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TOEFL iBT Study Techniques

Strategies for success in TOEFL iBT

1. Academic English reading for TOEFL

Reading is important, so any English reading you do is good, but it’s best to practice with material that is similar in style to the TOEFL iBT. Many reading articles and texts from introductory college courses make great TOEFL practice reading material. Check out the website for a college or university and find the syllabus listing for an introductory course. Look at the listing of recommended textbooks for the course and then you can try to locate the books in your local library city library.
If you can’t find the textbooks available anywhere, then you could always try reading term papers which have been published on the internet. Simply choose the subject you want to read on and then search for student term papers on the same subject. The most important point is to focus on academic reading material and not simply reading English novels or other types of reading.

2. TOEFL Vocabulary building

Almost a third of all TOEFL iBT questions are explicitly vocabulary related. Therefore, it’s critical that you have a well developed academic vocabulary to deal with these types of questions. Good vocabulary is required to score well in all four sections of the TOEFL iBT, not only the TOEFL reading section. A good place to start building your academic vocabulary is with the different word families in the Academic Wordlist (AWL); there are 570 different word families contained in the list. Another strategy to boost your vocabulary is to practice reading academic texts from high level English EFL textbooks and focus on learning the target vocabulary related to various subjects. These books often have a wordlist, based on the AWL, and also specific vocabulary lists organized by topic or theme. These are a valuable vocabulary resource.

3. TOEFL Listening practice online

There are lots of great academic style lectures available on the internet for free and you should take advantage of these. TED Talks is an excellent source for listening to a wide variety of academic style lectures on various topics. These are free and there is no limit to the amount of lectures you can listen to. Many of them have a full transcript available so you can help boost your academic vocabulary at the same time. You can test yourself after listening by trying to summarize the main ideas and reuse any interesting vocabulary learned during the lecture.

4. TOEFL Speaking practice

Many English students find it difficult to practice speaking English for various reasons. However, here’s a simple idea whenever you are having a conversation in English, when the other person asks you what you think about something, make sure that you get your main point across first. This will help you focus on saying what is most important in a short time, as required in the TOEFL iBT speaking test. For example, if somebody asks you what you thought about a movie, don’t spend a long time describing everything about it – say whether you liked it or not, if it was good/bad/terrible first, and then back up your opinion with some examples. This will help you develop some good speaking habits for the TOEFL speaking test.

5. Best TOEFL iBT prep course

Sometimes you don’t need to attend a special TOEFL iBT preparation course if you can find, borrow or purchase a good quality TOEFL iBT self study book. Good quality publications have lots of information and explanations of techniques and strategies in them along with a wealth of authentic practice material for candidates. After all, if you have sufficient authentic practice material then you should be focusing on improving your writing speed, reading speed, English grammar and vocabulary and these are all things that only you can do, not a teacher. Going back to one of the points made earlier, reading a lot of academic English term papers and essays will give you good models to follow and your writing should improve by following these formats, many of them written by native speakers of English.

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