What is TOEFL? And how do you prepare for the exam?

Date: July 31, 2018

What is TOEFL? And how do you prepare for the exam? 

If you are a foreign student, and/or a non-native English speaker wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities, you might find yourself asking about the TOEFL Test. What does it stand for? What is it? Do I need to take it?  Your list of questions is probably endless. And we’re here to help answer them!

First, what is the acronym?

TOEFL is an acronym for Test oEnglish as a Foreign Language.

Second, what is it exactly?

TOEFL is an exam that tests English proficiency and is offered to evaluate the English speaking and understanding ability of a candidate.

 Lastly, do you need to take it?

If you come from a country, where English is not the official language, the majority of universities and colleges require applicants to submit their TOEFL score. At The City College of New York, we conduct a full assessment of student's academic records. All applicants from countries such as India, China, Taiwan, Japan, countries in Latin America, most countries in Europe and Africa, are required to submit their TOEFL (or IELTS) score. TOEFL score reports must come directly from ETS (Educational Testing Service) to be official.  There are different minimum score requirements for each college, so keep that in mind when applying!

 In City College, alone, there are over 104 languages spoken throughout our entire student body! Our non-native speakers have a TOEFL score average of 61 on the web-based test and a 500 on the paper-based test. 

Preparing for your TOEFL exam is not a complicated process at all.

In the exam, you will be tested in four areas: reading, writing, listening and speaking. What separates the TOEFL exam is that it is about utilizing the English language in real-life settings. No need to worry about memorizing complex grammar rules and definitions that are not used in every-day conversations.

Below you will find a few helpful tips on how to prepare for your TOEFL exam.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the test format.

If you visit the official TOEFL website, you will find information on how the test is formatted. The test always has three parts: reading, writing and listening.

Paper-based Test:

  • Listening: 30-40 minutes, 50 questions
  • Writing: 25 minutes, 40 questions
  • Reading: 55 minutes, 50 questions
  • TWE: 30 minutes, one essay
  1. Understand the reason WHY you are taking the test.

Do you know that over 10,000 colleges, universities, job agencies, and institutions require the TOEFL Test in over 130 countries? It’s important to know why you’re taking this test. Whether you’re looking to determine what level of English you’re in, applying to a university, for a job, or for immigration requirements.

  1. Know what the minimum score requirements are & keep this in mind.

If your ideal sore has a minimum score requirement of 550, then your ideal score might be 575, and higher. Once you have this in mind, you can better prepare yourself and study at an appropriate pace to reach your goal (or higher).

  1. Take a test preparation course!

While studying on our own is ideal for those who need more flexibility in their schedule, there are classes you can take that don’t conflict with your family life, or work. Schools, such as City College’s Office of Continuing and Professional Studies, offers a TOEFL Prep class once a week, on Saturdays, for a few hours, early in the day.

In this particular preparation course, students learn test structure, test-taking strategies, and how to master different methods for reading and writing.

  1. Read For 30 Minutes Every Day

The TOEFL test’s reading section is comprised of different passages that you will have to read, then answer questions that are related to the content. To prepare yourself for this, read for at least 30 minutes every day. Again, these can be non-technical English content such as news stories, short stories, and fiction.

Understand that when you’re reading, you also improve your vocabulary. As you read, be sure to highlight or underline new words you come across. Look up their definitions after you’ve finished reading, and create flashcards for yourself. Then try to use the new words in a sentence throughout your day.