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10 TOEFL Test Taking Strategies

Greetings from Vaidy. I would like to share my TOEFL test strategies. I took TOEFL during September. I went to center with a clear mind and peace, but no preparation. I managed scoring only 94.

I will be taking GRE on November 17, 2010. Please let me know if I should retake TOEFL once again. I am planning to apply for MS in Aerospace engineering or Electrical engineering in Georgia Tech, Fall 11.

TOEFL Strategies

I felt the below things are more important to shine in TOEFL.

  1. Patience (Since the exam is very lengthy). Also some test centers make you wait for a long. My appointment was scheduled at 10 AM. I kept waiting. I was allotted a system at  12 PM. I lost my patience there. So , please ensure that you don’t lose your focus.
  2. To improve your English (Listening and speaking), keep watching CNN, BBC, NDTV news channels and listen to cricket commentary. I did this during my schooling. Talk to yourself in English looking at the mirror.
  3. Try reading Newspaper daily (Word by word, not the headlines alone).
  4. Whenever you communicate through SMS, Mail etc try to use English professionally. ( Avoid using U instead of you, what doing instead of what are you doing).
  5. One cannot develop English all of the sudden. Its a gradual progress. Since I was in CBSE school (English medium), It was little easy for me. I also did many presentations, seminars and promo events. That helped me a lot.
  6. Take a practice test before you schedule a date and see where you stand. (Which I didn’t do).
  7. Speaking section requires clarity and projection of your view. You don’t have to be bombastic with your words.
  8. Be confident and dream a lot. Sometime this works out. Bring all your positive energies to your thoughts and it will make you succeed.

Lessons learned: TOEFL Test

  1. Never take anything light though it may be easy. Nobody knows how things will change. We could see Bangladesh wrapping up the ODI series against New Zealand which nobody expected.
  2. Never lose your focus and calmness which plays an important role in your scoring.

I am now preparing for GRE. I am using following GRE books

  • Nova for Maths
  • Barrons/Nova for Verbal

I got Q 700, V340 in my first practice test. I have only 20 days to go. Please do suggest me some tips to score 1200. My strength has always been Quants. Q800 +V400 is possible but I am not able to attain the perfection in Quants.

My acclauds to HSB.

Note – 94 in TOEFL is good scoe, you don’t need to re-take TOEFL. Also, test strategies you have listed is very useful. Thanks for sharing with HSB readers. Since Vaidy shared his TOEFL experience, I gave a free review of his Statement of Purpose.

There is no short cut to raise your GRE score in 20 days. Try your best, increase your practice tests and spend more time learning strategies for Verbal section.


  1. madhav on January 19, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    sir please let me when can i retake the toefl test .i took my test on sunday jan13 …i have confusion regarding the retake policy which says 21 days…can i take it on feb 03 or should i take it on feb 16?

    • HSB Counselor on January 19, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Hi Madhav,
      Yes the TOEFL test can be retaken once in a 21 day period. Thus you can retake the test on 3rd Feb. as you complete the 21 day span on 2nd of Feb.
      Good Luck!

  2. Waqas on July 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Hello there everyone . I have a question to ask you guys . I am giving GRE Exam on 25th of July . After that I am giving TOEFL exam on 28th . Will i be able to prepare in 2 days ?? Will the preparation for GRE help me in TOEFL ?

    P.S: My English level at the moment is above average .

  3. Anonymous on August 24, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Hi, Mitesh.
                            I am going to give TOEFL on September 28 and I am not confident in speaking and writing section. What should I do to score better in these sections.  Please help me,  Mitesh

  4. Srinu on July 26, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Hai…am New to these Tests and have little Idea ……Can U suggets me the Books and CD’s for TOEFL to get best score….!

    I Need the process of study in a Particular manner for one month preparation , as am Not fluent in english and hardly have less time for preparation .
    Suggest me the books which can helpul to get good score

  5. Mitesh on February 8, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    79 TOEFL iBT

  6. Mitesh on February 8, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    I gave my TOEFL iBT exam on the 22nd of January and i got 113 in TOEFL exam. I got 27 in reading , 29 in listening , 30 in speaking and 27 in writing …… HSB helped me a lot in study material, thanks to HSB. Contact me if you required any suggestion. I also gave my GRE and i got 1360.

    • ashok on June 30, 2011 at 10:13 PM

      hi mithesh please can i would really like your help here,iam a fellow aspirant of gre and toefl…i got a score of 410-440 and 710-740 range on my first practice test for gre…please suggest me as to how to improve my score.and toefl prep tips..i am scheduled for gre on october,so i do have ample time..anybpdy else may also give their valuable inputs..thanks HSB for creating a brilliant forum

    • ashok on June 30, 2011 at 10:21 PM

      hi mithesh please i would really like your help here,iam a fellow aspirant of gre and toefl…i got a score of 410-440 and 710-740 range on my first practice test for gre…please suggest me as to how to improve my score.and toefl prep tips..i am scheduled for gre on october,so i do have ample time..anybody else may also give their valuable inputs..thanks HSB for creating a brilliant forum

    • Pooja on August 25, 2011 at 4:51 AM

      Hey hii , can u share something about ur preparataon strategy for toefl

    • Ola Mnit on September 7, 2011 at 7:27 AM

      Hi Mitesh,
      First thanks to you for posting your score. I also gave GRE and got 1380(Q-800, V-580) and now I am preparing for TOEFL so please help me to good score in TOEFL. 

