Preparing for the TOEFL
The TOEFL can be taken on paper or via the internet, which is quickly becoming the more common testing choice. The exam covers four main areas of English application: Reading, Listening, Structure (Grammar), and Writing. Proficiency in these four areas will generally ensure that the test taker is ready for all aspects of college communication.
A strong knowledge of English vocabulary is understandably important in scoring well on the TOEFL. All four areas of the exam involve reading and understanding the meaning of many English words and phrases. The reading section focuses largely on the test taker’s ability to figure out words in context. By using the words and sentences around a difficult word or passage, the reader can figure out the meaning of the unfamiliar word. The grammar section tests the taker’s ability to figure out a specific grammatical error within a sentence or passage and to complete a missing part of a sentence. Even here, it is important to have a strong command of English vocabulary in order to figure out which grammatical rules apply. Interpretation of what you hear is the crux of the Listening portion of the exam. To score well on this section you must be able to differentiate between specific English phraseology, idioms, and homophones. The final segment of the TOEFL, the Written Essay, asks the test taker to write an essay on a given topic, and to support their position. Writing an effective persuasive essay involves many aspects of vocabulary, including easily producing the correct words at will, forming words into sounds sentences and paragraphs, and using accurate grammar.
To prepare for the TOEFL, students must make English vocabulary a strong focus of study. This can be accomplished in various ways. Most importantly, you must become an avid reader of all sorts of material – - fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, and the internet. You also must concentrate on active listening. Listen closely as others speak, paying special attention to their use of idioms, grammatical structures, and words that are unfamiliar. Working on your writing skills is incredibly important also. Write much and often, and let friends and fellow students who are proficient English speakers edit and suggest improvements to your attempts. Keep a journal or diary in English, and use it not only to record your experiences, but to practice using words that you are not as familiar with. There are many tools that are especially helpful for those preparing to take the TOEFL. These include dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, maps, and other reference materials. There are also computer software programs, such as Ultimate Vocabulary for the TOEFL Test, especially designed to help potential test takers prepare for the exam.
Getting into college may be difficult, but having a command of English vocabulary can greatly increase your chances of success. And by preparing for the TOEFL, you are also building the skills necessary for academic achievement. Those who do well on the exam can open doors for themselves to higher education and beyond.