Starting TOEFL iBT preparation

This week I have made up my mind and decided to take the TOEFL exam on December 2nd. I decide this on October 11th (Wednesday), this means that I have 5 days this week then 6 full weeks and then another 5 days the same week as the exam. ETS recommends at least 8 weeks for preparation so I’ll have to move quickly. In this blog post I am going to share my findings, the roadmap I have set up and the materials I plan to use.

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL stands for Test Of English as a Foreign Language and it is an exam meant for the non native English speakers to test their English skills in academic and workplace environment. It is an American test taken by lots of people around the globe. This test is regulated by ETS (Educational Testing Service). TOEFL is known for not exactly testing your English skill but rather your TOEFL test-taking skills. This is described on the official website and in the TOEFL test prep planner.

My goals with TOEFL

TOEFL is not the hardest test out there hence many people manage to get scores 115+ out of 120. My goal is to achieve the maximum 120 points on this test. This is an ambitious goal and it it isn’t necessary as universities usually don’t require more than 110 points. For example UC Berkeley requires 80-90 points. The reason I’m aiming for 120 is that of the 10x rule described by /Grant Cardone in his book: The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure/.

Resources

Resources for TOEFL preparation are in no shortage, there are both paid and free resources. You can find books, flashcards and digital items like practice tests.

Books
I am personally not a fan of “official” books. As a software developer I read lots of technical books, blog posts and watch videos, but the official documentation is only a reference to me. As such I have 2 books that I’m going to use:

  1. Cracking TEFL iBT 2017 – Princeton Review
    I ordered this book from Amazon.de. It is arriving on Oct 18. with priority shipping. I’ve been recommended this book and it seems to do the justice.
  2. Official guide to TOEFL test 4th edition – ETS
    I’m going to pick this one up at Fulbright Hungary just to read through it and to see if it offers any additional value. Otherwise, this will just be an official reference.

Other resources
There is an 8 week preparation guide available online for free on the official ETS website. I’d recommend socializing online with students who have already taken the exam or the ones that are in the same boat as you. I’d recommend Reddit’s ToeflAdvice, on Facebook you can follow the official TOEFL page and there is nothing interesting on Twitter. One more resource that I found interesting not just from a TOEFL prep perspective but an all around how to get to study in the US as a foreigner guide is linguamarina on YouTube.

My roadmap/process

My plan is to mostly follow the official 8 week program. I’ll be doing one test this week to measure a baseline. Then I’ll do a practice test each weekend to see my progression. I’ll be doing a blog post each weekend with adjustments to my process and progression updates.


If you have any suggestion or idea, leave a comment below.

Kristof Kocsis Written by:

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