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Going To Write The TOEFL? Here’s What You Should Keep In Mind

Getting a good TOEFL score is an essential step on the journey to getting yourself admitted into the institute and course of your dream

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Many universities and colleges abroad require Indian students to prove their mastery of the English language before they can gain admission to their courses and programs of study. Such students are expected to prove their language proficiency by giving the Test of English as a Foreign Language test, known as the TOEFL. It is administered by the Educational Testing Service at centres in 165 countries, and in 44 cities in India. While some colleges use TOEFL scores as only one factor in their admission process, many institutes set a minimum required TOEFL score based on the program applied for. Getting a good TOEFL score is an essential step on the journey to getting yourself admitted into the institute and course of your dream.

The test consists of 4 sections, each of which tests a different linguistic skill – reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each section has a score out of 30, for a total overall score of 120. While you can’t pass or fail the test, you should ensure that you score better than the minimum standard applied by the college or program of your choice. Here are some tips to ensure that you crack the exam and get the high score you need!

  • Be prepared
  • Each portion of the TOEFL requires in-depth knowledge of the English language, and you should begin your preparations for the examination well in advance. There are many great resources available for preparing for the exam – from books and online tutorials to companies that will train you. Whatever route you opt for, make sure that you take frequent practice tests to prepare yourself for the three-and-a-half hour exam, since this will boost your stamina and your confidence.
  • Don’t panic!
  • Most Indians are not accustomed to computer-based tests and are generally nervous through the course of this exam. Getting stressed and worked up before or during the exam will only hamper your preparation or your score. Focus on relaxing yourself and paying close attention to what the test expects of you. Follow the instructions carefully. Don’t get so stressed and rushed that you misunderstand something, say something wrong, or miss hearing something during the listening test.
  • Take good notes
  • Taking notes is an essential skill for the TOEFL examination, which will be needed in the listening, speaking, and writing sections of the test. These sections will often play audio clips on which the questions are based, and you can only listen to the clip once. Even if you have a good memory, it is always better to take good notes and have all the relevant information at hand. Don’t try to write down everything you hear – take note of everything that is essential, as that information will come in handy in answering questions later.
  • Enunciate clearly
  • For many Indians, it will be the speaking section that will be a cause for concern. You might be worried about your accent and wonder how the computer can mark you if it doesn’t understand what you’re saying. Don’t worry, the test cares less about your pronounciation and more about your clarity. The section measures how well you answer the question, your grammar and vocabulary, and how easily you can be understood by the person listening to you. Make sure that you speak at a clear and measured pace. While practicing, make it a point to record yourself so you can hear how you sound.
  • Type carefully
  • While most Indian students looking to give the TOEFL are likely to be comfortable with computers and keyboards, chances are they haven’t taken a computerised test before. Without autocorrect or the grammar-checking abilities of word processors, many candidates might stumble or err in their writing due to the change from writing on paper to typing on a keyboard. Be careful while typing out your answers, and ensure that you don’t make any typographical errors!

For most Indians coming from English medium schools, the TOEFL won’t be a difficult exam to do well in. However, its importance in the admission process and the different manner in which the examination is conducted can be a cause for concern. Make sure that you follow these tips, and are well-rested and relaxed before the examination and you should be able to sail through it. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Gurinder Bhatti

The author is the Chairman and MD, ESS Global

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