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How to study for toefl test?

  1. Nov 20, 2011 #1
    How to study for toefl test??

    My first language it is not English and I am thinking on applying for US or British schools of physics in order to study a Master. I have, lets say, an advanced level, but I think that I have to work a little more with my English(This would be to improve my grammar, reading comprehension and listening). And I am searching an advice from some of those who have done their TOEFL test and had a successful result. Any suggestion is gratefully welcomed.

    I have visited the TOEFL ETS web page and the books they offer for the preparation of the TOEFL seem to be very useful. I would like to hear a few stories from those who have studied with the books that TOFL ETS web page suggest. The preparation they took, how long did the preparation took.

    Any suggestion or comment is welcomed.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2011 #2
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    Hello. I took the TOEFL ibt this summer and got a 115/120.

    I felt confident with my English; the thing I needed to prepare for was the structure of the test: what type of things would they ask, what time would I get, ...
    First off, I didn't buy any of their suggestions nor do I suggest that you do, but of course that's your own choice: I just find it too expensive for what it is. I simply rented one of those preperation manuals from my local library (make sure you have the most recent one that your library has; there are different kind of TOEFL tests, you'll most probably take the Toefl IBT version--check your order!). The manual went into great detail about the 4 sections (reading, listening, writing & speaking) with suggestions for how you should structure your answers in the alotted time, answering most efficiently. It had a load of practice questions and even one full practice exam (with a CD for the listening sections). Note that such a book presumes you are comfortable with your english; its focus is on making you familiar with the structure of the test such that you know what to expect. E.g. for the speaking question you can get questions like "speak about the last time you were angry" and if you're not prepared for questions like this, you might get stumped.

    So in short:
    - if you don't feel confident about your English, get an english grammar & vocab book;
    - if you feel confident about your English, get familiar with the test by renting one of those preparation manuals.

    The test is actually quite easy. The most important thing is not to get intimidated, because the time for the speaking section is quite short, yet they expect you to have a structured answer. Again, once you know what to expect, you'll do fine!
  4. Nov 20, 2011 #3
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    Can you name one??

    Which are these manuals?
  5. Nov 20, 2011 #4
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    Well I guess I could name one, but it would be random. My knowledge about grammar and vocab books is non-existent. If I were you, I'd probably use google or ask on a forum or just take one out of the library (how different can they be?).

    Just search up "toefl ibt" (assuming you're taking the computer version; check that!) in your local library and take the most recent book. I used a Princeton book, I believe.
  6. Nov 20, 2011 #5
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    Thanks :).
  7. Nov 20, 2011 #6
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    With 1.5 days of practice, I got 114/120 just two weeks ago. The test is rather easy once you just give them exactly what they wanna hear (I mean in terms of writing and speaking). You can, of course, look at enough practice books/exams/solutions to find out what ETS is looking for. But it's much faster just to rely on people who already thought about this question for a long time so you save the time to find out yourself. These videos were helpful to me:


    With this and some practicing (you find topics to speak about on that guys homepage), you should do fine on speaking and writing. In terms of listening and reading, I bought the book "The official guide to the TOEFL test" with CD. You can buy the cheapest used book on amazon and resell it when you're done - or go to the library. The book itself is not very useful, I think (way too thick just for this purpose...). But the CD contains two tests to practice reading and listening. (Maybe you can find them somewhere online... I didn't try very hard.)

    [If you have to take the general GRE test, as well, then you can practice for both tests at the same time and use general GRE preparation material in order to prepare for the TOEFL. The reading and writing parts are pretty similar (only that the TOEFL is much easier).]

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  8. Nov 20, 2011 #7
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    Are this lessons for the Toefl IBT?? and as I said before, do you have any advise for improving grammar.

    Did you do the GRE? If it is so, How did you prepare??

    by the way, those videos are great.
  9. Nov 21, 2011 #8
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    I got 113/120 two years ago. I didn't study for it, but it did help that at the time I was in a job where I was required to speak and write in English 8 hours a day.
    What I noticed is that you shouldn't really read the passages they give you. Read the questions and look up the answer in the passage. Seriously, there was no way for me to actually read an internalize the whole passage and then answer the questions.
    The speaking part is probably the easiest.
    I have no advice as to how to get over the writing part. I was lucky and managed to write a good essay. Sometimes you have no idea what to write about the subject they give you, and sometimes you do. I don't think they test your writing skills though, so just make sure your grammar is sound.
  10. Nov 21, 2011 #9
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    As someone who has a passion for foreign language (I am a native English speaker currently learning Mandarin), I am curious as to how difficult it was for you to learn English. What were the "easiest" and hardest parts of the language for you? What language(s) do you speak fluently? What languages do you know of that were harder for you to learn?
  11. Nov 21, 2011 #10
    Re: How to study for toefl test??

    Well my native language is Spanish, I think the easiest part of English is the grammar(well it was for me) because Spanish grammar structure is much more complex than English grammar structure, I think for us spanish speakers the hardest part is the pronunciation. I think the language that I speak whit more fluency is English jaja Is the only one I know besides spanish. But I think it depends of what language you are learning. For example, I am learning German and the pronunciation is much easier than english pronunciation is, but the grammar structure is little harder.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
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