isn't perfect, just try your best to put together good paragraphs of 5-6 sentences each. Practice “pre-writing,” that is, practice organizing your writing with an outline or other technique. If you have a plan in advance, it will be easier for you to write well.
Part 2 of 2: Improve Your TOEFL Skills
Step 1. Take a practice test
You can find TOEFL internships online or you can purchase a prep book, such as Barron's TOEFL.
- Take the time during your practice so that you know how long each section takes.
- Practice each section of the test and become familiar with it so that you understand how each one works.
- Find out what kinds of questions have been asked before, what kinds of essay topics they have assigned, and what kinds of subjects have been taken on the exam.
- Find out which sections and concepts are difficult for you to practice those areas more.
Step 2. Buy the TOEFL prep books
To get started, we recommend the book The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test. You can also find copies of books on the Internet that you can read on your computer. In this way, you will become familiar with the structure of the exam and the way in which the content will be presented.
There are many tips in most prep books. Read them and remember them, because they can make the difference between a good score and an excellent score
Step 3. Familiarize yourself with the types of questions
There are certain types of questions on the TOEFL, so make sure you know what types of questions will be on the test. Here is a summary:
- Reading comprehension questions: mostly multiple-choice questions, dealing with vocabulary, details, purpose, negative factual information, essential information, reference, and inference. It will also cover where to put information in a sentence, summary, and tables.
- Listening questions: similarly, they are mostly multiple-choice, dealing with the main idea, detail, purpose, organization, and implications. There are also tables and some questions where you will have to give more than one answer.
- Oral section questions: they will give you a topic to listen to, a time to organize your ideas and then a time to speak. Topics will vary from the most academic to personal.
- Writing questions: you will be given two tasks. In the first, you will have to write for 20 minutes; in the second, 30 minutes. You must give your opinion and support it.
Step 4. Keep taking practice tests
Taking an exam means nothing: it could go very well or very badly. So take it a few times. Your final score will likely fall within the range that you had on your practice tests. And the more you drink, the less nervous you will be!
Practice good test taking habits.
- Learn how quickly you can move forward without making too many mistakes.
- If you are not sure about a certain answer in a multiple choice question, eliminate as many as you can and try your best to guess with the ones you have.
- If one of the questions is taking too long, you might be better off guessing or skipping it rather than wasting time on something you don't know.
- Learn as many words as you can.
- For the listening test, read the points quickly, because you won't have enough time to read them twice.
- When you take the test, be sure to wear comfortable clothing. In winter, wear something thin, but warm. Do not bring extra things: you will only need your identity card (passport, etc.), a bottle of water and some snacks to eat during the break (they will give you a 10-minute break).
- You do not feel close to your friends, otherwise you will lose focus on the exam.
- Find out if you will take the test on paper or on the computer. It is very important that you know.
- Never give up, because everything is possible for you.
- Don't expect to pass with a good grade on the first try.