How difficult (or easy) is it to score 100+ in the TOEFL iBT (internet based test)?

TOEFL and IELTS Questions?

How difficult (or easy) is it to score 100+ in the TOEFL iBT (internet based test)?

I wrote the TOEFL on the 29th of June this year and scored a nelson (111) on the first attempt.

To introduce myself,I am a 16 year old High School Senior from India. I study in an ordinary CBSE school,and so I believe I am fully qualified to write this answer.

Trust me,if you are somewhat good at English (if you are a steady 85+ in your English exams),you can ace the test without much effort.I didn’t start my TOEFL preparation until the 9th of June since I had school and the SAT to prepare for.But I am quite gifted in English (not bragging),so I found it relatively easy to face the test.I prepared for barely 10 days and yet landed a nelson. (Reading-30,Listening-28,Speaking-27,Writing-26)

On the first day of my prep, I did nothing but a research of the test,that is,I went through an overview of the test.I made a list of the scores that would be required for the Universities where I would want to find myself next year.Then I started measuring the various sections’ scores. There is a 30 for each section,you know that. I went on YouTube and checked out a few videos by a lady named Jaime Miller. There is a “before you start preparing” video that got a SWOT analysis. Do that first.Now you know what you’re kinda good at and at what you are lagging behind. Then get yourself a prep book ( Never load yourself with too many books, it’ll only befuddle you, trust me). I used Barron’s TOEFL iBT (the hard copy that comes along with  the CDs)and an soft copy of ETS’ official guide to the TOEFL. But I downloaded and did many small exercises online (many of them were pdfs).

Let us now come to the test contents:

There are four sections:

  • Reading     x30 pts
  • Listening   x30 pts
  • Speaking   x30 pts
  • Writing      x30 pts
  1. I would advise you to throw weight on the Listening and Speaking sections when compared to the other two. This is because Listening and Speaking tend to be the sections where most of the students mess up.If you are able to ace these two sections,your TOEFL is a breeze.

    Practice listening and Speaking everyday. Listen to speeches from TV and YouTube etcetera, and master taking notes while listening.There would be some prof-student conversations on the actual test. Make sure you practise all those. You can download a lot of listening resources from the internet. This section is not at all difficult and can be aced with a little amount of work. And Speaking is something that you need to be really careful. It always bewilders the test takers about what is being looked for in this section. It is not the accent, buddy.  You can speak in a British or why,even in an Indian accent ! Butnever try to fake your accent for the test. You are sure to mess up the Speaking section if you attempt that. Be quite natural. What you gotta do is toanswer the question to the point,and at the same time, have your pronunciation right. Grammatical mistakes are also to be avoided since they are looked out for. Practise for the Speaking Section EVERYDAY.Remember, EVERYDAY.Frame your own questions and work out. Record your talk, and listen to it, and make way for corrections. The questions would be conversations,opinion-based questions,summarising a scientific topic etc. Make sure you do them good.

    And the Writing section. Practise writing everyday. Make sure you don’t breach the word limit for the first question on the writing section. I lost my points in the Writing section after I wrote 487 word instead of 225. There is a listening part in the first writing part,take copious notes.The second writing prompt is an opinion question, its all about how you express your opinion.

    The reading section is quite easy,so I don’t have much to say about it. It is the section where you can rake up the points.

    Last but not the least. The golden hard and fast rule is “Practise, Practise, Practise…..”

    Do a lot of practise tests for they reinforce your readiness. Be cool as a cucumber the day before and on the day of the test. You’ll find yourself making a lot of headway when you are at your coolest best.

It completely depends on the environment you are brought upon.

But securing 100 shouldn’t  be that difficult.

I have taken TOEFL 2 times and I can tell you that 100 is an average score.

If can split according to the sections

  • Reading: you can score 25 easily
  • Listening: If you have habit of watching English movies of any other channels, you can score 27 easily
  • Speaking: An average speaker can score 25 as they will test your speaking ability during situations like expressing yourself, your understanding of a lecture, responding to your friend’s problem, debating on campus issue.
  • Writing: Take a look at the samples in google and you’ll get to know the question patterns and it is also easy to score above 22.

Take help of some of the tons of lectures available on YouTube. Well it depends on whether your English is good or not and how much time you have till the test. By English I mean the Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking skills.

My English is above average if all the 4 skills are considered.
I scored 104 (L24,R29,W24,S27) by preparing for  7 days.

