About the TOEFL Test

At the beginning of my hunt for the perfect Master’s program, I faced a massive pile of different requirements for each degree program.

Soon, it became apparent that I would have to provide a certificate of English skills (TOEFL test). Many universities additionally require a GMAT or GRE test score.

Many Master’s programs require corresponding proof when applying. As most of the universities I was considering accepted the TOEFL test as proof of proficiency in English, I decided to take this test.

The TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a language test designed to provide the university with an impression of your English skills. The test consists of four categories: Reading, Speaking, Listening, and Writing, whereby the test duration of all four categories varies.

As the exact score requirements vary between universities, it was vital for me to prepare thoroughly for the test and achieve a good result. I wanted to avoid repeating the test because the first result would not yield the desired score. Therefore, the most important thing for me, apart from detailed test preparation, was to acquire good study material. I was willing to invest more money in these materials. It’s still cheaper than taking a second test.

For my preparation, I bought a total of four books. The “Skills for the TOEFL iBT Test” series from Collins Verlag has lots of exercises and excellent tips and tricks with different strategies for the different questions. Here, the four categories are divided into two books, so that one book covers the “Reading and Writing” categories while the other focuses on the “Listening and Speaking” sections. If you also want to expand your vocabulary or grammar knowledge, you can also buy the book “Vocabulary and Grammar for the TOEFL Test” which also belongs to the series. I also purchased the latest version of the practice tests from Barron’s to simulate the procedure on the exam day.

Unfortunately, I was still under time pressure towards the end of my preparation time and had to go through many practice tests quickly. So do it better than me and plan more than enough time buffer.

A tiny observation about the exam: In my case, all the test participants sat in one large room. As a result, it occasionally got louder in the exam room during the Speaking section. You have to be prepared for this to avoid being distracted. Therefore, it might be wise to work conscientiously and more quickly on other tasks if you feel more confident in them. If you don’t want to do this, you can take more time to read the instructions between functions. This puts you slightly behind the other participants in terms of time, which can be an advantage during the speaking exam as it is quieter.

My preparation may seem very complex and time-consuming for some people. It was, without question. However, a good test result was significant to me, so I didn’t find a university for which my result needed to be higher. That would have been very annoying.

To all those who are just starting to prepare or are about to take the test, I wish you all the best for the test!

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