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Many international students consider studying in a college or university within the United States. In order to beaccepted as an international student, most colleges and universities may require them to take standardized tests.One such exam, the TOEFL, is used by universities to assess the level of English language proficiency. The TOEFLexam is necessary in academic setting to be sure students can get by in an English-speaking environment. So what isthe TOEFL? Let us take a look.
Learn About the TOEFL
The TOEFL is an entrance exam used by several top schools to ascertain international students’ aptitude within theEnglish language. The test is used to determine the language abilities of non-native English speaker by testingabilities in speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in English. The exam is administered by the EducationalTesting Service (ETS), and is offered at several different locations around the country. The test was originally apaper-based exam, but was later changed into a computer initiated test. While paper-based tests are still available,the preferred method is computer-based. The test is four hours in length and can be taken a maximum of once a week.TOEFL scores stay valid for only two years. Since its inception in 1964, the TOELF test has been taken by over 20million students.
Why Take the TOEFL
The TOEFL exam is required by almost every school for foreign students who want to study any subject in the US.While there are many requirements for international students to study in the US, the TOEFL is one of the mostimportant. Schools look to the TOEFL as one of their earliest indicators to see if a foreign student is ready tostudy in the US. Students should put in plenty of preparation to ensure they get a top score.
The main format for testing is the IBT or Internet-Based testing, which was introduced in 2005 to replace the CBT(Computer-Based testing). The CBT was officially retired in September of 2006 and so the main two formats that arenow used are IBT and PBT (Paper-Based Testing). The PBT however is rarely used and the most common format is theIBT.
The IBT format has been rolled out over a series of phases, with the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Italy as thefirst to get the new format and then the rest of the world was moved over in 2006. Demand for the TOEFL IBT test isoften very high and it is advisable to book a few months in advance to make sure you get the date you want.
The IBT consists of a 4 hour test in 4 sections which covers:
- Reading - students are given a reading passage and then posed questions about the content they have justread
- Listening - students are given a passage to listen only once and are asked questions about the conversation
- Speaking - students read passages and answer questions on a variety of subjects. These replies are digitallyrecorded and sent to exam judges to be tested.
- Writing - students are given a passage and then asked to write a passage in response to the text
The TOEFL can take up to 4 hours to complete, and students are given optional 10 minute breaks.
How to Prepare
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Preparing for the TOEFL exam requires intensive studying. This studying should encompass all four of the mainEnglish criteria.
There are many TOEFL study books that teach students about the test and potential questions. These books provide anintroduction to the exam, and go section by section to assist students in every facet of the exam. Because the examis new to a lot of students, the books do a good job of giving potential test takers a solid look at what they canexpect to see on test day.
In addition to test books, there are many different courses available for students taking the test. These coursesare taught by certified instructors who know exactly how to take the test, teach students extra tips, and are ableto give personal time and acknowledgment.
Many of these TOEFL courses can be found at English language centers, and they are designed to prepare students forsuccessfully taking the TOEFL exam. Programs typically vary in length although a typical TOEFL preparation courselasts 4-12 weeks. Many programs offer curriculums that simulate the TEOFL exam, provide in-classroom discussion,offer test taking skills, and more. Check out the following English language programs for more information:
ELS – leaders in teaching English and preparingstudents for the TOEFL, ELS offers a variety of programs ranging from 4-12 weeks long. These courses aredesigned to focus on key English language skills in addition to test taking strategies and tips. Depending onthe program selected, students have the option to take the TOEFL test at the same ELS center – making studentsfeel more comfortable in their test taking environment.
Another great way for students to prepare for the TOEFL is by take a proctored practice test offered by some of thelarger test centers. Many test prep centers offer free practice tests with results at colleges and universitiesaround the world. In addition to real scores, a student has the opportunity to learn information about courses thatthe center may offer.