      Thank You.

    • sameera on November 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM

      Hi Mitesh,

      basically i am a telugu medium student…………

      I did my intermediate also in telugu. And i got less percentage (57) in my i did my graduation in electtronics. But i want to do MS in mathematics. I want to take GRE exam in february 2012. But my verbal score was not good in my practice test ( 139 /170) and my quant score was 157/170.

      please suggest me , how to improve my score…. and plz tel me some average GRE score MS universities in USA for MS in Mathematics ……

  7. latha on November 15, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    my son's toefl score card not recvd by post. but its available in the site. Is it a problem if we keep the wesite scores print screen as hard copies when wesend the documets

  8. suman on November 1, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Well thank you richa for giving me some more useful informations about toefl test!!

  9. Richa on November 1, 2010 at 8:49 AM


    TOEFL Score above 80 is considered as good. Most of the universities prefers 80 Score. Some of them also accept 70 But anything below 70 is not good, if you have scored below 70 I would recommend you to retake your toefl exam.

    Tips For Toefl:

    1. Reading section is easy as compare to GRE Verbal but do not take it lightly. Do some practice tests

    2. Listiening is very easy if you understand american accent.

    3. Speaking section is a bit tricky, you should practice it by using stopwatch, try to speak clearly, minor grammatical mistakes are considered as ok. But you should practice all 6 questions twice to get good score. Do not forget to take notes of important point while listening to questions.

    4. Writing section is also easy in first question Do take notes otherwise you will forget speaker's opinion, and DO NOT WRITE ANY THING DIRECT FROM GIVEN TEXT. otherwise they will deduct your marks. Always use words that are different fron given text.

    In second question is very easy.

    I would highly recommend Princeton Book For tofel specially for Speaking and writing. It is awesome book they clear your fundas. For practice Kaplan's book is best.

  10. Suman kalyan pal on November 1, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    Hi,, vaidy

    Its nice to get the toefl study tips.Yes nothing should be taken lightly and ofcourse listening news channels are the best ways to improve listening skills.

  11. dhawal on October 31, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    my GRE 1400 nad TOEFL i need to retake TOEFL.

  12. Kushal on October 27, 2010 at 5:40 AM

    Hi.. Vaidy!

    Thanks for the tips… I am preparing according to your tips and i am having my TOEFL exam on 31 october 2010… Wish me luck… Thanks again for the tips..

    And ya.. 94 is a good score in TOEFL… you don't need to give it again..


  13. kalai on October 26, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    i have done my GRE scored 1140 and i am going to take my TOEFL nov 13, surely the tips organised me, thanks for HSB which i am continuously following from my GRE prepration started,and thank you Vaidy too….

  14. kalai on October 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    hi Vaidy take practice test using powerprep the same approximation result will come in your actual exam its true in my case too,and try to remember all the frequently asked GRE words (in kaplan, some words in powerprep practice test)which will be very useful in verbal section. and quants you will crack i think

    ALL the best…

  15. Aster on October 26, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    My TOEFl experience was a pretty good experience . I scored 115 and had not worked seriously on it more than 3-4 days. It helps to make sure u do background check about the test taking centers available before you schedule your test. The test focusses more on how well u will be able to understand and communicate back in a timed environment and what I found most helpful was practising the note making and aswering sections . As long as you answer in a crisp clear manner to questions by citing reasons followed by examples you should be fine.I found most people have trouble with the time management and background noise that one might experience in a test center.

  16. Michael on October 26, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    Hey the tip was gr8…actually i got low score in my toefl its 64….so do i need to retake my exam????hope to hear soon from you….

  17. WASEEM AKRAM H.K on October 26, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    I do follow happy school blog, but u concentrate only on studying in U S A, i want to know about m s in GERMANY. nov 15 am taking my g r e for fall 2011, can u give some suggestions, tips about germany and the respective universities is aerospace stream

  18. saumiya on October 26, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    hey..thnx 4 the tips..n all the best 4 the GRE..

  19. Neeta on October 26, 2010 at 3:17 AM

    Hi Vaidy,

    Thanks a lot for ur strategies. Hopw it will help me for my toefl. And all the best for your GRE. Give your best.

  20. NS on October 26, 2010 at 3:12 AM


    TOEFL is not complicated like GRE Verbal. My daughter scored 104 and her friends 108 and 112. Yes it is lengthy and annoying when you take it in peak season, since many will be doing their speaking section when you are doing listening or writing. So try your best to concentrate on what you are doing. There are many web based practice tests that you can try. All the best to all test takers.

