Did you grow up speaking a language other than English? If so, and if you want to attend a college or university in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, or any other country where English is the primary language, you’ll have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in order to gain admission.

Admission requirements vary from college to college, but there is no question that you will have to do well on the TOEFL to get into the school of your choice. The goal of the TOEFL is to make sure that you will be able to function on a high-level in a college setting. For that reason, knowing how to prepare for the TOEFL is essential.

The TOEFL itself is broken down into four major sections, each one testing a particular aspect of your mastery of English. They are:

  • Reading comprehension – this section of the test requires students to read three or four passages of academic writing and answer multiple choice questions based on the passages they read.
  • Listening comprehension – this section of the test requires students to listen to recording and English and answer questions based on what they hear. The listening section typically includes lectures, classroom conversations, and conversations between students.
  • Speaking – this section of the test requires students either to read a passage in English or listen to an English recording, and then respond aloud. In some cases, you will be asked to deliver an opinion on a particular topic and support your argument with facts. In others, you will be asked to answer questions based on what you heard.
  • Writing – this section of the test requires students to read an English passage or listen to a recording and then write a response. The test requires students to write two passages, and the goal is to provide an argument or thesis and then support that argument in clear, concise writing.

If you want to know how to prepare for the TOEFL, you have to work on all four sections of the test for the best results.

Preparation Tips

Now let’s talk about some of the ways you can prepare for the various sections of the text.’

The most important tip we can give you is to ensure that you have read all the key articles contained in the menu bar of this website.


Since the reading portion of the test examines your ability to read academic English and understand it, you should plan on reading as much English as possible. Try to get your hands on some English-language textbooks if you can.

Textbooks can be expensive to buy, but there are some less costly options too:

  • Buy academic magazines or subscribe to English-language newspapers. You may be able to find some things to read online by following publications on social media.
  • Read non-fiction books in English, including historical texts and critical works. It may be especially helpful to look for books that have a readers’ guide at the back with questions about the book.
  • Read English-language fiction. The chances are good that you’ll have to take at least one course that requires you to read fiction. Reading fiction is fun and can help improve your vocabulary.

The more you read, the more you will expand your vocabulary and understanding of English.


Listening to other people speak English is a challenge for people who are just learning the language. It can be particularly challenging to understand different accents. Here are some things you can do to prepare for the listening part of the test:

  • Find recording of English-language lectures and talks and listen to them as much as possible.
  • Watch English-language videos and beneficial television shows.
  • In particular, seek out documentaries and other academic films that will help you understand high-level English of the type you’re likely to hear in college.
  • Get English-language audio books and listen to them. It may help to get both an audio book and a printed book and follow along.
  • Listen to English-language radio programs and audiobooks (can be found on Amazons website, audible.com)

Here again, the key is to listen as much as you can. It may help to watch videos with the closed captioning on to familiarize yourself with different accents. However, you should be aware that YouTube closed captioning may be inaccurate.


The only way to practice speaking English is to speak English. That can be a real challenge for people who live in parts of the world where little English is spoken. However, here are a few tips to help you get in the practice you need:

  • Find a group of people who meet to practice their English and join. Colleges and community centers are a good place to start.
  • Practice the art of imitation. If you have audio books or other English recordings, practice repeating what is said in them.
  • If you can, record yourself speaking English and then play it back to determine if your accent and pronunciation needs work.
  • Seek out online prep tools, such as ETS’s TOEFL Online Speaking Series, to get graded on your spoken English and target areas where you need improvement.

The more you speak English aloud, the more confident and comfortable you’ll be with doing it – and that will help you on the day of the test.


The writing part of the test is designed to make sure you can express yourself in academic English. Here are some tips to help you get comfortable with writing in English:

  • Keep a journal in English. Writing a little bit every day will help improve your vocabulary fluency.
  • Make sure you practice a lot by doing TOEFL test questions. You can find them in TOEFL preparation books and simulated online practice tests.
  • Study English grammar and sentence structure. Reading is important preparation for writing, too. Try to get your hands on academic papers and read them to better understand what you need to do.
  • Explore all free material that is available to you on the internet. Also, purchasing a TOEFL course is a necessity for students that want to master the TOEFL exam, because these tips and strategies are covered only in these courses. Some even offer tutors to help you with preparing for the exam.

If you write as much as you can, you’ll be able to approach the test itself with confidence. Overall, the key is to do as much test preparation as you can so that, when the day of the test arrives, you have all the tools you need to excel.

Read More