How to Get a High Score on TOEFL without Going Crazy

Hello, my dear reader. You’ve opened this post, so something tells me you’re shaking in your boots right now because of upcoming TOEFL. I know what you feel, my friend. I took TOEFL this December, and in this post I’ll share my experience, give a piece of advice and reveal some secrets (warning! Having read till the end you’re doomed to pass this exam with flying colors!)

I’m going to obtain a Master’s Degree in Europe, therefore I need an official certificate that proves my language proficiency. I’ve been studying American English for 4 years, that’s why I chose TOEFL instead of IELTS. European universities accept either of these exams.

I got 93. It was a bit disappointing, because 95 equals C1, and I have just 2 points fewer. However, it’s more than enough to be admitted to a wide range of European universities (programs in linguistics and teaching.)

!Warning! Do not follow my example!

I registered for the exam in October and had 2 months to prepare. In fact, I’d been stressing out for 1.5 months and actually preparing for like 2 weeks. I postponed it, because I had too much work. What saved me was that that work was in English: university practice, tutoring after classes, daily chatting with my foreign friends. I lived in English, but if you have less practice (even if not!), please start preparing way in advance.

  • Make sure to check whether the center you’ve chosen has any covid-related rules (for example, some centers can ask for a negative PCR)

2. Study the format

TOEFL has a definite structure that you should be aware of. It checks your abilities in English, but if you’re not familiar with the format, it can lower your score.

The official page about the content: https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/about/content

Once you’re familiar enough with the test format and you’ve set a score goal, it’s time you got down to business! Here’s what I used to prepare:

  1. Improve your vocabulary for TOEFL (327 words to know): https://www.prepscholar.com/toefl/blog/toefl-vocabulary-list/
  2. Youtube playlist with a practice test (new version) — https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLo8HPysuqfKjnd3KoHyhfeStSqL8s6PPM (watch video and see answers in description when you’re done)
  3. Advice from someone who had a high score: https://youtu.be/Hw6PvrRiv20

5. This channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y8cm8k2vzU&ab_channel=Adam%E2%80%99sEnglishLessons%C2%B7engVid

6. https://toeflibtcourse.com

7. These apps:

8. This book (you can find it online):

9. What to expect on test day (official page):

…and much more on YouTube/Google

  1. Try not to panic at the exam. I was scared to death, and at some point I started doubting that I could understand English at all. I was looking at the texts and couldn’t get the gist of them. Breathe deeply and bon courage!
  2. Always answer. You’ll never be penalized for a wrong answer, so don’t leave any blank. Even if you don’t know, take your best guess.
  3. Don’t read the whole text in the reading section. It’s nothing but losing time. Read the question and the passage it refers to. (They are usually specified or go one after another, they’re not mixed.)
  4. Have an extra pen!!!!

You’re not allowed to bring your own sheets, pens or pencils. The administrator will give you them. What was my situation? My pen (their pen) died right in the middle of the listening section when you basically need to write all the time. I had to yell at the poor woman asking for a new pen. Obviously, I missed some parts of the task. Who knows, maybe I could’ve had 95 points…

6. Before leaving home make sure you have a bottle of water and your passport with you and…

Good luck!!!!!! I believe in you. Remember: if I could do it, you can do it too!

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