Last week, Juan, our TOEFL teacher, wrote an incredibly helpful and detailed blog post giving students some tips for taking the TOEFL. We decided to split the blog post into two pieces and part 2 is below. Keep reading if you want to find out more helpful TOEFL tips.
3) Familiarize yourself with university jargon. The TOEFL Exam contains examples of students talking about dormitories, bookstores, classroom facilities, types of courses, and also examples of students having conversations with advisors. Phrases like, “drop a class” or vocabulary words like “semester” or “Fall Term” should be familiar to you. Visit the websites of universities you are considering to apply to and search around. Not only will you pick up the jargon but you will also learn more about the school you are interested in (most have an International Student section which will provide you a minimum TOEFL score).
4) Surround yourself with native speakers and initiate conversation with them. Many questions on the exam will ask you to describe personal events or explain why you would prefer one thing over another. For example, “When you have a problem, who do you go to for help? Describe this person and explain why they are close to you. Use details and examples to support your answer” or “Would you prefer to travel alone or in a group? Give reasons and examples to support your answer?” These types of questions often come up when you are getting to know someone for the first time, so it’s a good idea to go somewhere like a bar and have chats with new people. You’ll also make friends in the process!
5) Writing is an important. You may hate doing it, but it is something that must be improved if you wish to do well on the exam. Keep a daily journal. At the end of the day, write a bit about what you did and then write what you plan to do the next day. This will get you in the habit of writing coherently and linearly. Find a list of phrasal verbs. For every new word you encounter, write it in your journal with its definition (not translation!). It takes time to use a new word fluently and just writing the definition is not enough. Take the time to write five sentences with each word using different grammar structures. For instance, pick a word from your list and write a sentence using the past perfect, present perfect progressive, passive voice, nonrelative clause, and a mixed conditional. Challenge yourself by focusing on quality not just quantity.
You will work your hard in the TOEFL course at EC Miami, so be prepared to be pushed. I promise though that if you work hard and follow these tips, you will see a great deal of improvement in your English.