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Do you have to take the TOEFL iBT test?

Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start?

Or maybe you are not entirely familiar with the test?

No worries! Today, we’ll share 6 tips to get you started on your journey to ace the TOEFL iBT test! 

Starting with number 1…

1. Familiarize yourself with the test format 

TOEFL iBT has four sections – Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. It’s important to know what to expect in each section. So, here’s the breakdown:

  • Reading section: The Reading section consists of 3-4 academic passages, about 700 words each. The passages are taken from university textbooks and each passage comes with 10 questions. You have approximately 54-72 minutes to answer all the questions in this section. 
  • Listening section: You’ll hear lectures and conversations with the following breakdown:
    • 3-4 lectures, 3-5 minutes each, 6 questions per lecture 
    • 2-3 conversations, approximately 3 minutes each, 5 questions per conversation 

You will have between 41-57 minutes to complete this section 

  • Speaking section: There are 4 tasks in this section, each relating to real-life situations. The 4 tasks are:
    • Question 1/Independent Speaking Task: requires you to draw entirely on your own ideas, opinions and experiences when you respond.
    • Question 2-4/Integrated Speaking Task:  require you to combine your English-language skills — listening and speaking, or listening, reading and speaking, designed to prepare you for university setting. 

The Speaking sections take approximately 17 minutes to complete. 

  • Writing section: This section is intended to measure your ability to write in an academic setting and how well you can present your ideas. You will have to do 2 writing tasks:
    • Integrated Writing Task: read a short passage and listen to a short lecture, then write a response to what you have read and listened to. You have 20 minutes to complete this task. 
    • Independent Writing Task: write an essay based on personal experience or opinion in response to the given topic. You have 30 minutes to complete this task. 

2. Manage your time effectively 

As can be seen from the test format above, the TOEFL iBT is a timed test. So, it’s very crucial to manage your time effectively! 

When you just started prepping for your TOEFL iBT exam, you don’t have to try to finish all the questions within the allocated time limit straight away, but it’s definitely important to build up until you can finish the test within the time limit.

Obviously, managing your time effectively can help you finish your test in time, but there are other benefits as well! 

Managing your time effectively can reduce stress since you are less likely to feel rushed during the test, which can negatively affect your performance. 

Effective time management will also give you time to review your answers and make necessary connections, which improves your accuracy and you will have more chances of getting your target score! 

So, don’t underestimate this tip! 

3. Read and listen to academic materials 

TOEFL iBT places a strong emphasis on your ability to understand English in an academic context. Therefore, reading and listening to academic materials can definitely go a long way to help you get your dream TOEFL iBT score! 

First, find relevant academic materials. This can be journal publications, research papers, and textbooks in various fields such as science, social studies, and humanities.

As you read, pay attention to the structure of the text, the author’s argument, and jot down any new vocabulary you encounter and look for their meanings. 

You can also listen to things like lectures, podcasts, or even TEDtalk on Youtube. Try taking notes as you listen, then summarize the content of the talk. This will help you improve your listening comprehension skills as well as your ability to write effectively. 

4. Practice, practice, practice! 

There’s no shortcut for this one! 

Nothing beats good ol’ practising! 

You can read all the TOEFL iBT tips in the world and they would still be useless if you don’t practice them! 

Do the mock test often so you identify the areas where you need improvement, 

Practice can also help you build confidence which is definitely important! The more confident you are, the calmer you will be during the test, the less like you will be making mistakes! 

So, definitely practice, practice, and practice some more! 

5. Stay calm and focused 

I know, it’s wayyyy easier said than done to stay calm during a test that could literally determine your future! 

But you should still practice and make an effort to stay calm and focused. Because…

Let’s face it! We are more likely to make careless mistakes when we are nervous. The kind of mistakes that we wouldn’t have made if we were calm and steady, maybe just small mistakes, a typo, maybe you misread something, but nonetheless, this can very well rob you of your target score!

Staying calm can also help you above and beyond when it comes to the Speaking section. In this section, you are expected to speak and express yourself clearly. Staying calm can definitely help you above and beyond to think more clearly, organize your thoughts more effectively, and express yourself more coherently. 

So, let’s take some deep breaths and keep our cool! 

6. Eat a nutritious breakfast 

Now, don’t laugh! 

This might be the most underestimated yet nevertheless very important tips in acing almost every exam out there! 

Here’s the thing…

Your brain needs A LOT of energy to function properly. In fact, even though our brain only makes about 2% of our body weight, your brain consumes roughly 20% of your energy each day! 

That’s right, the brain is the hungriest organ of your body! 

For your pre-exam breakfast, opt for high protein foods such as eggs and complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread! This will keep you feeling full longer and save you from the dreaded post-meal sleepiness. 

And don’t forget to hydrate! Drinking water in the morning can also help wake up your brain and keep you alert during the exam. But don’t overdo it, or you’ll be holding it in during the test!

Overall, taking the time to eat a nutritious breakfast before an exam can make a huge difference in your performance. So, set your alarm a bit earlier, whip up some breakfast, and head into that exam with confidence!

Next steps

Are you confused about how to maximize your TOEFL score?

Preparing for the TOEFL test can be overwhelming. It feels like there’s too much to learn in too little time. You search for tips and tricks on the internet & you watch YouTube videos. But, they just don’t seem to help. In fact, they make you even more confused.

This is because most courses teach TOEFL the wrong way. They give you useless exercises that waste your time and don’t give you the right strategies that work,

As a result, you end up feeling more confused and stressed and unprepared to take your test.

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way!

At IELC, we teach TOEFL the right way

At IELC, we know what it takes to succeed in the TOEFL test and we want to share our knowledge with you so you can succeed too! We know how to teach TOEFL the right way and that’s why we have the best track record in Indonesia for helping our students achieve their TOEFL targets.

We help you overcome your problem areas

We find your problem areas and help you overcome them with the right strategies and exercises.

We teach you test-taking psychology secrets so you know how to stay focused during the test.

We teach you essential vocabulary and grammar for the TOEFL writing and speaking modules so you can express yourself with clarity and confidence.

We teach you how to generate ideas and brainstorm and prepare for any topic that comes up.

Guidance from our expert TOEFL teachers

Our expert TOEFL teachers guide you along every step of the way so you can prepare it in a systematic way and be confident that you are prepared for the test.

As Indonesia’s #1 English campus, we offer great courses for kids, teens, and adults:

Whether it’s online or on campus, we will help you get the skills you need to achieve your target TOEFL score. Contact us today to get your FREE consultation and start your journey towards success in TOEFL today!


Anthony McCormick

IELC Managing Director