According to me a working professional should have 6 hrs of study time daily.
Work = 9 hrs
Sleep = 8 hrs
Other = 1 hr
Study =  24-18 = 6 hrs

TOEFL has four sections

L- Listening : This section can be aced by a person whose English is average or above average by practicing 5-8 questions. You may end up spending 8 hours for practice.

My Strategy
I just practiced 4 questions, that’s all. I didn’t use any strategy. I felt comfortable answering this section. Yes my score is only 24 that’s because i got an experimental question. You usually get an experimental question either in Reading or Listening.

R- Reading : This section can be aced by a person whose English is average or above average by practicing 6-8 reading essays. The strategies you apply are the key. You may end up spending 12 hours for practice.  The RC in TOEFL is lighter than in GMAT/GRE/CAT. So people who already prepared for these exams can relax.

My Strategy
My strategy was to read first 2 paras. When i do so i will know about what the passage actually is about. So once i finish reading the 2 paras i directly go to questions. One nice thing about TOEFL Reading is along with the question the para that contains the answer also is shown. Mostly first 3 question’s answers are in 1st 2 paras. From 4th question on-wards you read the question , read the respective para and then mark the answer.

W-Writing : 
This section can be aced by a person whose English is average or above average by following the Notefull templates with in 5 days. 2 days(3 hrs daily) for getting familiar with writing templates. 3 days(3 hrs daily) for practice.

My Strategy
I followed the notefull writing templates only. S- Speaking :

  • This section can be aced by a person whose English is average or above average by following the Notefull templates (see below) with in 5 days . 2 days( 3 hrs daily) for learning templates and 3 days( 3 hrs daily) for practice.
  1. My Strategy
    I followed the Notefull speaking templates only.

What are some good institutes for GRE and TOEFL in Mumbai?

What is the ideal time to take GRE and TOEFL tests to apply for US graduate school admissions in fall 2015?

To be comfortable, take it by end of July so that you still have time in case you need to retake. here’s how to plan your timeline for Fall apps-
GRE/TOEFL: take by end of July to have enough time to retake if necessary
Retake GRE if required: by end of Sep
Shortlist Schools: by end of Sep – by mid of Oct
Drop emails to relevant Professors you are interested to work with (especially for people interested in research): by mid of Oct
Apply for WES if any of your shortlisted schools require it: by end of Oct
Check for scholarships available in India: by end of Oct (so that you can apply by the stated deadlines)
Order transcripts from your undergraduate college: by Nov
Finalize SOP, essays and LORs: by mid of Nov
Fill the application online and send application packets where required: by end of Nov – mid of Dec
Follow up on the status of your applications and if the required material has been received by the schools: by mid-end of Dec
Receive results: by end of Mar
Submit financial docs for I-20: by end of Apr
Finalize your school and apply for education loan: by May
Appear for visa interview: by end of June

Arrive on the campus: by Aug (2 weeks earlier if you need to look for funding on campus)

When should I start preparing for GRE?
Well, I would say there are two categories of test takers- the ones who are not so good at English and the others who are always into reading novels and magazines. For the former, you should take atleast 4-5 months’ time before your GRE. The latter ones can manage even in a month!
Note that some coaching institutes offer you all round year coaching. I personally haven’t seen any difference in the scores of such students. In fact, you should utilize this time in research work/ academics.

What is the best time to write my GRE?
Students can give their GRE anytime over the year. However, you should give it no later than July, since you need a lot of time for preparation of your application documents and sending your scores to ETS. Generally, students start preparing from December till April, give their end semester exams in college and then take the exam in June/July. But, I have heard from my seniors, that the earlier you take the GRE, the easier you get, since there is lot of traffic in June-July which leads to more competition. Also, people around me who give it in March-April got higher scores. I can’t really assure you on this, it’s just what people say.

How much time do I need for my TOEFL?
TOEFL is very easy, just the basic English test. You hardly need a week’s preparation for TOEFL. You can give it till August.

Retaking GRE?
You can take the GRE thrice and choose the score that you want to send to the universities. One should retake GRE only and only if he is sure that he can show considerable improvement in his score, by that I mean a jump of atleast 5 marks. As per my experience, students are never able to score higher in their second GRE. But sometimes (if you have alot of gap between the two exams and you prepared really hard), people are able to score higher. It all depends on your individual preparation and ability. In my case, I decided not to take GRE as I’m not an English person. I knew that despite preparation, I won’t be able to push my score too high in verbal. Also, the cost Rs 18k is not a less amount!

