For students who want to attend universities where English is the primary language spoken, getting a good score on the TOEFL is a must. Preparing for an exam this important can be a daunting task, but with the right information – and the right mindset – you can be sure that you are ready when the time comes to take the test.

Academic Preparation

The first element of preparation is academic. You have studied English, but preparing for the exam requires a special kind of effort. Remember, the goal of the test is to ensure that you are able to function in an academic setting. As you prepare, you should:

  • Listen to as much English as possible
  • Read as much English as possible
  • Speak as much English as possible

Make a special effort to seek out lectures and read English textbooks and academic articles. Most of the reading samples and prompts included on the test are related to academics, so keep that in mind as you prepare.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam and the instructions for taking it, and take as many practice exams as you can. The more comfortable you are with the test itself, the less likely it is that you will have a problem the day you take the test.

Practical Preparation

The next element of preparation is practical, and it includes things like:

  • Figuring out which schools you want to apply to, and when they need your TOEFL scores
  • Finding a TOEFL test that will ensure that your chosen schools get your test scores in time
  • Registering for the test
  • Giving yourself time on the day of the test to arrive at your testing location half an hour early
  • Bringing photo ID, a notebook, and something to write with (including a backup)

These practical preparations will ensure that you meet each school’s admission requirements and are present and able to take the test when the time comes.

Mental Preparation

The final kind of preparation you must do in order to get a high score on the TOEFL is mental preparation. Any time you take an important test, the pressure is on. You know that you need a good score to get into the school of your choice. You may have done all of your TOEFL prep work, but if you’re not mentally prepared you could still have a hard time.

A big part of mental preparation is taking practice tests. Being familiar with the test format and timing will alleviate some of your anxiety.

It’s also important to be well rested on the day of the test. The human brain needs sleep in order to function at a high level. If you are tired or sluggish when you take the test, your score is likely to reflect the way you feel. Get to bed early the night before and make sure to sleep well.

Finally, eat a healthy, protein-rich breakfast the morning of the exam. Your brain needs fuel the same way your body does. You don’t have to eat anything heavy, but eating breakfast will give your brain the energy it needs to do well on the test.

If you follow these simple instructions for TOEFL preparation, you will be ready mentally and physically to take the test when the big day arrives.

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