Part I – The Overview
Welcome to this Blog that will help you get a better insight into what the Toefl is, but more so on to how to prepare for it, how to be able to predict questions and achieve that dream score that you have. If you´re reading this, you probably already have some information about this test, However, its always good to give an introduction before we continue to the more specific questions.
Now in our Toefl classes, we always begin with a general introduction to the test, many of our students are required to take the test but don’t really know why this test is so important or why they need to take it. Most of them have to take this test for a college admission and others for work related purposes, yet a few of them want to take it for personal gains and goals, which is really admirable.
Our general introduction of the Toefl begins with a very basic group of frequently asked questions that most students have, which I will list right away:
What is the Toefl test?
It is a test that measures the ability of non-native English speakers to use and understand English through the four basic skills (Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing) at a university level.
How do I find the test date and location?
You must go to the official Toefl website, Register and then choose a test date and location that suits you. You can register by phone, and by mail as well, although the online registration is much simpler.
Can I retake the test?
Yes, you can. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test, however, you have to allow for two weeks to pass by between tests. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test date that is within 12 days of your existing appointment.
Why should I take the Toefl over other tests?
4.1 It’s the most highly respected around the world
4.2 It’s the most widely accepted
4.3 It’s the most accurately measured
4.4 It’s the most fair and unbiased
4.5 It’s the most convenient
How long is the test?
The test is about 4 hours long itself, however it will normally take about to 4.5 hours long as you must arrive to the test location 30 minutes prior to test time so that you may do your checking. Note that you must take a valid ID to continue to your test.
What can I take to the test?
The most important thing to take is you ID as you´ll need this to proceed to the checking process, aside from this, just the essentials, however keep in mind that depending on the test center, you will be allowed a locker or similar facility to stow your belongings. My recommendation is to go light, but it is highly recommended that you take a snack and some water with you. You won’t really need a pen or paper as this will be provided to you. I strongly suggest not to take any electronic devices with you, these will be left in the locker area but just to prevent any issues.
How is the test?
The test has 4 sections; Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. In each section you´ll be presented with questions that you must respond accordingly; the questions may be multiple choice or spoken and essay style questions. Each section is worth 30 points which adds to 120 points. There is no “passing” score, every college or company have a specific score that they request from their future students or employees.
When should I start preparing for the test?
We strongly recommend our students to prepare at least 2 months prior to the test date. We do plenty of activities in class, but this must be complemented with enough self-practice. Practice makes perfect, so if your aiming at a higher score you must make a bigger effort to obtain it.
What is the best way to prepare for the Toefl?
As I mentioned before, the best way is to practice, practice, practice and keep on. You have to develop your individual skills and our teachers will help you trouble shoot and strengthen your weak points to help you achieve your desired score.
There are a ton more questions that we get from our students, but these we the top 9. You can always visit the ETS website and go to their FAQ´s to check out any potential doubts.
Now, I want to give a general overview of what to expect in the test and here I’ll explain it very lightly, however, in the next post, I´ll go more in depth to each one of the sections. So, we know there are four sections in the test, and the order of the test is; Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. So, let’s begin with the Reading Section.
This section can take from 60 to 80 minutes where you will get 3 or 4 texts to read, and you’ll be asked 12 to 14 questions about each text.
This section takes 60 or 90 minutes where you will listen to conversations, lectures and conversations. These audios can be anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes long. You´ll be asked about 5 to 7 questions per listening. You’ll be allowed to take notes in this section.
This section will last about 20 minutes and here you will hear 6 questions that you must respond within the allotted time. Questions can be about a familiar topic, or integrating information from a small text and a lecture. You´ll be allowed to take notes in this section.
This is the final section and takes about 50 minutes. You only have 2 questions here but they´re essay style questions. You´ll be asked to respond a question about a familiar topic in one, and in the other to integrate information from a text and a lecture. You´ll be allowed to take notes in this section.
And after this you´re done. You should give about a week to receive your test scores and if you practiced enough, then you should be straight ahead for your dream score. Now, in our next entries, I´ll go deeper into what to expect in each section, how to prepare and how to react. So, I hope that you´ll stay tuned for that soon.