Is the TOEFL Test Hard?
The TOEFL test, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is one of the most popular tests used to demonstrate English proficiency. So far, over 35 million test takers have taken the TOEFL to enroll in English-speaking universities.
You may feel overwhelmed if you’re getting ready to prepare for the TOEFL test. Many students find that while one section may not pose much of a problem, one or two others are a little more daunting. For example, while you might have an easy enough time reading English, you may struggle with oral comprehension or writing.
Is the TOEFL test hard? What counts as a passing score? How can you prepare for the TOEFL test and improve your results?
We’re here to answer all of these questions and more. Read on as we discuss the TOEFL test.
What Is the TOEFL Test?
First, let’s break down what the TOEFL test is. Understanding its basic components and scoring might make it less daunting than you expected. We’ll answer some FAQs before providing tips and tricks to help you to prepare for the test the smart way.
What Does the TOEFL Test Cover?
Most people will take the TOEFL iBT, which you can take on a computer at home with a proctor, on a computer at a testing center, or on paper at a testing center. The TOEFL iBT is broken down into four sections, and you should be given at least 3.5 hours to take the entire thing. The sections are as follows:
Reading (54 to 72 minutes)
Listening (41 to 57 minutes)
Speaking (17 minutes)
Writing (50 minutes)
Some people may take the TOEFL Essentials test, but remember that fewer universities and programs will accept a TOEFL Essentials score. The TOEFL Essentials test covers the same subjects listed above but takes less time to complete.
Who Should Take the TOEFL Test?
People commonly take the TOEFL test to complete their university application materials when they want to study in the US but live abroad. US citizens typically do not need to take the TOEFL test even if English is a second language, assuming they’ve completed their primary education. If you are not a US citizen but live in an English-speaking country like Australia or England, you likely will not need to take the test to apply to US universities.
What Is Considered a Passing TOEFL Score?
You can earn between 0 and 30 points from each TOEFL section. Your total score combines those four individual scores, the highest being 120.
There is no universal score that is considered passing. Each institution can set a passing score between 61 and 109. If you’re unsure what score you need to apply to your preferred universities, contact the admissions office for each school.
How Many Times Can You Take the TOEFL Test?
There is no limit to the number of times you can take the TOEFL. However, you must wait at least 12 days between test dates.
Although there is no limit, it is in most test takers’ best interest to do well the first or second time. This is because the TOEFL is not free and can cost between $180 and $325 USD.
Is the TOEFL Test Difficult?
Many test takers do find that the TOEFL test is difficult. Learning a new language is always a challenge. Being able to write, speak, and comprehend a language on both the page and orally is particularly challenging.
The good news is you can use various study materials and methods to work on all four skills and strengthen your English proficiency before the test day.
How to Prepare for the TOEFL Test
Now that you know more about the TOEFL test and what to expect, it’s time to discuss preparation. Studying is always a good idea before you take a challenging test, but it’s helpful to know how to focus your attention to maximize results. Let’s look at our top tips for anyone getting ready to take the TOEFL test.
Create a Study Schedule
Any engagement with the English language is going to help you prepare for the TOEFL test. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip more traditional study methods. Because these four sections can seem overwhelming when you’re thinking about all of them at once, it’s helpful to create a study schedule that will allow you to focus on one at a time.
We recommend giving yourself one week per section and an additional week to review everything you’ve learned. In this case, that would mean beginning your study schedule five weeks before your exam date. By starting this early, you can build in plenty of breaks and avoid fatigue or information overload. Consider studying for no more than one to two hours per day, taking at least one day off of your studying per week.
Use Different Studying Methods
Each week, begin by reviewing TOEFL study guides for the section you’re focusing on. These study guides will provide a comprehensive overview of what the test will cover. As you review the information in each study guide, consider taking handwritten notes so that you interact with the material in various ways.
Many students find that more than one single study method is needed. It’s helpful to incorporate other tools that will allow you to engage with the English language beyond the page. Use TOEFL flashcards to test and increase memory retention as you study.
Involve a Friend
Because the TOEFL has both a listening and speaking portion, it may be helpful to partner up with a friend. Ask this person to speak to you in English and to listen to your verbal English to help you improve your spoken grammar, pronunciation, and word usage.
If possible, ask a friend who is a native English speaker. Research shows that when you’re learning a second language, one of the best methods to learn and practice is to talk to someone who speaks that language fluently. Native English speakers can help you to learn colloquialisms and help you with confusing parts of speech.
Many test takers find the speaking and listening portions of the TOEFL exam the most intimidating. By practicing your verbal English with a friend, you can increase your confidence and head into test day with plenty of experience conversing in English.
Take TOEFL Practice Tests
Can you find out how much progress you’ve made before taking the TOEFL test? Yes! Add TOEFL practice tests to your study schedule, taking them once at the beginning, once in the middle, and again at the start of your final study week.
You can get hands-on experience with TOEFL formatting by taking a TOEFL practice test. Practice tests will help you know what types of questions you’ll encounter on test day and what answers the proctor is looking for.
Take note of the questions that you answered incorrectly or struggled with. Then, when reviewing your study materials in the final week, you can focus on the sections or types of questions you have the most trouble mastering.
The TOEFL is a unique test because it doesn’t require test-takers to demonstrate their knowledge of different subjects like math or science. Instead, it asks test-takers to demonstrate their ability to use a language that isn’t their first language. Starting your studies early is vital because it may take a lot of practice and effort to prepare before demonstrating your English proficiency.
Can you condense all your study sessions into a few days, spending several hours with your study materials rather than one to two hours at a time? The answer is that you can, but it isn’t advisable.
Studies have shown that there are better ways to study than trying to cram before a test. While it can help you retain information for a short time, it won’t form long-lasting memories of the material. Cramming can also increase stress, which can make focus difficult both while you’re studying and while you’re taking the test.
Union Test Prep Is Here to Help
If you’re going to take the TOEFL test soon, it’s time to start preparing. Union Test Prep is here to help, offering a variety of online study materials that you can access for free!
Ready to get started? We’re here to help you study smarter, not harder! Take a look at our full suite of TOEFL study materials, including study guides, flashcards, and practice tests.
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