June 26, 2019

5 Common Mistakes TOEFL® Test Takers Make and How to Avoid Them

Are you planning to take the TOEFL iBT® anytime soon? If you are, you’ve probably already read about all the tips and tricks about studying for and acing the exam. But have you ever considered some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to the TOEFL iBT®?

Here are five of these common mistakes and what you need to do to avoid them.

  1. The Mistake: Not Taking Sample Tests

No matter how hard you study the different topics on Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, your preparation will not be complete without answering a couple of TOEFL iBT® exams. Even if you master all the different subjects that will be asked on the exam, everything will still feel very new and different when put together as a single test.

You need to practice answering questions under time pressure too. Taking a sample test will help you prepare for the day of the exam. Acing a sample test will help boost your confidence and allow you to strategize for the exam in a way that works best for you.

Students who take the TOEFL iBT® without taking a few sample exams first tend to panic when presented with the test format, so don’t make this mistake. There are many sample TOEFL iBT®  exams available online and in books, find the best ones that you can and use them when you study.


  1. The Mistake: Using Difficult or Complicated Words

The TOEFL iBT®  will test you on your grammar and vocabulary. However, many test takers think that using complicated or difficult words in the Speaking or Writing sections will automatically earn them more points. This is not always the case.

If you are unsure of how to use a difficult or complicated word, don’t use it. Use words you are familiar and comfortable with. The examiners will test you on your thought process during these parts of the exam.

When you use words you are unsure of or grammar structures that are unfamiliar, you will not be able to express yourself clearly and naturally. Instead of spending time thinking of impressive words, use this time to organise the flow and content of your thoughts.


  1. The Mistake: Being Late On Test Day

Never be late for your TOEFL iBT® exam! Don’t forget when your TOEFL iBT® exam will be either!

Take note of the exact time, date, and day of your exam. Find the address of your TOEFL iBT® testing centre and plan your route so you know what time to leave in order to get there on time. Arrive at your TOEFL iBT® testing centre at least half an hour before the test. This gives you have enough time to familiarise yourself with your room and seat, and so you can go to the bathroom before the test starts.

And it’s not just about not being late! Getting lost on the day of your exam or arriving late for your test may make you nervous, anxious, and unnecessarily stressed, which can negatively affect your test-taking abilities.


  1. The Mistake: Forgetting Your Registration Number and not bringing a Valid ID.

Just like being late, avoid this mistake by packing properly the night before the exam. You don’t want to run late because you’re searching for your documents, right?

Don’t forget, the name that you registered with should be an exact match to the ID that you have. You will also need to present your registration number as well. If there are any errors or discrepancies, you may not be allowed to take the exam and your test fee will not be refunded. Don’t let all that studying go to waste, prepare your documents early and make sure they’re with you before you leave.


  1. The Mistake: Losing Hope or Motivation

If you feel like you did badly during one part of the TOEFL iBT®, don’t dwell on it. If you did not do as well in the Speaking section as you would’ve liked, don’t lose motivation for the Writing and Reading parts of the exam.

Don’t let any errors in one section affect the other. If you feel like you didn’t do your best in one part of the test, don’t lose hope. Remember, each section of the exam is worth 30 points, for a total of 120 points for the TOEFL iBT®. Start the other sections with a positive attitude and make up for your points then.


The best way to avoid making these mistakes is with proper preparation. Don’t forget to check out our resources page for all the tools you’ll need for productive studying. And you can read the rest of the blog for additional tips, tricks, and insider experiences to help avoid these and other common mistakes. Best of luck!


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