When should I start preparing my documents?
Your documents should be ready well before the application opening dates. You should be ready with your list of universities, SOP, LORs, Resume, Publications (if any). Once the applications are open, there will be a great hassle for you – reminding your recommenders, getting transcripts from college, sending scores to ETS, sending transcripts to universities etc. The earliest opening dates are in September, so be prepared till then.

Should I apply as early as possible?
There is always this misconception that the earlier you apply, the better are your chances to get in! Lame!! Even I applied hurriedly very soon, but when people start getting admits, you will see people getting their admits within a week after applying while others keep waiting till 4-5 months. You should be well before your first application deadline, that is, your transcripts must also reach before the first deadline. Applying by the second deadline usually asks you for extra application fees.

Should I wait for my November semester transcripts to come?
No need. You can send the transcripts up til the previous semester that ended in May.

What are the best websites for preparing for TOEFL and the GRE?

What are good GRE and TOEFL scores to get into a top university in the US?

Although Navin Kabra has answered it pretty well, I thought I should bring in a fresh perspective, keeping in mind the current scenario for getting admitted to MS/PhD programs at the top 10 universities (being an applicant myself).

1. There is no minimum GRE score for qualifying for admission into graduate programs. Majority of the universities refrain from advertising it on their grad-school admissions page. Some do it; case in point – Graduate Admission for Masters and Ph.D. Degrees

Having said that, if your score lies in 320 – 330 bracket, it is considered to be a “safe score” . 330+ is an exceptional score. Yet, getting such a high score doesn’t guarantee you an admit. I have friends who have been rejected by the admission committee at Cornell & Stanford, with scores as high as 338 (170 in Verbal). On the other hand, some of my friends got offers from CMU at 309 and from UT, Austin at 314.

Since you are stating that you are targeting top 10 universities and MIT is definitely on that list, let me bust another myth. MIT needs 330+ to even consider your application – NO (Page on mit.edu) For graduate programs at MIT, you don’t even need to submit your GRE scores.

So, then what score should be “sufficient”, to not hinder your chances ? My response to that question would be – anything above 310 is considered a decent & acceptable score. If you have done your 10+2 schooling from India, getting 160+ in the Quant section shouldn’t be very difficult. Note: That last bit is subjective opinion and I can’t generalise it for other students. 

2. There exist a minimum TOEFL score requirement for applicants wishing to apply to any university in the states. This score hovers around 80-90. Sometimes, its even 100 (Page on mit.edu). TOEFL comprises of 4 sections – Reading, Listening, Speaking & Writing. Of the 4, Speaking is the most relevant for the application process.

This is because,for a lot of students (international students), the program cost (tuition) on an average of ($30k-$40k) + living expenses are of the order of ($10k-$20k ).

To cover the expenses, students apply for TAships and in-order to teach somebody, you need to able to converse in English properly. This is judged by the Speaking section in TOEFL which ranks you on the scale of 0-30. Some universities, have a cutoff hovering around 22-25 for speaking section. This cutoff decides whether or not a candidate is eligible for TAships in the near future.

So, then what should students “aim to score” in TOEFL, keeping in mind all these factors ? I would suggest, anything above 100 is sufficient with a score of 25+ in speaking section. Also, after preparing for GRE, TOEFL preparation hardly requires 1-1.5 weeks (for understanding the pattern of the exam). Again, this time-frame is subjective to change and it would be unwise to generalise it for all students.

Although Navin Kabra covered this point, yet I would like to re-iterate this point –
GRE and TOEFL scores are basic eligibility criteria. Your SOP and LOR matter(A LOT MORE ) to the committee, since they are only medium for them to understand “what the applicant is really all about ?” ! Your CGPA at the UG level gives them an idea about how well you would be able to manage the coursework at their university, and hence it is necessary while reviewing any application.

PS –

Some points about shortlisting universities (for EE/CS major) –

To get an idea about the different tier of universities present in the states, have a look at – I am a CS student wanting to get MS at US university. Where should I apply other than UC Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT? (Subjective to MS in CS)

To get an idea about the which universities to apply for MS in Signal Processing/Communication Systems, have a look at – What are the best colleges in US, in the field of Signal Processing and Communications to get a Masters degree? (Subjective to MS in EE)

To get an idea about which universities offer best work in VLSI CAD domain, have a look at – Pasquale Ferrara’s answer to What are the best VLSI CAD research groups in US universities?

