General Tips on Preparing for the TOEFL
If you’re planning on attending grad school in the US for an MBA or an MS in Engineering or even an MFA in Modern Dance, you will most likely have to take the TOEFL in order for your application packet to be complete. Most grad school programs have a minimum TOEFL score, and a good rule of thumb is the better the reputation of the school, the higher the TOEFL requirement will be. That being said, it is also important to remember there is no additional benefit to scoring higher than is required. A higher score will not translate into a better chance of admission.
However, in order to achieve your best score on the TOEFL, you really will need to start preparing yourself early. What follows are some tips to prepare yourself, but attending a class is not one of them. While it is highly recommended you attend a TOEFL prep course, these tips are suggestions for what you should do BEFORE attending a course.
1. Read stuff. Not stuff you like. Boring stuff. Academic stuff. The TOEFL tests your ability to understand general, academic type articles about things you are most likely unfamiliar with. So avoid newspaper articles and in-depth scientific articles and analysis. Instead, read things meant for the general undergraduate population, such as www.nytimes.com/section/science or www.aldaily.com. Another resource is The Best American Science Writing series. Although these are long-form articles, they have the same challenging topics and vocabulary as what you will see on the TOEFL.
2. Listen to things. Not interesting thing. Boring things. Not TV sitcoms (although to be honest any listening is helpful in some respect). I like www.npr.org/podcasts/ or https://networks.h-net.org/node/84048/pages/111820/academic-podcast-roundup. As you’re listening, take notes on what you consider to be the main points of the talks, as well as any details you feel are important. This will help your note taking skills as well.
3. Talk in English. A lot. Talk about anything and everything. Find a talking partner and arrange some time to specifically devote to talking in English. Something some of our students have found to be helpful is to watch a movie and then discuss it. Or you can both read an opinion or informational article and then discuss to what extent you agree with the opinions expressed by the author. Don’t be shy, speak up. Additionally, you can try various on-line platforms such as www.conversationexchange.com .
I hope you found these general tips to be helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call. And now, a sleepy duckling.
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