My result: 108
W 28Registration for the test
TOEFL is the test with much broader audience than GMAT. One should be well aware of this fact while planning the application process. There are much more test centers, especially in Eastern Europe, but also much more applicants. While TOEFL is required of all US b-schools, vast majority of Euro schools also accept this test. British schools let you chose between IELTS and TOEFL, but if you are applying for both UK and US schools, you will take the TOEFL. Of course, TOEFL is required for all both graduate and undergraduate programs. In addition, immigrants to North America are required to take this test in order to prove English proficiency.
In order to secure the seat, registration of at least 6 – 7 weeks in advance is necessary. Good planning of the application process is necessary and TOEFL is one of the most sensitive parts. In summary: 6 -7 weeks for registration, 3 weeks for scoring and additional 4 weeks for sending the scores to additional schools. PreparationReading
After GMAT RCs this section seemed like joke. Yes, there are 3 – 5 passages (of course, I had 5) but they are pretty simple. Passages are long but written in the plain language – nothing nearly complicated as GMAT RC. When you read the passage in TOEFL, you have clear idea what the author wanted to say, who is responsible for A, who benefited from B and who suffered most from C. Unlike readings in GMAT - absolut absence of traps and misleadings.
Another factor is time: you have 20 minutes per passage – total time for both reading it and answering to 12-14 questions. More than enough. If you apply RC timing you can say this: you have 1 minute per question – that leaves you with 6 to 8 minutes to read the passage. Come on… 6 to 8 minutes? Yes, they are longer, but fairly less complicated. In addition, most of the 12-14 questions are very easy, basic if you want. It takes far less than 1 minute per question.TOEFL OG
will prepare you for this section. Passages in OG are very similar to those on the real test – no surprises here.Listening
I didn’t have any special preparation for this section. I assumed watching TV and listening to music in the past 30 years will be sufficient to prepare me. TOEFL OG
gave me useful insight into the type of questions on the test. There are various combinations of listening and reading some short passages – nothing complicated.Speaking
Ughhhh… The shortest but toughest section of your TOEFL journey. I don’t have any sound advice how to prepare for this one. We will have to work on Walker’s idea of practicing with Skype. Fortunately, there is large pool of potential TOEFL takers on this site so I hope we’ll be able to realize that idea.
There is no way to predict ones score in this section. You can pretty fairly estimate your score in Listening and Reading sections based on performance in sample tests in TOEFL OG
. Writing section and its scoring wouldn't be any issue for experienced GMAT test takers. Speaking, however, is a real nightmare. The only way to TRY to estimate your speaking score is by using some sample answers from CD that comes with book. There is some 30 example answers variously rated - from proficient test taker to people that can barely speak some simple sentences in English. Using these examples, you have to find the test taker with speaking abilities most similar to yours. That way, you can see "where you are".
In reality - you'll have no idea what is going to be your score in speaking. In addition, you have to wait three weeks for gentlemen in ETS to show some mercy and grade your performance.Writing
As someone who had already taken GMAT, I had no problems with this section. The only thing you have to do about TOEFL writing is to get familiar with the exact format of the second essay. While first is classical analysis of an issue, the second is specific. You will have to read some academic passage which describes some scientific theory or observation. After that, you will hear some lecturer talking about the same issue. Your task is to list the differences or similarities between the text and lecture. Whether the lecturer disputed or confirmed what is stated in the text? Again, OG will be more than enough to prepare you for the task you have to perform.Test day
One of the toughest issues regarding TOEFL besides registration is the longevity of the test. Test takes some 4.5 – 5 hours of intensive monitor staring, it is comparable to GMAT, but requires even more stamina. Other than that, test is not even close stressful.
The only stressful thing about TOEFL is, again, speaking. I realized that this section is more about concentration and technical abilities of the test center than about your skills and knowledge.
I had trouble with my speaker calibration. If you want your answer recorded, you have to set speaker and earphones properly. I tried to pronounce some test sentence 5 or 6 times until test’s interface accepted it. From that point I had no problems, I used to speak “something on some topic” – more like “anything”. I didn’t felt bad after this section, I just had no clue how it gone, expecting my score in range from as low as 14 to 30. Simply, no idea.
I used to speak with some people who have proficiency in English about their experiences. One of them was my colleague who is philologist with undergraduate major in English (?). He also took the test recently, scoring 30 in all other sections but 22 in speaking. Saying that he was shocked is an understatement. He speaks English like some snobbish university professor from Middle Essex (no offense to people from that area ). I just don’t know what is going on with that section, but clearly, there is something wrong with it. As always, I have some conspiracy theories regarding this, but I’ll avoid to present them here.Aftermath
ETS informed me of my score exactly 3 weeks after the exam, which is in accordance with what they state – 15 work days. I had insight in my score online after 3 weeks, hard copy arrived some 10 days later.
Apparently, my 108 was enough for top b-schools. TOEFL really is some kind of pass/fail obstacle, definitely not something for candidate comparison. Adcoms don’t look for your sub-scores, unless stated clearly as a requirement. For example, Cambridge Judge requires subscore of 25 for Writing in addition to 100 overall. But when say “25 for W” they mean it – it doesn’t mean “25 for each section". On the other hand, US schools don’t have any kind of sub-score thresholds. Majority of them require 100 total, but there are some exceptions. HBS for example requires 109, Chicago and Wharton require 104. Stanford is in line with most US schools requiring 100.
My GMAT experience
My retake experience - GMAT dropped from 720 to 690 - advice for retakers
My TOEFL experience - 108