Good GRE and TOEFL scores are necessary, but not sufficient to get into any top 10 US university.

I’ve heard an admissions committee member of a top 10 University say this: “All Indians get high scores in GRE, and excellent recommendation letters, and well written SOPs. We don’t know why, and we don’t care. If the candidate’s GRE score is good, and recommendation letters and SOP are good, we just ignore both of those and use other criteria. If any of those are not up to the mark, we reject the candidate.”

So what criteria are actually used?

  • Preference is given to colleges in India that the selection committee members have heard of.
  • If a student from college X will GPA/Percentage Y does well in the university, then the university starts regularly taking students with GPA greater than Y from college X. (Of course, if the student does badly, they’ll increase the cutoff percentage, or worse yet, stop taking students from X.)
  • Occasionally, they take a chance on an unheard of (for them) college, and admit someone based on a strong resume. That person pretty much holds the fate of the future students of that college in his hands.

So your best bet is to apply to universities where your seniors have gone before.

Where can I get last 10 years toefl questions?

TOEFL is an exam which checks your english competency. It’s not that hard to score good in TOEFL. You should get familiar to the exam rether than going through last 10 years papers.

I highly recommend Barrons TOEFL IBT book, this book contains 8 tests in a CD. Practicing these tests will be more than sufficient to help you achieve good score in TOEFL. It helped me to achieve 105 in just 1 week. I didn’t even read the book just practiced the tests contained in the CD which made me familiar to the exam.

Yes,their are good number of websites which offer free practice test.British Council the co-owner of the Ielts test itself is offering 10 hrs of free practice test through it program called as Roadtoielts.

Apart from these British Council also offers loads of material for practice on its various websites.Idp another co-owner of Ielts also offers practice material for students.Their are good number of blogs and forums available on Ielts where bloggers and visitors share their experience and knowledge and material for the same. In addition to the above you can also become a member of fb groups where test takers share material for practice. I am aware about a institute which also offers free mock test for ielts on thier poratl you can take a test  indiviudual modules on ieltsguru website

I want to start preparing for GRE and TOEFL. What are some guidelines?

While a good GRE preparation takes 3-5 months on an average, if your English is decent enough, TOEFL preparation would not take more than 2-3 weeks. Therefore, instead of preparing for both, take 1 at a time – ace GRE first and then prepare and complete TOEFL.

Structuring your GRE prep:

A good footballer always judges where the goalpost is and how far he is from it before attempting to score. To ace a test like GRE, you must act like the footballer.

  1. Know the goal post– Research on the schools and programs you are interested in. Study the profiles of admitted students and see where you stand profile-wise. This will also give you some insight on the likely GRE score you would need to be considered.

Please note – GRE is one of the many factors considered by institutes (at least for the good ones) and your entire profile is measured before being given an admit. For example, a student

  1. Know where you stand today– Take a diagnostic test to start with in simulated environment to assess where you are today. You can one of the PowerPrep II test here. Download it from:

POWERPREP II Software

  1. Create a plan and stick to it– this is where many people lose out. While, it is essential to build an efficient plan, it is equally important to adhere to it religiously. Once you have taken the diagnostic test, understand the areas you need to improve. If needed, join a training program. Start by learning the concepts in these areas and bolster the prep by practicing a lot of topic specific questions (ETS Official Guide is one source you can consider). Track the time you spend behind a question using a stopwatch, Take a mock test every week or so to ensure that you are improving. Analyze your performance both topic wise and difficulty level wise. Also, maintain a list of common errors you are prone to and revisit it every now and then – it is always good to know your mistake areas. Save the other Powerprep test for the week before the actual test.

Hope it helps!

Can we take TOEFL exams without taking any tuitions?

TOEFL is quite literally a test for your English proficiency. So, if you think you have a decent command over the language, no such tuition or coaching classes is required.

I scored a 112/120 in the test and “practiced” for only 4 days during which time I stuck to only ETS material and read all the online free ETS content on TOEFL.

ETS material is the best for an kind of ETS exam be the GRE or the TOEFL. Kindly stick to their content and you’re sure to do good!

