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7 Secrets you need to know to achieve your TOEFL target!

Do you need to take the TOEFL test but you don’t know how to reach your target score?  Well, it’s not just you.  Almost everyone who has to take the TOEFL test feels the same way. They’ve searched the internet for tips and tricks and strategies but there’s just too much stuff available….and sadly, most of it is useless which means that they end up wasting time and money and still don’t achieve their target. 

Well, you’ve finally reached the right place! I’m going to give you 7 secrets you need to know to increase your score when you’re taking the TOEFL Paper-Based test. 

7 Secrets you need to know to achieve your TOEFL target!

1. Recognize the different question types and instructions.   

Get used to recognizing the various different types of questions. The way to do this is again by taking tons of practice tests. You should also familiarize yourself with the different types of instructions, as well as the deadlines given for completing each part of the test. This will save you time and make you a speedy gonzales during the actual test! And the time you save can be used to pick up easy marks in the Reading and Structure sections. Doing a test without following the instructions correctly is a sure fired way to lose marks! 

2. Make time your friend  

If you know how to use your time effectively, time will be your best friend. So time management is very important. Before starting, decide how much time you can spend answering each question. Don’t exceed the time limit that you have set. And don’t waste time on questions that are too difficult. For example, in 5 minutes you can choose to answer 3 easy questions or 1 difficult question, you naturally know which one to choose because all questions have the same weight. Take your time to get as many points as possible!  

3. Focus on Grammar and Vocabulary  

Don’t forget, the TOEFL test measures your English language level. In other words: your vocabulary and grammar levels. You need to prove that your level of English is sufficient to pass the test. So, how do you do this? You need to increase vocabulary every day. The best way to memorize vocabulary is to write down words and and then activate them in your memory by using them in sentences. The TOEFL test measures your understanding of vocabulary in context. So use online or offline dictionary to find out what words mean and examples of how they are used in sentences. 

4. Reading and Listening Skills

Practice these skills by reading news or online articles and by listening to podcasts or lectures. Learn to recognize the signs that indicate the location of important information within an article. For example, words like, “another point that I’d like to make …” or “this takes us to …” or even questions like “why is this so important?” usually indicate important information. 

5. Learn how to take notes  

You need to learn how to taking quick notes while doing the Reading and Listening tests. Learn to recognize keywords quickly. Underline key words that lead to the correct answer. This is the fastest way to find answers to Listening and Reading questions.  DO NOT write down every word. It’s a waste of time and it’s also ineffective. For example, don’t write whole sentences. Take only certain words such as nouns, verbs and adverbs. Names and numbers are also important things that should be included in the notes. Use symbols and abbreviations that are easy to understand. Such as: $ (money, dollar), & (and), Ex, (example), X (wrong), etc.

6. Stay positive and focused  

Learn to use negative emotions to achieve positive goals. Stress can be a very useful motivating factor. If you’re stressed, you can use this emotion to motivate yourself and stay focused on your goal. But too much pressure isn’t good for you either. How can you confidently demonstrate your maximum English skills if you are so stressed you can’t focus? So, learn to keep your emotions balance and use them to help rather than hinder your progress. Make sure that you have practiced enough and are familiar with the tests you are facing. On test day, maintain your routine. Remember the time you have spent practicing. This is the time to show the results. 

Just remember, language skills cannot be learned in a day, but with the right strategy you can achieve amazing results!  

7. Finally… practice, practice and PREPARE!  

Unfortunately, there are NO shortcuts. When everyone else is lazing around in the sun, drinking lattes in the cafes or munching on snacks in the warung, you’re gonna need to prepare. 

The more you practice, the higher the score you can achieve. But you must be smart in managing your time, money, energy and meterials. DO NOT take the test too soon. If it can be postponed, why not? Increasing the preparation time won’t hurt until you are 90% ready. Don’t be complacent. You need to commit to prepare as much and as intensively as possible. Make a study plan and follow it every step of the way. Carve out some time in your week to take practice tests. Then make more time to increase your English vocabulary and grammar skills. 

Take Simulation Tests & time them as if it’s test day. Get up in the morning and get ready and think about the day of the test and all the preparation it takes and the stress that goes with it. Do not use any help (dictionary, smartphone). Use the timer to set the start and finish times of the test. If you feel nervous, great! It’s good to be nervous – it keeps you awake! Practice being nervous and becoming immune to stress. This will maximise your performance on the actual test day.

Do you want to achieve your TOEFL target?

If you’re confused about which TOEFL course to take…

If you’re tired of wasting time on strategies that don’t work…

If you don’t want to waste money on courses that don’t help…

Then contact us to see how we can help you. We have helped hundreds of TOEFL test takers achieve their target TOEFL score and we will make sure you achieve your target too!

I want you to achieve your TOEFL target so you can move on to the next chapter in your life. 


Anthony McCormick

IELC Managing Director

If you like this article, you might want to check out:

TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL Paper Based (PBT)

How to ace the TOEFL Reading Module

Tips and tricks to get a high score in the TOEFL Listening Section