  21. vaidyanathan on October 25, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    Dear HSB,

    Thanks for your comments. I am planing to write GRE as per schedule (Nov 17th).

    But depends on the last practice test. Please let me know about the difference in Applying Fall 11 and spring 12. Will AID or scholarship get affected.

  22. aftab khan on October 25, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    valuable strategy and all d best for ur GRE also keep posting this kind strategies .


  23. Umank on October 25, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    Nice.. I got TOEFL on the 31st of this month.. this is gonna help me A LOT.. thank you very much :))))

  24. spoorthy mayur on October 25, 2010 at 10:13 AM


    I totally agree with your TOEFL strategies. I gave my Toefl on 17 oct and haven't yet received my scores. I did find it very lengthy. You sometimes loose your concentration in between. Taking deep breath once in a while helped me calm down. I am a ICSE student and I too found it comparatively easy. But it was truly very lengthy. And your advice on 'U' is really true. I typed U instead of you in many places and had to edit it later.

  25. vishnu on October 25, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    i dont thing 20 days is enough to prepare…gre is tougher than toefl and dont go by the mock test score(just telling)….quant u can easily take 750 + if u follow all that u said for toefl ….verbal know the 5000 words in barrons (u dont hav to know everything by heart )….and the golden rule in verbal :dont waste time in RC …even if u get it wrong it doesnt matter as it usually comes in the middle section

    • vaidyanathan on October 25, 2010 at 6:26 PM

      @vishnu: About golden rule.

      What can be done if u get RC in first 6 questions of verbal? My friend had such situation. In 20 days I think 770+430 must be achieveable. Lets see. Might reschedule the date but i am already running late. Pl suggest on how to handle analogy.



  26. Hari Krishna on October 25, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    Hey me too… I too studied in a CBSE school and English seems quite easy to me. I studied at Defence Laboratories School.

  27. Govil Hegde on October 25, 2010 at 9:09 AM


    Firstly, congratulations on your TOEFL score.

    As far as your GRE is concerned, I will paraphrase what I have read on this forum previously. Dont think that reading many books will help. ETS doesnt really pick words from BARRON's or KAPLAN's. Try to read whatever material you already have (Nova for Maths and Barrons/Nova for Verbal) fully and exhaust its contents. That should really help. Taking more and more tests is the best tip I would give you at this moment. Time is of the essence for you right now.

    As far as improving your vocabulary goes…Keep using the words you learn in your daily communication; should help a lot.

    Good luck with your GRE and your future!

  28. harsha on October 25, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    Hi Vaidy,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your TOEFL experience. Well, i am yet to give TOEFL, but i already gave GRE. I scored 1330(Q-760, V-570). Whatever tips u gave for TOEFL, i personally feel that they are very useful. Coming to your problem, first of all relax, whatever books you purchased are the best books for preparing in the short amount of time that you have. You are doing quite good in Quant section, but i would suggest you to do as many different questions as possible in Quant. Completing the problems given in Barrons as well as Nova is a must if you are really aiming for 800 in quant. In Verbal section, my simple suggestion would be to get familiarized with the words completely. By that i mean read all the 3300 words from Barrons (this is the best book for Verbal) atleast once, so that when you try to attempt the questions like analogies and antonyms you will not not feel like it is a daunting task. Spend as much time as possible in a day for preparation.

    The day before exam just keep every books aside and do anything which relaxes your mind like listening to songs, etc. A good night sleep before the exam is a must (which i really missed due to some personal reasons). Well, finally, just have a positive attitude, believe me that really helps. Just feel that whatever you know is enough, and whatever you see on the screen, you can answer.

    Well, my score is not that much high so as to give advice to someone, but the important thing is i prepared for GRE in exactly 45 days time. since you too seemed to be facing the problem of shortage of time, i tried my best to share my views. All the best to everyone out there preparing for GRE.

    My accolades to HSB for their continuous support.

    • vaidyanathan on October 25, 2010 at 6:32 PM

      @ harsha: Thanks a lot harsha. U have a very good score. I am aiming just for 1200. As in HSB – GRE is not the only criteria. I am almost done with my resume, SOP and reco. The only barrier is GRE. I have a decent profile. My achievement is listed in

      Pl try evaluating my profile.

    • Neeta on October 26, 2010 at 3:32 AM

      Hi Harsha,
      First I would like to congratulate you for your GRE score. Congrats dude. Hey I am planning to appear GRE exam shortly. Can you please share me about the books you used, strategies you followed, your more experience about GRE with me. Because getting such a good score of 1330 in exams like GRE with preparation in such a small time of 45 days… Great dude. For further info, my mail id is [email removed – admin]

  29. mm on October 25, 2010 at 7:04 AM


    Try and study Kaplan's advaced verbal workbook for GRE. It helped me a lot.

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