TOEFL Tips from Juan (Part 1)

So, you’re interested in taking the TOEFL Exam? Well, let me start off by saying that this four-hour endurance contest of a test is quite a challenge. Even for native speakers, this test could prove to be very difficult, especially if you are not familiar with each of the four specific sections of the test: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Universities want to make sure that you are at a proficient level in order to handle the heavy course load you will surely encounter in school; so while the required score for each school may differ, you usually want to score above 90 points (out of a 120 total) to prove that you have mastered the English language. If you’re thinking about enrolling in our TOEFL Prep class or perhaps you are currently in the Upper-Intermediate or Advanced course and want to give it a try, here are some tips that will prepare you categorically for this class and the exam:

1)      Read. Read. Read. Read. And after you’re finished, keep reading some more. I can’t stress how important reading is to improve your English. Go to a bookshop (Books & Books on Lincoln Rd. is a great place to start) and pick up a magazine that interests you. While novels are helpful, they may become tedious as opposed to magazines that contain short articles on topics you enjoy. Doing so will teach you how to use prepositions appropriately, build your vocabulary with collocations and phrasal verbs, show you different ways various tenses are used in complex sentences, and also how coherent paragraphs are structured.

2)      Watch television and movies. If you have time to relax, go catch a flick or turn on your television to whatever channel. Don’t limit yourself to the news either; some students believe that the news is the most beneficial way to use the television as a learning tool, but think about what tense they always use. Mostly past tense forms and reported speech, right? Sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother are not only hilarious but will give you a chance to listen to fluent speakers using colloquial English. Also, go to and listen to some of the lectures they have on the website. These types of lectures are similar to the ones on the exam and are amazing. While you’re listening, practice your note taking skills by jotting down details and main ideas. The lectures also provide a transcript so an idea would be to take notes on the first listen and then play the video again, looking at the transcript and see what information you missed that could have been important.

For more TOEFL tips, keep reading Juan’s blog post next week!