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TOEFL Test Prep - Study Tips

Follow these top study tips to improve your score on the TOEFL Test.

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Improve your English reading skills

Read as much English (both academic and non-academic) materials as you can.  Newspaper and magazine articles are an excellent source of English reading materials. Look to increase your vocabulary knowledge.  Developing flash cards and utilizing glossaries of textbooks are good places to start. Analyze the structure of academic texts.  Understand how to find main ideas, supporting details and connections between ideas and sentences.

Listen to Learn

You should be listening to something in English everyday.  When you are listening, make sure to try and understand the main idea and ask yourself questions (who, what, when, where, and why) about what you are listening to.  Watch English speaking television programs or videos, attend English speaking academic classes, and look for opportunities to practice listening in English.

Speak for Success

Try to find opportunities to speak with people who natively speak English.  You should attempt to speak English at least weekly. Make sure you use good pronunciation and clarity.  Audio recordings (books on tape etc.) are excellent sources to learn pronunciation and intonation skills.

Study Smart Not Hard

TOEFL Test preparation requires you to study smart – not hard!  To study smart, you need to:

* Study when you are the most alert
* Understand what’s on the test
* Focus on the material that you don’t know
* Develop a flexible study schedule


Practice Makes Perfect

It is vital that you practice for the TOEFL test as much as possible ff you want the most confidence.  To make the most out of our TOEFL practice test, try some of the following approaches:

    * Fully understand all the questions you got wrong by carefully reading the explanations on your score report
    * Take exams with self-imposed time constraints – this will help you insure that you know the material
    * Try to tackle one section of the exam at a time

Carefully Read the Full Question – Twice

Read each question twice before you look at the answers.  Read each answer twice before you answer.  People often read questions too fast and fall into traps.  The same goes for answers.  Don’t miss the question because you misread some of the terms.   You should also be careful not to read too much into the question.  Questions are typically straight forward and don’t require a “leap of faith” to answer correctly.  In other words, don’t over-read the question and look for a “theoretical” answer versus a “common sense” answer.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Some questions on your TOEFL Test require careful analysis.  Some of the wrong answers may appear to be the right answer at a casual glance.  Don’t fall into the trap that many test writers use - putting misleading answers first to tempt you to choose them.  Also, there may even appear to be more than one right answer!  If this is the case, make sure to choose the best answer based on what is in the question (not based on your assumptions).

Trust Your First Answer – it’s Usually Right

Trust yourself!  Select your best answer only after you have read the question carefully twice and all of the answers carefully twice.   Trust yourself!  Don’t change any answers unless you find an obvious error that you are sure about.  Your first answer is usually the right answer.

Keep Time on Your Side

Although the time limits on the TOEFL Test should allow you to finish your exam, it is still important to keep a correct pace going.  Determine how much time to “budget” for each question.  For example, if you have 30 minutes to answer 15 questions, then you have about two minutes per question.  After every few questions, check the time to see if you are still on schedule.  Don’t dwell on questions that you don’t know – just eliminate some answer choices and make an intelligent guess.  Conversely, don’t rush questions that you think you know – read them twice and pick the best answer.  Careless mistakes are often what separate a superior score from an average score.

Have an Answer for Everything – but Guess Intelligently

The TOEFL Test does not penalize you for guessing.  You should make sure that you answer every question, even if you are unsure of the answer or have to guess.  If you have to guess, you can probably eliminate 1 or 2 answer choices immediately.  Of the remaining choices pick the answer that you feel the best about – and move on.

Know the Tricks


If you understand the following “tricks” about questions, you’ll increase your score:

    * Absolute No No’s – Answers with absolutes such as always, never, greatest, must are generally not the correct answers
    * Beware the “except” – Questions with “except” (or “which of the following is NOT true”) are often read too fast and missed.  A good way to answer these questions is to cover the word except or not and then choose the answer that does not belong.
    * Valid information – All of the information in the question is probably there for a reason.  Don’t ignore anything in the question – you will need it to correctly answer the question.

It’s All in the Attitude

Your attitude when it comes to preparing and acing your TOEFL Test is the most important factor that you can control.  You need to be positive and have confidence.  You need to believe that you will score high on your exam.  While you are taking your exam, you need to have confidence and relax.  If you come across an answer that frustrates you – just skip it and come back to it later.  DO NOT PANIC!  If you have studied with the resources on this website – YOU WILL SCORE HIGH!

To get started preparing for the TOEFL Test, try our Free TOEFL Practice Tests.

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