11 TOEFL Test Day Tips That Will Help You Succeed
The Test of English as a Foreign Language sends many students looking for TOEFL test day tips each year. It is a difficult test because English is a difficult language. Perhaps the hardest, if you’re coming to it from another culture.
In the following article, we’ll be getting you ready for test day with some quick tips that will help you do your best. Let’s begin!
1. Prepare for Test Day
The first step in preparing for your TOEFL test date is to get familiar with when the deadlines for registration are. There are two before a testing date. To give you an idea of how these are spaced, there is an Aug. 24, 2020, mail-in registration deadline for the Oct. 10 test date. The online registration is due by Sept. 11, 2020.
There are four testing dates from October of this year through April 10, 2021. You’ll want to keep up with it on the ETS website, especially with the abrupt changes that have come about in the age of COVID.
Other than that, get the registration process over with as soon as you possibly can. This enables you to devote the rest of the time between now and test day to preparing for the exam itself.
2. Master the Formatting
The TOEFL test is a lot easier to manage when you’ve taken several practice tests beforehand. All the exams follow a specific format that, once acclimated to, relieve a lot of the testing day stress. Here’s what you can expect as far as that is concerned.
According to the ETS website, “TOEFL test is available in 2 formats — 1 that is delivered via the internet, and 1 that is a paper test. 98 percent of TOEFL test takers worldwide take the TOEFL iBT® test, delivered via the internet, and access continues to expand. The TOEFL iBT test is desired by universities because it measures all 4 communication skills — reading, listening, speaking, and writing.”
As for the paper-based test, it “is offered only in locations where testing via the internet is not available” and is designed “to align closely with the TOEFL iBT test in that it requires test takers to combine their communication skills.” It excludes the speaking portion that you’ll find on the iBT test.
3. Learn About Minimum Scores
It’s not really enough to simply pass the exam. The minimum score that you’ll want to shoot for will align with the study program you are trying to get in to. The primary uses of the TOEFL score will be for medical and licensing agencies as well as immigration agencies in coordination with visas for work and residential purposes. You also may just wish to take the exam as a barometer for your English-speaking skills and abilities.
By knowing what is expected from you, wherever you’re sending the scores to, you’ll have some better idea regarding the ebb and flow of the test. In other words, you’ll know what you have to get to reach a certain level of accepted quality for the specific purpose of which you’re using it.
4. Find Your TOEFL Tribe
Now that you know when the testing dates of importance are, when you’ll be taking the exam, how you’ll be taking it, and what to expect, it’s time to chart a course for preparation. The first thing you need to do is find a group of people, preferably in-person, who plan on taking the exam soon. Use them as a study group.
Study after study shows that people tend to do better in groupthink. The ability to share ideas and learn from one another accelerates the process of mastery for all types of disciplines, the TOEFL being one of many. Set up one or multiple times per week where you all decide to make a night of things. Go out, have coffee, practice in a place that makes you feel at ease. If you can’t find an in-person tribe, then seek one out online through sites like reddit or Quora.
5. Buddy Up
Once you’ve got a TOEFL tribe that you can grow and learn from, seek out a partner with whom you can buddy up when the group as a whole can’t meet. This will give you the ability to have a back-and-forth dialogue that’ll come in extra handy during the speaking portion of the exam. Stronger speaking skills will help in other areas of the exam as well.
6. Brush Up on Your Typing Before the Exam
If you haven’t taken a typing class, you might try it. At the very least, spend some time behind the keyboard so you can work the keys proficiently if taking the iBT. You don’t want to get hung up on a time limit because your ideas and knowledge are moving faster than your fingers can.
7. Arrive Early
On the actual test day, make sure you show up as early as you can to get acclimated to the location. Leaving early is also important in case there are unexpected delays to the testing location. You want to do two things: beat traffic and leave a window of time to overcome these obstacles.
Before leaving, do a thorough check to make sure you have everything you need for entrance, namely a valid photo ID. You’ll also need to sign a confidentiality statement. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just standard operating procedure and shouldn’t affect your mettle for recalling information and performing the very best that you can once the test begins.
8. Make the Best of Your Breaks
The TOEFL isn’t an especially long exam, but at 3 hours, it’s long enough to warrant a break of around 10 minutes. Make sure you put that break to good use. Review some of the prep work that you did on the sections of the test you’ve yet to take. Use the previous sections as a guide as well. Last but not least, get up and move around so your body doesn’t start to tense up when the intermission is over.
9. Ask for Help
Proctors are very limited in what they can help you with, but if you have a question that needs clarification about the test, don’t hesitate to test your luck. Simply raise your hand and wait for them to come to your computer or testing station. They’ll either be able to help or not, but you’ll know where you stand with that portion of the exam either way.
10. Manage Your Scratch Paper
You are provided with scratch paper when you come into the testing center. Ideally, you want to have done a good enough job studying that the scratch paper will only be necessary for the especially complex problems. Answering as much from memory as you can will leave you with more time and more space to work out any of the complicated details.
11. Never Say Die
You don’t get just one crack at the TOEFL, so try not to get down in the dumps if your first score is disappointing. English is a hard language to master, even for its native speakers. You’re coming to it from another culture, so be patient with yourself and don’t give up!
We Hope These TOEFL Test Day Tips Help!
We hope these 11 TOEFL test day tips will get you through the experience intact and ready to roll. What are some specific questions or issues that you’re having with the TOEFL exam? We’d like to know. Share yours in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Public Domain Pictures]