Practice Listening and Speaking sections for TOEFL well in advance and stick to forming simple yet accurate sentences and try to express the question wholly in the 45s given to speak. I used many “ummm”s and “err”s and still scored a 29/30 in the section. Don’t worry about stammering and fumbling a little. This is allowed in the TOEFL. They’re only looking for language fluency. As for listening, LISTEN CAREFULLY to all the content ever said. It will be slightly on the harder side. So, keep your ears peeled and jot down notes quickly. This is of vital importance.

Reading section is long but it’s fairly simple if you know basic English. Work through this section fast and divide time properly for each set of questions. Practice the summary type of questions you will encounter in this section well. This is the only hard part of the section. Synonyms and antonyms need to be worked on if you aren’t proficient in English.

Writing was for me really simple. I wrote GRE grade essays and scored a 30/30. So, try to get a little fancy with vocabulary here. It’s awarded with full marks!

I hope this helps! Cheers!

What is the best study material for TOEFL?

As an instructor, I would follow Amir’s suggestion but remove Kaplan. It is a popular source of study but doesn’t copy the style of the TOEFL well enough to be as helpful as spending time studying Delta, Barron’s, or Cambridge.

Also, make sure that you understand that the speaking and writing sections of the exam are not exactly as described in these books. You can find lessons to help you with this on YouTube.

Get free practice by searching for “ouliogroove speaking” or “ouliogroove writing” that’s close to the exam on YouTube(though not exact, it’s better than all of those books). Also, get free lessons by searching for “notefulldotcom” on YouTube.

I’m Joseph from NoteFull, so if you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask; I’m here to help and good luck with your studies! Some of the good books are

  1. The official Guide to the TOEFL test.
  2. Barron’s TOEFL iBT.
  3. Official TOEFL iBT tests with audio.
  4. Speaking and writing strategies for the TOEFL iBT.

Managing time in the TOEFL exams is the crucial part. So practicing a lot will really help. Take as many practice tests as possible. There are lot of online resources as well. Good luck!!!

Which one is easier, IELTS or TOEFL? How much time is required for the preparation if I have good English?

If both IELTS and TOEFL are applicable to your needs, use the following guidelines to decide which test to take:

Accent: Choose IELTS if you are comfortable with British accent or TOEFL if you are more at ease with American accent.

Typing or Writing: If your typing speed is not good then don’t take TOEFL, as it requires you to type your essay answer. IELTS, on the other hand, allows you to write your essay answer.

Test duration: IELTS is a shorter exam than TOEFL requiring 2 hours 45 minutes. TOEFL takes about 4 hours to complete. So if you want to give a shorter exam, then go for IELTS.

Types of Questions: TOEFL contains only multiple choice questions, whereas IELTS has other formats of questions like fill in the gaps and matching along with multiple choice questions. You can choose the exam according to the question format you prefer.

Schools in the US or UK: If you are applying for an institution in US, then consider taking TOEFL since it is more widely accepted in the US. For UK, IELTS is the preferred choice.

I wrote this answer over two years ago when I was in my final year in college. However, I did not end up going for a masters as I had a decent job offer in India. Now, I wrote the IELTS again in Bangalore on Nov 13th 2014. As a result of the experiences, I think the following should also be thought of while applying:

  1. IELTS is organized by three different organizations. The British Council, IDP and some other “non-profit”. Four of us friends registered for it at the same date, and we ended up going to different test centers because we had registered through different websites. And we realized that only on the date of the test!
  2. The guys at the British Council are very unclear on how they send scores to universities. The lady who was in-charge of the examination gave as an answer as vague as an answer can get.
  3. The scores are sent by Speed Post to you. My friend missed one character in her address and the postman took the score card back. It took 10 days and at least half a dozen phone calls to get the score card back.
  4. Sometimes, they just don’t release the score card on time. Mine got delayed for more than two weeks because they were doing some kind extra checking for my sheet. I missed a deadline because of that.
  5. They require you to get a clear photocopy of your passport. They made me walk around 1-2 kilometers to get another one, and when I got it, they said that they need a colored one. I just walked off after that.
  6. The speaking test is at a different date. People are allotted slots accordingly. However, if you are a girl/woman in India, there is no guarantee that you would given a day slot. My friend was made to interview at 6.30 pm, and then made to walk for at least 3-4 km to get a colored photocopy in pitch black roads.
  7. Their re-evaluation process is very slow and cumbersome. I got 6.5/9 in my writing section while I was expecting 7.5-8 since my essays were very good by my standards. I also got 4.5 out of 6 in GRE so I thought it would be fair to expect a decent score in IELTS as well. When I called up the person for re-evaluation, he said it would take 6-8 weeks and around 50 USD. I just dropped the idea.


