Score 100+ in TOEFL iBT®— tips and resources

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Test in a Nutshell

TOEFL stands for — Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is a family of English language assessments and this article talks about the iBT (internet based test) version of the TOEFL. The test aims to evaluate your preparedness to succeed in conversations in the English language in an academic setting. The test comprises 4 sections namely — reading, listening, speaking and writing.

Purpose in application

The test serves as a filtering criterion for universities in the application process which means that all the scores above the cut-off are the same. But here comes the twist. The cut-off scores vary a lot with different universities in different countries. Hence, you cannot really prepare to aim for a specific cut-off score. Nevertheless, a score of 100 or more will guarantee that you clear 99.99% of the cut-off all throughout the world. I gave the TOEFL iBT last year around the end of October scoring a 100+ and understanding the nuisances of the preparation and time-consuming process of finding the correct resources, I wanted to write this blog to help the students save time (my scores are disclosed at the end). As a disclaimer, the blog is based on my personal experience and advice. I would be more than happy if you could share your comments, agreeing or disagreeing.

Preparation

Assessing the difficulty

The test is one of the costliest tests I have ever given with a test fee of around $190 (~₹14,600) in India. One would likely link the cost of the test with the difficulty level but it’s not linked in reality. The difficulty of the test is not really high if you have a general reading-writing understanding of English. Challenges arise for candidates from non-native speaking countries like India, Bangladesh, etc. Though the questions are not difficult given a decent knowledge of the language, the cost of the exam does create pressure that if your time management or knowledge fails you in the exam, you would have to give it again as you cannot risk your application. The TOEFL score cannot ensure your admission but for sure could sabotage it if the cut-off is not reached.

Planning and Resources

With planning ahead of preparation and accumulating resources to focus on, one can easily avert the risk of failing to score well and re-spending for the exam. There are tons of resources present on the internet for free but at the same time, they are not necessarily in an ordered manner. In my opinion, you wouldn’t have to go for paid resources to prepare as I will provide some of the best online free resources for the same.

  • Regularly listen to English podcasts to improve your listening abilities (link1, link2).
  • Practice using timed test sets given in official preparation guide (link to access it free given later).
  • Watching movies, web series, news, etc., in English can be a entertaining way to prepare as well.
  • The format of the question is well specified which means that with sufficient practice, i.e. atleast 5 times the entire section, you will not ruin the actual test.
  • Due to fixed format it is highly suggested to use a template. If you are good at using your template, I would predict you will never face nervousness given any speaking task.
  • Do not use phrases like — aa, umm, etc., and try to pace out your speech giving yourself enough time to think and speak. For example, if your speech has variations in pace, it would force you to run out of your next words and you will inevitably take an abrupt pause, that might lead to stammering.
  • Tips for scoring well in the section — https://tstprep.com/articles/toefl/ten-awesome-tips-for-the-speaking-section-of-the-toefl/.
  • Since your answer is to be typed on the computer using keyboard, you must get comfortable with typing continuously for an hour straight.
  • If you have a slow typing speed, try typing down your thoughts on varied topics, 2 topics each day. Try to write around 300 words per topic.
  • You must try completing atleast 5 sample writing section from the official guide.
  • The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test — Fourth Edition
  • Official TOEFL iBT Tests — Second Edition (free GUI version available link)

Note-Taking

All the sections, except the reading section, will require you to take notes to answer the questions. This maybe the thoughts of the speaker in a conversation, points talked about in a lecture, opinion of a student on an college announcement, etc. These notes will help you as you will not remember most of the things once the questions start.

Template

The test has a fixed format with a few variations possible. This makes room to use template for the different sections such as speaking, note-taking for listening and writing tasks. In my opinion, without deviating much from the template that you have prepared for yourself, you can easily score very high.

My Scores:

Thank you for reading it out till this point. I managed to score a 110/120 in the TOEFL iBT using the same free resources which I mentioned above. I scored a 27/30 in reading, listening and speaking and a 29/30 in writing. To understand the scoring you can go through this link (credits to Ashutosh Sahu, CSE IIT Bhilai for some images in the template).

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ASHUTOSH SONI

ASHUTOSH SONI

BTech Honours Student in the Electrical Engineering Discipline at IIT Bhilai. Interested in topics such as Wireless Communications, LTE, 5G/6G, Drones, Embedded