Before you sit for your TOEFL (test of English as a Foreign Language) test, be sure to set aside time to prepare for this important assessment. Like many other tests, and especially so for such a language test, there is no short cut to a high TOEFL score - you have to earn it. The ETS introduced the Internet-based test (iBT) system in 2005 which allows test-takers around the world to sit for the test more conveniently. They have added a speaking component, expanded the writing section and revised the test such that you would have to use your English language skills in an integrative manner.
Apart from acing the test, make it your goal to gain a higher command of the English language by studying for this test because this is an asset you will benefit from throughout your life.
Start by searching for resources to help you in your preparation; there are tools and tips widely available both on the Internet and offline that will help you along. While studying the language is definitely important, it is also paramount that you familiarise yourself with the structure of the test and attempt mock tests as part of your preparation. Learning a language is not unlike practising a sport because the more and harder you train, you better you will get! Here are some tips that will steer you towards acing the test!
There is a wide range of handbooks that dish out helpful tips and techniques on sitting for the test, available in hardcopy or digital format. A comprehensive book should include exercises, a list of frequently tested items and sample tests. Some even come with an audio CD that features expressions commonly used in the Listening Comprehension section. Remember to pick up the copy for the newest version of the TOEFL.
Taking a practice test online on the computer will be good training ground in preparing for the actual Internet-based test. There are both paid and free preparation practice tools on the official ETS website. Do a few of these and take them as mock tests in timed sittings so you have a feel of your test-taking conditions in front of the computer. This should get your more comfortable before taking the actual test.
There are a wealth of practice resources on the Internet that are offered by language schools and practice book publishers. There are even sites that allow you to download audio clips so make use of these to practice, practice and practice!
The writing component of the test requires you to write an essay supporting your opinion in responses to materials that you will get to hear and read. To do well in this section, you would have to possess sound writing skills. While it's not hard to write a good and well thought-out essay, there are some fundamentals that need to be in every piece of essay. These include a well-planned essay structure that includes a strong introduction, body and conclusion.
Be sure to include your thesis statement, proper topic sentences, supporting ideas and statements that back up your opinion, and a conclusion that succinctly wraps up the essay by reiterating your thesis statement and main points of the article.
As there is a time limit for the writing section, practice putting together an essay by organising your thoughts and jotting them down in paper so you will be used to working under the time pressure.
In this section, you will be asked to wear a set of headphones and speak into a microphone. I find that the best way to practice for this section is - no surprises here - to engage in conversation with a native English speaker. This will definitely help you feel more comfortable speaking the language. Another way is to read out loud; this could be the daily newspaper or your favourite books. Only when you read out loud will you notice the small mistakes you make in your pronunciation, intonation, inflection and enunciation. A good way to get these elements right is to model your speech after newscasters or radio DJs. Don't be afraid to mimic them while watching the news - this is great practice!
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