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A beginners guide to TOEFL Preparation by Jeet Biswas

TOEFL is a language proficiency exam conducted by ETS. The scores are accepted by universities from all over the world.

When I decided to start my Masters in Germany, almost all the Universities were asking for either TOEFL or IELTS score. Not only for Masters, this score is also used for work visas. So in this article I’ll be writing about my experience with iBT.

There are two variation of the exam the iBT- Internet Based Test and the Paper-Delivered Test. iBT being the more popular and accepted test, this blog briefly describes my experience with iBT preparations.

About the Test

Like all other language exam. TOEFL iBT also has 4 sections Reading -60-80mins. Where one has to read 3-4 passages and answer the questions accordingly. Listening- 60-90 minutes. Where the examinee is made to listen lectures or classroom discussions or conversations. Then based on them one has to answer some questions. Speaking - 20mins Where one has to express an opinion on a topic or has to answer some answers based on some listening or reading tasks. Writing - 50 mins where one has to write an essay on a given topic. There is usually a 10 mins break after the completion of first two section. Highest Marks achievable is 120. For English speaking countries like US, Canada or Australia it’s very important to have scores above 105. However for countries like Germany or France 90-95 is also sometimes enough.


An examinee needs to register online. Choose a centre based and make the payment. It’s pretty easy and detailed fee and guide is present in the ets website.


The tests are not evaluated at the examination center. Rather they are evaluated through a centralized scoring network. The evaluators are from all over the world. So chances of having biased results are very less.All the centers have to maintain particular standard. So there are no unfair centers. An examiner can choose any center according to their ease.

How to prepare

Let’s be honest, the exam is not cheap. So there is no point wasting time. The earlier one starts preparing better. The ETS provides free and paid materials for preparation. Practice makes a man perfect and in my personal opinion 90 mins practice everyday for 8-12 weeks is enough to get a good score. For Reading section it is very important that a person can read very fast. Reading newspapers regularly and novels helps a lot. Also while reading consulting the dictionary is a very good habit. It enhances the vocabulary and is very helpful for exam. During the exam my suggestion would be first read the questions then start reading the passage.

For listening section hearing podcasts and english radio station can be very helpful. For me hardest part was to pay attention for the complete duration. Also sometimes listening to sports commentary can be helpful. Speaking section is the most challenging section for the non-native speakers. To improve my speaking I used to mute TV while watching football games and then did commentary myself. For speaking section speaking fast or speaking with a perfect accent is not important. Rather one should focus on clear pronunciation and grammatically correct statements with proper pause. Writing is where the scope of scoring good is easier. Everyday writing one short article on any random topic can be be very helpful. Proper usage of grammar, spellings and punctuation is more important than using complex vocabulary. Since user has to type and not write on a paper, so special emphasis has to be given on typing practice. The examinee can write in their own style but what is most important is that the article should end with a proper conclusion.

Day of Exam

The exam day can be very hectic. It’s a long exam and sitting in front of a computer for such a long time can be exhausting. So it’s very important to have proper sleep the night before exam and a proper meal before the start of the exam. To condition yourself for the exam, you can try mock exams at a time similar to the exam time.

To conclude everything, the TOEFL iBT is a tough and expensive exam. But it is not impossible to crack. In fact every year thousands of candidates write it successfully. With proper preparation you can crack it too. For better performance my personal suggestion would be prepare in group. Mutual correction, feedback and strategy discussion can help you ace the exam with flying colours.


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