Is TOEFL a tough test February 21, 2019

Is the TOEFL iBT® test tough?

This is really a relative question but the general consensus says while TOEFL may be a long drawn test which may be tricky as it tests you on specific things, it is really not as much a challenge for those who are exposed to English on a regular basis such as taking classes or communicating with one another or just as a language of exchange. However, if your exposure is limited and the English learning classes is the only place where you are exposed to this language then it can be uphill. TOEFL requires a strong grasp of the language and enough practice to score well on the day of the test.

There are several facets that one needs to keep in mind. Here are some of the most challenging ones:-

  • Length of the test:

    It is undoubtedly long. The test is short of four hours. The questions are not too hard but people can’t hold on to their endurance and they generally fatigue out in the later sections and this could lead to errors and mistakes in the test. The writing section is quite long and it requires time management and planning. Also since it is the last section make sure you don’t run out of steam before you start off with it. You need to build up your stamina and pace yourself well.

  • Challenging vocabulary:

    Reading section tests you on your vocabulary. A strong vocabulary is generally needed for all the questions and sections. It may be helpful to take practice tests to prepare you for the kind of vocabulary that may come up. Vocabulary is also formal in nature unlike what you are mostly used to hearing or reading

  • Many questions need multitasking:

    As you know TOEFL is divided into four sections- Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Many questions need you to use two or more skills to tackle these questions. This is mostly seen in the Speaking and Writing sections. In Speaking you would need to hear out a piece, read a passage and then speak out your response all one after the other in sequence. For Writing, you need to hear a conversation, read a passage and then write down your answer. In a nutshell, you would need to juggle between multiple English skills throughout the test to order a majority of questions.

  • Eye for minor details:

    TOEFL calls for an eye for detail. It is not easy to get by just loosely going through a passage or knowing just the gist of it, questions are posed about minor details to test your knowledge of English. On both the Reading and Writing sections, you’ll need to understand and answer questions about minor details. This is specifically so for the listening sections where many details can be overlooked if attention is not paid towards the audio piece. There is only one chance to hear this piece.

  • Block out distractions:

    You will not be exclusively taking the test but with a room full of other test takers, when you reach the Speaking sections mostly everyone would be speaking around the same time. This may lead to lack of focus and distraction and you may have some difficulty in concentrating.

  • Time deficit:

    As we know TOEFL is quite a lengthy test, you must be able to go through most of the questions at a fast pace. Here is the format of TOEFL with the number of questions and the time allotted.

Section Number of Questions Time Given
Reading 36-56 60-80 minutes
Listening 34-51 60-90 minutes
Speaking 6 tasks 20 minutes
Writing 2 tasks 20 minutes, then 30 minutes

The speaking section as you can see gives you the least time. You would have to put down the points and notes as you hear the piece and be ready to start speaking once the timer starts.

TOEFL May Not Be as Bad as You Think

While it may be a tricky test but it is definitely not hard to crack. There may be many parts which are surprisingly much easier than you expect it. Here are four reasons that show TOEFL is not that hard after all.

  • There is preparation time:

    Every question gives you a bit of time to breathe and prepare before you answer. Reading and Writing section is when you can set your own pace. You can collect your thoughts and think before you answer. In the Listening section, you can take notes while you hear the piece and you would have time to choose which answer is best suited for the question. Every section in TOEFL gives you some time to prepare this can bring down your stress and anxiety

  • Reading Section is at par with entry-level English in universities:

    None of the passages in the Reading Section is more than entry-level English in universities. If you have undergone entry-level English in university and college classes it should not be a problem. TOEFL has a similar level of English or that what is expected.

  • Reading comprehension is not complex:

    Reading questions are general in nature and are just testing your comprehension. They are quite clear and straightforward. Hence you can do well in this section

  • No perfect score required:

    Nobody expects a perfect score. Your TOEFL score can be from 0-120 but even scores as low as 60 are acceptable by many places. Mid-range schools accept scores ranging between 80 to100. So there is no reason for you to feel that you must ace this test and get a perfect score.
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