Preparing for TOEFL Examination
published by Dimitar Kakalov
One of the greatest accomplishments for a non-native American student is passing the TOEFL exam. It is the gateway for the student to get into a U.S based university, obtaining professional certifications needed for work. In some instances, it also is a pre-requisite for employment. Most accredited universities and colleges require non-native English speakers to take the TOEFL exam is often something they must take prior to enrollment. Furthermore, “TOEFL’S influence also extends beyond academia, since “many government agencies, school programs, and licensing / certification agencies use TOEFL scores to evaluate English proficiency.” (Raimes,1990, 428) TOEFL, which stands for, Test of English as a Foreign Language is a primary measure of a student’s competence in the English language which is administered at test centers worldwide. There are various formats available including a paper based exam and a web formatted.
Most non-native speakers imply that the examination is very rigorous because it tests a student’s strengths and weaknesses in four focal areas: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Mastery of the English language is a pre-requisite because the exam includes an array of applied topics including grammar, idioms, listening skills and vocabulary. In order to successfully complete the exam, the following recommendations were made by the Sharpe (2004)
1. Have set expectations. Prepare for as many topics as possible when practicing for the TOEFL. Review as much sample material as you possibly can. Practicing will help better enforce the learners understanding of the subject matter.
2. Grammar and idioms should be reviewed extensively, including with tools such as flashcards and Web-based or software supplements.
3. Practicing for the exam by using textbooks, courseware, or a mixture of online tools helps develop a stronger learner.
4. Practice for the exam by taking a practice test. Setup the test taking environment similar to that of what would occur in the real environment to become adjusted to the expectations. .
Xin (2008) indicated that “Knowledge of the second language is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success on the test tasks”, since success needs to be measured in terms of performance on the task but not only in terms of knowledge of language. Structure and written expression section attempts to use an indirect way to exam the competence of testers in writing” (p. 56). Because the exam uses a variety of methodologies to test grammatical and written competence, practicing for the exam is essential if one wants to pass. Because the test is so comprehensive and measuring one’s ability to learn and work in a non-native language, review, study, and practice using tools is important to pass.
Raimes, A. (1990). The TOEFL test of written English: Cause for concern. Tesol Quarterly, 24(3), 427-442.
Sharpe, P.J. (2004). How to prepare for the TOEFL test : Test of English as a foreign language. Barron Educational
Xin, Z. (2008). Practice on assessing grammar and vocabulary: The case of the TOEFL. US-China Education Review, 5(7), 46-57.
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