8 Ways to Improve Your TOEFL® Score
There's no doubt that exams can be stressful and a even bit intimidating, and the TOEFL® is no exception. However, getting a good score in this English-proficiency exam can be a huge step towards achieving your educational and professional goals. With the right exam preparation, you can achieve your best score in the TOEFL®. Take a look at our expert tips, and see how much your score can improve.
Before the TOEFL® exam
1.Get a good night sleep and eat nutritious meals
During the days before the exam, make sure to get enough sleep and stick to a healthy diet. The morning of the exam, be sure to get a full night sleep and have some breakfast before the test so you don't have to worry about a rumbling stomach. Your brain needs fuel function, so don’t neglect it. Who wouldn’t like starting their day full of energy and concentration?
Expert tip: Start following a healthy diet and sleep schedule at least a week before the exam so it will be easier for you to keep it up.
2.Review your notes and practice any challenging topics
A few days ahead the test, make sure you look over the notes you’ve taken when preparing for the TOEFL®. Whether it is verbs conjugations, prepositions or pronouns, make a list of these, go back to your notes and complete some practice activities.
Expert tip: It's important to identify the sections that challenge you the most and focus on those. That will help you strengthen your weaker points before the exam.
3. Find a mentor and take practice tests
To make sure you hit your score we advise our students to consider two important resources: a reliable native English teacher expert on the TOEFL® and practice tests to familiarise with the evaluation. If you are looking for a qualified preparation course, featuring experienced teachers, exam-specific textbooks and online practice activities, we invite you to your nearest Kaplan school for TOEFL® advice and a free test trial. Look no further than Kaplan International TOEFL® Exam Preparation, a course offered in 16 schools in the United States and Canada.
Expert tip: Take as many practice tests as you can. The more you practice, the better your score will be!
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During the TOEFL® exam
4.Reading Section – Use your time wisely and focus on understanding each sentence
When completing the reading section of the TOEFL®, don’t rush through it. Read each sentence and make sure you know what it means. Don’t be discouraged if you find words you don’t understand. Sometimes, it is a good idea to look at the context of the sentence in order to comprehend it rather than focusing on unfamiliar words.
Expert tip: Try reading some books, newspapers, or blogs in English before the exam. The more you read, the stronger your comprehension skills will be on the day of the exam. It will also build your vocabulary skills.
5.Listening Section – Pay close attention to the context and find the fun in learning
Focus your attention on getting the idea of what each speaker is saying and don’t be concerned if you don’t understand a couple of words. This section is about gaining a solid, comprehensive understanding of the scope of the conversation.
Expert tip: A good and fun alternative to prepare for this section is watching TV shows or movies in English and paying attention to the plot and context. You can also try listening to podcasts, radio shows and chatting with native speakers.
6.Speaking Section – Don’t be shy or try to use difficult words, treat this as casual conversation with a friend
In order to succeed in the speaking section, you need to get rid of all nervousness and embarrassment. Pretend you’re having a casual conversation with an English-speaking friend, be casual and express your thoughts in a way you feel comfortable with. Though you will have to answer questions on specific topics, the focus isn’t on what you say or which big words you use, but on how comfortable you are expressing your ideas and how well you can communicate with others verbally.
Expert tip: Find a study buddy and practice your English together. If you're taking an exam preparation course, you'll have plenty of classmates and friends to pair up with!
7.Writing Section – Create an outline and don’t be scared to be creative and informal
You'll be answering questions in essay format, so you’ll need to make a few points and support them throughout a text. A quick and useful thing to do when writing an essay is to create a brief outline or structure that will be the skeleton of your text. Choose the main topics to be discussed in the essay and write your supporting ideas. Finish with a good conclusion that encapsulates and supports all the main ideas you expressed in the essay.
Expert tip: Try to finish describing a topic before you move on to another one, so every idea is clear and complete.
8.Trust your skills and relax
One of the biggest challenges faced when taking an exam is anxiety, which can impact negatively on your score even if you're well prepared. Keep positive thoughts in your mind before and during the test. Think of the exam as an opportunity to showcase and measure your skills, rather than a challenge to your weaknesses. During the test, remember to breathe deep, stay focused, take a minute to relax and most importantly, don’t doubt yourself. Trust what you’ve learned and give it your best.
Expert tip: During study periods, be sure to take plenty of breaks so you don't overload. Meditation can also be extremely helpful in calming your nerves before a big exam.
Want to know more about the exam? Or maybe you have some study tips of your own that you would like to share with us! Let us know in the comment section below.