I took the TOEFL test 2 days ago and I wanted to share with you some tips on my preparation and on the test itself hoping to help the members of the gmatclub in their preparation.
Preparation - General Tips
I started preparing about two months ago, I have a very time-consuming job and I thought that I won't be able to devote too much time to the test. But I had actually plenty of time to prepare using the following ets-branded tools
- TOEFL Official Book
- TOEFL Planner (Free)
- TOEFL Quick Prep Test (Free)
I somewhat followed the preparation plan in the planner. I also practiced on two TOEFL online tests, one halfway through my preparation and one the day before the test. One is provided if you buy a TOEFL pack, if you need to buy more it will cost you USD 45 each
Preparation - Specific Tip
To specifically prepare for one section of the TOEFL, here are some useful tips, some of them have been already posted (a number of times) on this website but I can only advice everyone to take a look at them to at least understand the test (especially for those with only few days to prepare)
Reading: One of the TOEFL pack sold on the official TOEFL website provides you with a service called Engaging English. This service provides you with a measure of your reading capabilities (Lexile measure). Once you complete one practice test, you can use your score and match it with a lexile measure and better prepare for the exam. Simplistically, if you're looking to get a 30 on the TOEFL, you should be reading texts that have a lexile measure above 1600. For those who do not have time to search the internet for academic-type texts, I guess this is a good resource. Otherwise, reading few articles every day on websites like The New York Times, BBC, Reuters or The Economist is also a good preparation.
Listening: I used this website to prepare for the listening part, it provides you with 50 conversations and 50 lectures. Warning: the voice of one of the student is just terribly ANNOYING!
Speaking: Here, I have to give a round of
to rid82 for his templates available on this website. Really, really, really USEFUL. One advice though, especially for Q1 and Q2, once you get a good grasp of the question, just do it as if you were answering a friend's question. No one goes: "I believe this is right for two reasons..." in real life
Another good tip for the speaking part (which I found on this website), the notefull website. 6 good 10-minutes long videos explaining you in details what do to for each question. They also offer to review for free a sample test for you, and YES they do review your answers and get back to you with an audio feedback (same link as above - check out the TOEFL speaking practice section)
Finally, you can also watch the official TOEFL videos on youtube, you have 3 videos covering Q1/2, Q3/5 and Q4/6. A good resource too to understand quickly what this part is all about
No matter what you are using, time yourself!!!!!!!. Question 5 for instance, you have 60s to speak and you need to give some background about you the conversation, explain the problem faced by student 1, gives the two solutions proposed by student 2 and finally give your own opinion. When I say time yourself, I mean try to answer in 60s (not less not more) AND try to allocate some time for each "sub-part" of the question: Background + Problem: 15s, solutions: 10s... (notefull's videos are very useful for that)
Writing: You can check the two videos posted on the TOEFL channel and use also Notefull's free review service
Finally!. The test center was easy to find, woke up really early and was there 1 hour before the start of the test, had a good night of sleep and a massive breakfast (damn that test is long and you do need both). I have seen mixed feedback about getting there early, on one hand you avoid the stress of getting stuck in a traffic jam or something like that and you get usually a good seat in the room (I mean the proctor assigns seats on a first-come first-serve basis, the first one will get the seat on the last row which MIGHT be a quieter place to take the test), on the other hand, waiting for 45 mn in the room filled with nervous students is not a great experience!
So I sat down, went quickly through the instructions and the notorious " Describe the city you live in" mic check, and started with a reading section with 3 texts, followed by a 3-part listening section (this section is divided into subset with 1 conversation and 2 lectures, so I got 6 lectures and 3 conversations). For the reading section, nothing really complicated, I actually finished in 45mn (total time: 1 hr) and moved on. One tip for the last question, the one which ask you to summarize the text, I personally went through the text one time and read the first sentence of each paragraph. This sentence should summarize the idea of the paragraph, then you just need to find a sentence among those proposed that is close to what you've just read and that's it.
Then, the 10-minute break, went to the bathroom, drank some water (bottles provided by the proctor, nice!) and got back at it.
The speaking section, I think it went OK, this is honestly the section I am the least confident about, although I did my best to answer each question properly, I am doubtful that I am going to get 26+, we'll see.
Finally, the writing section, I got plenty of time to write and review the first text (about 300 words I think). The speaker usually follows the reading passage, it makes it easier for the listener to articulate the essay. For the second essay, I wrote about 600 words, while writing, do read the question, sometimes you can lose sight of the question itself and start digressing.
Also, I highly recommend to bring earplugs, this was really helpful at the beginning of the test and at the end (yes, you will always get the guy who tries 15 times to calibrate his mic and it is extremely disturbing when you try to focus on a text and it also useful when the rest of the center is focusing on the speaking section and you are typing your essays). If it is not allowed in your center just keep the headset on during the test, that might help. Forget to mention about the scratch paper, in my center, it was limited to 3 sheets and that's it!. Since you need to take notes for the listening, the speaking and the writing sections, it might be quite limited
That's it. I hope my debrief will be helpful for those taking the test in the future, if you have any question, please post
PS: I've tried to post with some urls but I apparently I cannot, google's your best friend!