General TOEFL Test Strategies

August is coming to an end and unfortunately for students in Albania it means one thing: EXAMS!!! (Yep, sorry guys I had to break this to you.)
For those who are graduating in their master’s degree or those who will start their master’s degree in November, here are some tips you should bare in mind while taking your TOEFL exam. I found these strategies quite useful and they really helped me obtain constant results. I hope this works for you, too.

Image result for toefl

Since TOEFL paper-based test consists of three sections I will publish another post to explain the strategies given by Heinemann for Section Two and Three.

Here we go:

  1. Use your time wisely. The TOEFL is a limited test. You must work very quickly and efficiently to finish all of the question in the time you are allowed. You should bring a watch to the TOEFL so that you can keep track of your time.
  2. Try practising with TOEFL exams, so that you don’t have to read the instructions. If you are familiar to them before you take TOEFL, you do not have to read them when you begin the test.
  3. If you don’t know the answer to a question, GUESS! There is no penalty for guessing. You have a twenty-five percent chance of guessing the correct answer to each question. Unmarked answers will be counted as wrongs and will lower your score.
  4. Mark your answer sheet very carefully. To prevent marking answers in the wrong order, you should follow your place on your answer sheet with one finger.
  5. Do not write in your test booklet. You are not allowed to make any marks on your TOEFL test book during the test.
  6. The night before the TOEFL, relax. Don’t try to do any serious studying the night before the test. This will only make you nervous and tired. The night before the TOEFL, it is a good idea to relax and to go to bed early. Then, you will be at your best for the test.
  7. It is a good idea to eat something substantial before the TOEFL. The TOEFL is a long exam, and having something to eat beforehand can help you to focus and concentrate on the test.
  8. Arrive at the test center ahead of time. If you are late for a TOEFL, you will not be allowed to take it.

Section One: Listening Comprehension

The purpose of this section is to test your understanding of spoken North American English. Vocabulary, spoken structures, and English sounds and intonation are tested. For the most part, topics used in the section are informal and conversational. Some general academic topics are used in the short lecture segments of this sections. Even in these topics, however, the language is not as formal as that used in written English.

Section One contains 50 questions divided into three parts. Part A contains the mini-dialogues, Part B the longer conversations and Part C the talks. These questions and the information necessary to answer them are played for you. Only the answer choices for the questions are printed in the TOEFL test booklet. All Section One questions are spoken only one time. You are allowed 12 seconds to answer each question.

It is advised to be familiar with Section One instructions before you take the official TOEFL. Then, during the test, you do not have to listen to all the instructions. Listen only long enough to familiarize yourself with the voices. Be sure you can hear loudly and clearly. DO NOT look ahead while the instructions for Section One are being read.

Listen carefully for meaning in the mini-dialogues, longer conversations and talks. Concentrate on trying to understand the overall meaning.

Mini-Dialogue Strategies

  1. Be careful of vocabulary, sounds, spoken structures, and intonation and stress in dialogues and questions.
  2. Listen carefully to the second speaker. The second speaker in each mini-dialogue always gives important information. The correct answer to Part A questions is contained in the second speaker’s sentence.
  3. Determine the situation in the dialogue. Try to determine who is speaking and where the speakers are having their conversation.
  4. Determine the topic of  the dialogue. Try to determine what the speakers are talking about.
  5. Determine the language functions in the dialogue. Try to determine the function of the language being used by the speakers.
  6. Guess if you don’t know the answer to a question: choose the answer that sounds least like the dialogue. This answer is often the correct answer.
  7. Use extra time between questions to llok ahead at the answer choices. Try to predict what the question types might be for each dialogue.

Strategies for Longer Conversations and Short Talks

  1. Listen carefully to the short introduction given before each passage. From this introduction, you can learn how many questions you will answer about the passage. The introduction can also give you information about the situation and topic of the passage-who, where and what.
  2. Quickly determine the situation and the topic of the passage. This information is often at the beginning of a passage. You should listen carefully to the beginning of each passage.
  3. Listen carefully for facts and details. Details such as places, names and times are tested in Part B and PartC of the TOEFL.
  4. Questions about facts and details occur in the same order that you hear them in the passage. Many TOEFL test-takers find it helpful to read along the answer choices while listening to the passage. You can practise this strategy while doing the practise tests. Only use this strategy if it works for you. If it distracts you from understanding a passage, DO NOT use this strategy.
  5. Guess if you don’t know the answer to a question. Choose the answer that sounds the MOST like the passage. In this part of the TOEFL, this is often the correct answer to the question.
    NOTE: This strategy is different from the guessing strategy for Part A. You will need to change your guessing approach for Part B and Part C.
  6. Use extra time between questions to look ahead at the answer choices. Try to predict questions.


Source: The Heinemann ELT TOEFL – Practise Test

P.S If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends who might need these strategies, because sharing is caring 😀
I will post the strategies needed for the other two sections tomorrow 🙂
Best of luck 😉


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