While the many practice materials are sufficient for some students, many others do best having received one-on-onecoaching from a native English speaker. From a fluent coach a student can get personalized help, and focus on areaswhere they are struggling most. Many students attest that having a TOEFL coach who was fluent in the language helpedtheir scores to drastically improve. These coaches give great advice, teach students excellent feedback, and help tomake sure that they can grasp some of the more complex issues with the language. English speaking coaches are notterribly expensive and many people advertise as helpers. Coaches are a great asset to anyone needing serious helplearning the language.
Taking the Test
If you would like information on taking the TOEFL, please visit the TOEFL website as the cost and type of test youneed to take will vary depending on your country. You can also register online and book your test in via thiswebsite so please visit here for more information about that.
Night before the Exam
After the exam day itself, the most important time for a test-taker is the right before the exam. It may soundcounterproductive, but the day before the test should not be used for studying or refreshing. Students should trynot to think too much about the TOEFL. Relax and try to clear your mind instead. Students often stress themselvesout unnecessarily right before an exam.
Make sure all of your testing materials are ready and you have your directions to the testing center and yourtesting registration printed out the night before. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before, but trynot to deviate from your daily routine too much.
Remember to eat a good meal before you head to the testing center. This will help you concentrate, reduce stress,and make sure your mind is clear and prepared during the exam. It is always a good idea to leave a little early toensure that you make it to the testing center in plenty of time. Check the TOEFL restrictions and requirements tomake certain you are not bringing any prohibited items and that you will have the right materials to gain access tothe test.
Day before tip!: Relax, eat well, and rest the day before.
Preparing for Test Day
There are several materials that a student should bring with them to the testing site, including:
- Government photo ID
- All tests require students to bring a government photo ID that contains a valid signature. This ID can be apassport, a driver’s license, or any other government issued ID.
- Test ticket
- Students will need to have their testing ticket ready at the front door of the testing site and will usuallyhave to sign in before they can be escorted to their testing room.
- Bring pencils and a good eraser
- Make sure to bring some pencils and an adequate eraser.
- Bring a snack and drink
- Some students may also want to bring a snack or drink to save for the break.
- Know where you want your results sent
- At the end of the exam, students will be allowed to choose schools to which they want the scores sent.
Caution: Be sure to read your test center’s information thoroughly. Thereare many prohibited items while in the testing room like electronic devices and digital watches.
You should get your results about ten days after taking the exam. Test scores for the TOEFL may take a bit of timeto get back, since many of the sections like speaking and writing are sent to special “raters” to be assessed. Thetest is scored from 0 to 120, with each of the four sections counted as 30 points apiece. Most universities willrequire students to have a standard minimum acceptable score is somewhere in the low 60s. Top universities mayrequire a score of 100 to be found acceptable.
In Part A, you will hear two people having short conversations. After each conversation, you will hear aquestion. The conversations and questions will not be repeated. After you hear a question, read the fourpossible answers and choose the best answer.
On the recording, you hear:
Woman:Will you be at the library tonight?
Man:No way! I'vegot tickets to the game.
What does the man say?
- that he will not go to the game
- that he doesn't have a way to the game
- that he is going to a sporting event
- that he came to the library the previous night
Answer and Explanation:
In this question, answer choices (A) and (B) are both negative distractors. A student who is not paying carefulattention might hear the negative in the man's answer - "No way!" - and incorrectly choose an answer that alsocontains a negative. Answer (D) is a homonym distractor that tries to make the unwary student confuse the wordsgame and came. But in reality the man is not going to the library because he wants to attend a game of somekind. Therefore, (C) is the correct answer.
Structure and Written Expression
The question below is an incomplete sentence. Beneath the sentence you will see four words or phrases, marked(A), (B), (C), and (D). Choose the one word or phrase that best completes the sentence.
We came here ----- the beautiful beaches.
- for visit
- to visit
- for visiting
Answer and Explanation:
The correct answer is (C), which completes the sentence with the meaning of "in order to visit." Be careful notto fall for the distractors in (A) and (D). You can recognize an infinitive of purpose by placing in order infront of the word to. If the new sentence still "sounds good," it is an infinitive of purpose.
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