TOEFL Tips & Strategy

Although the TOEFL exam is largely a test of language ability, there are certain test-taking strategies that will ensure that you do your best on the exam. You can improve your English and your TOEFL score through expanding your vocabulary, listening and watching educational software programs, and concentrating on areas of grammar and usage that are particularly difficult for you. Read, listen, speak, and write more, take some specialized courses, and always learn from your mistakes!

Remember that the actual exam is on the computer. For many test-takers, this is not easy because reading large amounts of material on the screen not only dries out their eyes but makes it hard to absorb the material. Simply practice reading on the computer.


While this may be a surprising suggestion, your typing capabilities are not to be overlooked. Most people take the TOEFL iBT which is solely Internet-based; your typing skills are insurmountably important for achieving a high score on the writing section, in particular.

  • Did you know the TOEFL independent essay should be a minimum of 300 words?
  • Were you aware the integrated essay has a minimum of 150?

Many students might feel frustrated they are not able to get their ideas on the computer screen as fast as they’d like and it can ultimately end up hurting their score. Practice typing for so many hours as week, particularly if you have the luxury of studying for the TOEFL 2-3 months. Practicing typing might prove to be a welcomed break from studying the four skills!

Specific TOEFL Preparation Strategies

As the TOEFL incorporates listening, reading, writing, and speaking and combinations of each into many of its exercises, it is extremely helpful to build these skills in English programs that mixes and matches them. In addition, it is also important and essential to practice and improve in each mode expression: written, verbal, and auditory. Below too are several suggestions that you can employ in your daily lives to help prepare for the TOEFL.

Reading Section Strategy

  • Practice reading for information and facts
  • Work on vocabulary
  • Practice Skimming for Main Idea (Highlighting transitions, facts, unknown terms)
  • Practice inferences
  • Practice identifying what nouns pronouns allude to
  • Practice summarizing book, articles etc.

Listening Section Strategy

  • Listen to news, films, radio in English. Lots is accessible through the web
  • Practice summarizing lectures, programs
  • Practice identifying other aspects of statements like main idea, supporting points, examples
  • Listen for tone, attitude, levels of formality
  • Listen for transitions
  • Chart/outline ideas expressed in programs

Speaking Section Strategy

  • Speak to Native Speakers on a range of topics
  • Argue points with Native Speakers or if not native speaker more advanced speakers
  • Practice giving one minute responses to topics
  • Read articles and summarize them orally
  • Locate listening and reading material on similar topics and discuss similarities, differences, solutions to problems posed
  • Incorporate transitions when speaking
  • Try to plan quickly a response to an article or lecture
  • Work on pronunciation and annunciation

Writing Section Strategy

  • Combine reading and writing tasks by reading an article, outlining a summary of it, and then writing a summary of it.
  • Combine listening and writing as well by listening to lectures or programs and writing on them in an organized fashion.
  • Practice restating sentences in your own words.
  • Review citation rules
  • Practice writing on a range of topics within a 30 minute period. Include a thesis, supporting points and examples in your statement.
  • Work on increasing vocabulary and word choice skills
  • Incorporate transitions

Overall don’t hesitate to ask questions of English teachers, native speakers or TOEFL teachers. Questions help you not to make the same mistakes over and over and help put you on track.