Being a good student of the English language might not be enough to earn you a high score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language. While you may have studied hard and practiced speaking and listening to English, you still have to cope with the realities of the TOEFL if you want to get into the college or university of your choice.

Taking a look at sample questions and exams is one of the best ways to prepare yourself, both intellectually and emotionally, for the experience of taking the TOEFL. It’s especially important to look at samples if you are someone who gets anxious or nervous when it’s time to take a test. The more familiar you are with what to expect on the exam, the less likely you are to experience profound anxiety or panic on the day of the test.

Which Samples Do You Need?

Let’s talk about what you need in terms of TOEFL samples. The test consists of four basic parts: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Ideally, you should have access to samples of all four parts of the test so that you know what to expect.

The focus of the test is on fluency in an academic setting, so your focus should be on reading and listening to academic English. Here are some things that you need to have as you prepare:

  1. Sample questions from all sections of the exam. Even if you think a particular part of the exam is going to be easier for you than the others, you should still plan on looking at some sample questions so you know what to expect.
  2. Several lengthy samples of academic writing. Some of the things you may want to consider include English language text books, English newspapers, and academic papers written in English. If you can get your hands on scientific journals, they may also be a helpful resources to have.
  3. Video or audio recordings of English language lectures are another must. A significant portion of the listening section of the exam will consist of excerpts from lectures. You must be able to follow along. Make sure that you seek out lectures in a variety of regional accents.
  4. Video or audio recordings of casual English language conversations between peers. The remainder of the listening portion of the exam consists of conversations between students about topics of interest on a university campus. It is important to understand formal English, but to get by in a university setting, you must also be able to understand casual conversations.
  5. A sampling of potential topics for the speaking portion of the exam. Some of the topics involve expressing opinions about things, while others focus on your ability to express yourself clearly in a casual setting. If you have test questions to review, you can practice both kinds of responses to get ready.
  6. Other written and spoken materials as needed.
  7. Other written and spoken materials as needed. For example, it may be helpful to have one or more of the following:
    1. Audio books in English
    2. Short stories, poetry, and fiction written in English
    3. Board games and other materials in English

The more access to English you have, the better able you will be to prepare for the exam. True fluency takes time to achieve, and the goal of the TOEFL is to ensure that you are fluent enough to be able to thrive in a college or university setting. Do whatever you can to get your hands on a variety of written and audio/video material in English to give yourself the best possible likelihood of doing well on the exam.

Finally, we advise that you visit our TOEFL textbook review page, to see a selection of some of the best TOEFL samples and exercises in written form. Likewise, it would be good to take a look at our course review page and practice test review page in order to also access samples of the test for the speaking and writing components of the exam.