Original Answer:

It is a little difficult to determine which one is easier, but you should keep in mind the following points before opting for one.

IELTS is organised by a bunch of British folks (or should I say the Commonwealth?) while TOEFL is organised by ETS (American). Needless to say, the examinations fit the stereotype.

Although most US universities (MIT, CalTech, UIUC, UofM) accept IELTS, a few like Stanford do not. I did not come across any university in Europe and elsewhere which does not accept IELTS.

All the universities I applied to accepted IELTS.

After a through examination of pros and cons of both, I chose IELTS and attempted it in Mangalore on a fine day in Oct 2012, got a score of 8 (out of 9).

From my perspective, the differences are as follows:

  • Unlike ETS, IELTS doesn’t say that the scores would be not be authenticated unless they are sent by them. As a result, you do not have to specifically send scores through IELTS. However, for TOEFL, you need to send scores via ETS and pay 35 USD for every extra university, you’re given four free ones.
  • Lengthwise, they’re almost the same (around 3-4 hours).
  • IELTS is paper based while you’d be staring at a screen in TOEFL
  • Since you write on paper, it might be very difficult for you to edit what you’ve written in IELTS, while in TOEFL, as it is computer based, it is relatively easier to edit. People who have forgotten the art of writing on paper may find it difficult in IELTS (I did).
  • IELTS is generally organised in 3-4 star hotels (in India at least), while TOEFL is usually conducted in a cramped cyber-cafe turned into an exam center (in Bangalore).
  • In TOEFL, only American spellings and accents are used, while in IELTS, a a variety of spellings and accents, including the British and the American ones, are used.
  • While you speak to a “trained professional” in IELTS, you speak into a microphone in TOEFL. In TOEFL, a friend of mine complained of  disturbances around him while he was speaking. I found my experience really good, had a nice little chat with an old lady about politics and stuff.
  • My friends who wrote TOEFL, generally complained of headaches at the fag end the exam, mostly because of staring into the screen for 3-4 hours continuously. Those who wrote IELTS felt as we were writing our tenth standard English board examination, pretty smooth, were served cookies and coffee after the exam.
  • Applying for IELTS is a little tricky, first you register on their website, then you send photographs by snail mail to them. It is completely done on-line for TOEFL. I had some trouble doing it on-line, so filled up a (paper-based) form and sent a demand draft for payment.
  • Overall, IELTS feels of more “quality” than TOEFL, but if you’re applying to Stanford, TOEFL is the test for you.

How many days do I need to prepare for TOEFL?

For someone with a fairly decent grip on the language and the American accent ( catch some shows on Star World) , it should not really take more than 3 to 4 days. Look for sample tests if available and take one. Based on the result of a sample test, you can get a ballpark of how much prep you need.
In my case (which i guess is highly individualised), i spent 2 days prepping for the test and received a 119/120. Am not sure if my answer helps, hence bottom line is : take a sample test and you will know

TOEFL: I have exactly 30 days to take the IBT TOEFL. What is the best way to prepare to get the score of a 100? I am stressed about this test. Can I get over a 100 if I prepare well in a month?

A month is a reasonable time to prepare for TOEFL. This is true, provided you’ve been reading and writing a lot of English all through your academic and personal life. I’ll come to this point later in my answer. First, on how you should spend your 30 days.

#1 Buy a book
The book isn’t that important. But the CD that comes with it, is. You can of course, torrent the CD content, but having an updated CD helps.

#2 Familiarize with the pattern of TOEFL
While preparing, I realized that TOEFL is hard because it’s a complicated exam. I found its structure very complicated. The listening and speaking sections, especially are very demanding. The Speaking Section is hard, because it’s a standardized extempore! To do well in TOEFL, eliminate the element of surprise by knowing which type of question after which one. Invest as much time as you have to, in this step.

