If English is not your first language and you are seeking admission in an English-speaking college or university, then you will have to submit your TOEFL scores.

TOEFL iBT is designed to assess the English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills ofpeople who hope to gain admission into the university of their choice.. It is a comprehensive, reliable English language test, which is conducted and accepted across the world.

In fact, TOEFL scores are accepted by more than 10,000 colleges, agencies and other institutions in over 130 countries, including US, UK and Australia.

Many non-native English speakers wonder how difficult the TOEFL iBT exam is. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this.

The difficulty level typically depends on a students’ English fluency level. In other words, are they at a beginner,advanced or intermediate English level? One thing is certain; applicants appearing for the TOEFL iBT exam must have basic understanding of the English language.

TOEFL iBT does not determine whether you can or cannot comprehend and communicate in the English language. In fact, the test is a measure of how well a non-native speaker can understand and use English.

Regardless of your level of English language, you can pass TOEFL iBT with flying colors with proper preparation and planning.The first thing to understand about TOEFL iBT is its format.

TOEFL iBT consists of four sections: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Each section involves a specific number of tasks and has a specific score range and time duration.

  • The reading section evaluates a test taker’s ability to understand academic English. It consists of 3–4 reading academic passages, followed by 36 to 56 questions. You will get 60 to 80 minutes to attemptthe reading questions. The reading section’s score range is broken down as: 22 to 30 – High; 15 to 21 – Intermediate and 0 to 14 – Low.
  • The listening section tests an individual’s ability to understand audio recordings in English. These recordings could be a classroom lecture, discussion or a conversation. After listening to audio recordings, you will have to answer 34–51 questions within 60 to 90 minutes. The score range for the listening section is: 22 to 30 – High; 15 to 21 – Intermediate and 0 to 14 – Low.

A 10-minute break follows the listening section.

  • The speaking section is the third part of the TOEFL test. The speaking section involves expressing opinions on familiar topics (related to the reading and listening tasks). It involves completing six tasks in 20 minutes. The score range for speaking is as follows: 26-30 – Good; 18-25 – Fair; 10-17 – Limited and 0-9 – Weak.
  • The writing section involves attempting two tasks in 50 minutes. The first task involves writing essay responses pertaining to the reading and listening materials in 20 minutes. The second task involves expressingyour opinion on a specific topic in 30 minutes.The writing section is marked as Good (24-30); Fair (17-23) and Limited (1-16).

The total time duration for TOEFL iBT is about four hours and 20 minutes. Due to time limitations, you must plan your work and stay focused throughout the test. Do not make the mistake of leaving out any question. If you do not know an answer, move on to the next question. You can attempt the difficult questions in the end.

Most of the questions on TOEFL iBT are multiple choice questions. Even if you do not know an answer, make a guess. There is a possibility that you might get the right answer.

More importantly, practice taking quick notes and typing on a QWERTY keyboard before the day of the test. TOEFL iBT is a computerised test. It is better to practice typing and notetaking in order to get a hang of the style of the test.


That being said, there are many factors that can adversely affect your TOEFL iBT preparation and planning:

Memorizing difficult vocabulary and grammar rules

TOEFL is not about memorising complex grammar, tenses or vocabulary. It is an accurate measure of your ability to understand and use English at an academic level.

By memorising difficult words and grammar that you will never use, you are making a mistake. It is better to study intelligently for the exam. Whether it is new words or grammar, make sure you know how to use them correctly.

Not knowing your strengths and weaknesses

Which sections of the test are you really good at? Figure out your strengths and weaknesses before starting your preparation. For example, if you are weak in English writing, you can identify your mistakes and practice writing daily.

Not knowing a university’s minimum TOEFL score requirement

Before you start practicing for TOEFL iBT, you should find out the TOEFL score that the university you are applying to requires.

TOEFL iBT is scored from 0 to 120. However, different universities have their own minimum test score requirements.

This minimum requirement varies from one university to another and typically depends on whether it is an undergraduate or graduate program,, the field of study, and so on.

Check the universities’ minimum score requirementsbefore applying for admission. In case you do not meet their score requirement, you can retake the TOEFL iBT. You can retake the test multiple times, as long as you do not appear twice in a 12-day period.

Not having enough energy

English is a complex language. It takes a lot of hard work, patience and commitment to excel in this language.

But, if you find that you do not have enough energy or drive to study, you need to contemplate whether there might be any underlying issues that you aren’taware of. Dig deeper. What is slowing down your progress? Is it stress, anxiety, or any personal situation?

Stress is normal. However, if it is interfering with your ability to study for TOEFL iBT, consider speaking to a close family member or a counsellor.

Leaving psychological and emotional issues unaddressed will take a significant toll on your learning capabilities.

Not having enough time to practice

Do not have time to study for TOEFL? You need to prioritise your to-do list. Students have to take the necessary time out of their busy schedules to prepare for the test.

Remember, you are taking the test for a bigger purpose, i.e. attending a university abroad. If you get a good score, there is a significant chance it may transform your life.

Not using the right practice material

There is plenty of TOEFL iBT preparation material. But, you do not need to go through all of it. How do you pick the best preparation guides for TOEFL iBT?

At uMasterExam, we offer a list of useful practice tests, courses and text books for test takers. In addition to preparation materials, we also provide an array of tips and tricks for acing the reading, listening, speaking and writing sections.

Not studying effectively

If you cannot study with focus and organization, you should hire a professional TOEFL iBT tutor.

A tutor will help you prepare for TOEFL iBT at your own pace. They will create a regular preparation schedule and ensure you follow it. With your tutor’s undivided attention, you will be able to improve in the weaker sections.

Most importantly, tutors offer motivation and encouragement to non-native speakers. If you want to make English learning fun, simpler and manageable, find the right tutor who can help you achieve your goals.

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