Taking a major English exam like TOEFL can be a stressful experience. Regardless of your fluency in English, the fact is that many students struggle to maintain their calm and concentration during the 4-hour-long test.

Here are some practical strategies for maintaining your focus and achieving a great TOEFL score:

Prepare Yourself for the Big Day

Preparation is an integral part of TOEFL iBT. The more prepared you are, the greater your chance for success.

It is best to begin your preparation a few months before the test date. Once you walk into the TOEFL test centre, you should know exactly what to expect.

First off, spend some time understanding the structure, format and time limit of the test. Here are some facts you should know:

  • You can register for TOEFL iBT online. Once you pay the registration fee, you can appear for the test. The cost of registration varies from one location to another. In addition, you need to select an authorised centreand test date. TOEFL iBT is held at Educational Testing Service-approved testing centres across the world.
  • Take a valid ID or passport to the test centre. Leave your laptop, books or stationery at home. Candidates are not permitted to take anything inside the test centre.
  • TOEFL iBT is a computerised test, which involves the use of a QWERTY keyboard, a microphone and headphones (for speaking and listening sections).
  • The total test time is four hours (4 hours and 20 minutes max).
  • The test is divided into four sections, including reading, listening, speaking and writing.
  • There is a 10 minutes break after the listening section.
  • The total test score is 0-120. But, each section is scored from 0 to 30.

A General Breakdown of All Sections

Like we have mentioned above, the TOEFL iBT test is made up of four sections i.e. reading, listening, speaking and writing.

Each section is designed to measure an individual’s ability to understand, interpret and use the English language.

  • The reading section involves 3 to 4 academic passages, which are followed by 36 to 56 questions. The time duration for this section is 60 to 80 minutes. In addition, the score range is 22 to 30 – High; 15 to 21 – Intermediate and 0 to 14 – Low.
  • The listening section involves listening to audio recordings such as a classroom lecture, discussion or conversation. Thereafter, test takers are required to answer 34–51 questions in 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.
  • The speaking section involves expressing opinions on topics related to the reading and listening tasks. Test takers use a microphone to give their answers. The listening section requires completing six tasks in 20 minutes. The score range for speaking is 26-30 – Good; 18-25 – Fair; 10-17 – Limited and 0-9 – Weak.
  • The writing section consists of the integrated and independent tasks. You will get 50 minutes to complete both tasks. For the integrated task, you will write essay responses related to the reading and listening materials in 20 minutes. On the other hand, the independent task involves expressing opinions on a specific topic in 30 minutes. The writing section is marked as Good (24-30); Fair (17-23) and Limited (1-16).

After familiarizing  yourself with the format of TOEFL iBT, you should spend significant time preparing for it.

Create a realistic study schedule and follow it. The best way to study for TOEFL is to take online practice tests.

Some Helpful Suggestions to Maximise Your Focus and Performance on Test Day:

Have a Proper Breakfast

Have a healthy breakfast and make sure you are hydrated. Do not skip breakfast. Breakfast will help kick start your day and keep you alert, focused and energised throughout the test.  Do not stay up late before the test. Lack of sleep can make it difficult for you to concentrate.

Focus on One Question at a Time

If there is an unexpected or difficult question, do not waste your time and energy trying to figure out the answer. You do not want to lose your concentration and momentum.

Move on to the next one. You can come back to the last question in the end.

Don’t stress

At the end of the day, TOEFL is just an English language test. If you do not get the score you need the first time, you can retake the test. Remember, it is not the end of the world.

You can retake the test as many times as you wish. But, you cannot appear for the test twice in a 12-day period.

Breathe Deeply

If you are finding it impossible to focus on the test, take deep breaths. Your brain needs oxygen to function properly. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.

Change Your Sitting Position

Your sitting position will affect your ability to concentrate. If you sit with a good posture, you will feel more relaxed and focused.

Stretch your neck and loosen up. Give your hands a massage. Avoid sitting with a hunched back. You will feel more comfortable and alert.

Do Not Think About the Others

Concentrate on your test. Avoid looking at the other test candidates. If you find your mind wandering, shut your eyes and focus. Keep track of time and pace yourself.

Visualise Taking the Test

A few weeks before the test, spend some minutes each day visualising every aspect of it.

A clear mind is less likely to make crucial mistakes on the test day. For more information on improving your TOEFL performance, check out these practical tips and tricks.

uMasterExam provides a list of the best TOEFL tutors and study materials, online courses, books and practice tests.

From beginners to those at intermediate and advanced levels, uMasterExam is a one-stop TOEFL preparation guide for test takers.

The online TOEFL preparation guide will help you understand and prepare for all sections of the iBT test and get a high score.

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