#3  Start by preparing for Speaking Section
Speaking Section comes and goes at a surprising speed. The sequence of sections in the exam is – Reading, Listening, [break], Speaking and Writing. The Speaking Section takes about 20 minutes, and needs enormous concentration. In the actual exam, test-takers start speaking at the same time and it’s hard to keep their answers out of your mind (even with noise-cancellation headphones) while attempting this section.
First of all, realize that Speaking Section is not a conversation. In IELTS, you’ve a conversation with a certified examiner. In TOEFL, you speak into a microphone and your answer is recorded. This is awkward because, while you’re being recorded every word you say is permanent. And the time for each answer, to each question varies. Some are 60 seconds, some are 2 minutes. Right at the start of the answer, you’d have to pace yourself so as to make all the points.
Doing all of these require instincts. It’s like learning to catch a ball. On paper, it’s a hard exercise. You’ve to measure the trajectory of the ball, taking into account gravity and have to pace yourself based on how far you’re from the estimated point of balls arrival. In real life, these things are easy, because we play a lot of cricket! And that’s what you’d have to do with Speaking Section of TOEFL.
Install a recording app on your mobile. Take the TOEFL book, read the tips they give for attempting the Speaking Section. Then answer the questions. If the question says you’ve 30 seconds to prepare, practice the notemaking for 30 seconds. Notefull videos on YouTube are excellent places to learn the note-taking skills.
Answer the question in a uniform tone. You shouldn’t be excited while answering the question or shouldn’t answer it in a monotone. Use the inflections of a BBC News anchor and not of Arnab Goswami. The CD will have recorded examples. Listen to them, and speak like them. In the speaking section, fluency and consistency have higher weights than content of the answers. If you’re asked a question, where you think you can make a lot of good points, don’t attempt to say everything that you come up with. You’ll run out time! (happened with me, and cost me 3 points!)

#4 Prepare taking notes for listening section
I’m a voracious note taker. I wrote down everything that was being said in the lecture. There are tips as to which points you should concentrate, but I noted down everything that listened to! Your notes would be shorter if you read “how to take notes in listening section” blog somewhere, but I skipped their advice. It’s an impractical way, but you’ll get 30/30 in the exam, if you write down everything that was spoken in the question!

#5 Prepare the Writing Section like GRE analytical writing
TOEFL’s writing task is easier than GRE, because all then want from you is a cohesive structure in your writing. Avoid spelling mistakes like plague and grammatical mistakes like the Ebola. You’re not expected to be a grammar Nazi, but you should avoid common grammatical mistakes. The foremost point – Type as much as you can! Higher word count = higher marks. However, don’t boost the word count by unnecessary words like, “So” or using a large number of adverbs. While practicing writing section, use the Hemingway. It has improved my writing considerably.
There is an integrated writing task in this section, which comprises of listening to a lecture and writing about it. There’s no need to make notes on the details mentioned the lecture, because the transcript will be available while you attempt the task. Use the lecture to note points, and design a structure to your writing while the lecture goes on. Before the lecture ends, you should’ve figured out where the lecturer wanted the students to focus.

#6 Do 2 Reading Sections before the exam
Reading section is long. It’s Breaking Bad-style long. You’re not expected to have patience to practice many passages. But, practice at least two. Reading section has only one complicated part – Writing the Summary of the passage. Practice this part for as many passages as your patience permits, because this is the only place where you can lose marks.

A month is a reasonable time to prepare for TOEFL. However, if you get a 100 or 90 or 110 depends on how much time you’ve spent with English. I prepared for ten days, with intensive focus on the pattern of the exam. My final score was 117, with 27 in speaking section (from my answer, you probably have deduced that I’m paranoid about that section!).
I owe all of those marks to my GRE preparation, 4 years of watching every Emmy wining English TV Series, and novel reading (I wasn’t an avid reader though. With an average of three books a year, during my college).
So, do not be stressed. TOEFL can be hacked, but you have to approach the exam preparation scientifically.

Which test (TOEFL or IELTS) should I give, if I am planning to apply for masters degree in germany?

Really it depends on the institution. They will have the language requirements somewhere on their website, most schools will accept TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge exams. The “level” you are expected to have to begin a Master’s programme is generally CEFR C1. This generally corresponds to a pass on Cambridge English: Advanced (formerly called CAE), IELTS band 6.5-7 or a TOEFL score of 100. Of these I’d say 100 on TOEFL is the hardest to achieve because of the way they give the exam and the IELTS is a little easier than the CAE to pass (there are less specific grammar and vocabulary questions on the IELTS).

How do I get 110/120 in TOEFL?

I got 110/120 in 2 days of preparation. My office schedule didn’t allow more time. I ll just share my experience.
Firstly, a 100+ plus score is good enough.
But depending on the amount of time you have for preparation, go through videos onnotefull.com to familiarize yourself with the basics. Your exam would consist of reading, listening, speaking and writing sections. If you are hesitant about speaking then make sure you practice speaking on 3-4 topics in front of your family/ friends to gain confidence.
Secondly, its important to adjust to the exam pattern. Make sure you refer to the ETS official guide for TOEFL exam. All I did was the 5 mock TOEFL tests in the guide. It comes with a CD to help you practice listening and speaking as well. Also makes you comfortable with the exam pattern a little bit.
So don’t freak out. It will basically be the usual English comprehension questions we used to get in the English exams in school, the writing part would be similar to writing an article in the exam. The listening and speaking part would need a little bit of practice. Try and be as confident as possible. The exam is very easy. As long as your basic language skills are brushed up, you ll do great.

How difficult (or easy) is it to score 100+ in the TOEFL iBT (internet based test)?

I wrote the TOEFL on the 29th of June this year and scored a nelson (111) on the first attempt.

To introduce myself,I am a 16 year old High School Senior from India. I study in an ordinary CBSE school,and so I believe I am fully qualified to write this answer.

Trust me,if you are somewhat good at English (if you are a steady 85+ in your English exams),you can ace the test without much effort.I didn’t start my TOEFL preparation until the 9th of June since I had school and the SAT to prepare for.But I am quite gifted in English (not bragging),so I found it relatively easy to face the test.I prepared for barely 10 days and yet landed a nelson. (Reading-30,Listening-28,Speaking-27,Writing-26)

On the first day of my prep, I did nothing but a research of the test,that is,I went through an overview of the test.I made a list of the scores that would be required for the Universities where I would want to find myself next year.Then I started measuring the various sections’ scores. There is a 30 for each section,you know that. I went on YouTube and checked out a few videos by a lady named Jaime Miller. There is a “before you start preparing” video that got a SWOT analysis. Do that first.Now you know what you’re kinda good at and at what you are lagging behind. Then get yourself a prep book ( Never load yourself with too many books, it’ll only befuddle you, trust me). I used Barron’s TOEFL iBT (the hard copy that comes along with  the CDs)and an soft copy of ETS’ official guide to the TOEFL. But I downloaded and did many small exercises online (many of them were pdfs).

Let us now come to the test contents:

There are four sections:

  • Reading     x30 pts
  • Listening   x30 pts
  • Speaking   x30 pts
  • Writing      x30 pts

I would advise you to throw weight on the Listening and Speaking sections when compared to the other two. This is because Listening and Speaking tend to be the sections where most of the students mess up.If you are able to ace these two sections,your TOEFL is a breeze.

Practice listening and Speaking everyday. Listen to speeches from TV and YouTube etcetera, and master taking notes while listening.There would be some prof-student conversations on the actual test. Make sure you practise all those. You can download a lot of listening resources from the internet. This section is not at all difficult and can be aced with a little amount of work. And Speaking is something that you need to be really careful. It always bewilders the test takers about what is being looked for in this section. It is not the accent, buddy.  You can speak in a British or why,even in an Indian accent ! Butnever try to fake your accent for the test. You are sure to mess up the Speaking section if you attempt that. Be quite natural. What you gotta do is toanswer the question to the point,and at the same time, have your pronunciation right. Grammatical mistakes are also to be avoided since they are looked out for. Practise for the Speaking Section EVERYDAY.Remember, EVERYDAY.Frame your own questions and work out. Record your talk, and listen to it, and make way for corrections. The questions would be conversations,opinion-based questions,summarising a scientific topic etc. Make sure you do them good.

And the Writing section. Practise writing everyday. Make sure you don’t breach the word limit for the first question on the writing section. I lost my points in the Writing section after I wrote 487 word instead of 225. There is a listening part in the first writing part,take copious notes.The second writing prompt is an opinion question, its all about how you express your opinion.

The reading section is quite easy,so I don’t have much to say about it. It is the section where you can rake up the points.

Last but not the least. The golden hard and fast rule is “Practise, Practise, Practise…..”

Do a lot of practise tests for they reinforce your readiness. Be cool as a cucumber the day before and on the day of the test. You’ll find yourself making a lot of headway when you are at your coolest best.

Good Luck!

 

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