Preparing for TOEFL

Preparing for TOEFL
Applicants to American private schools for whom English is not their first language must take a test known as TOEFL.
If you are thinking of applying to an American private school and English is not your first language, you will have to take a test known as The Test of English as a Foreign Language. Known more commonly as TOEFL which is pronounced TOE-full, this is an important part of the private schools admissions process. So let us examine what is involved and how to prepare for the test.

What is TOEFL?
TOEFL is a standardized test administered by the world-famous Educational Testing Service. ETS is based in Princeton, New Jersey and has been around since 1947. It is an old, very established, highly regarded testing service. ETS is a not for profit organization.  ETS administers all kinds of tests which are given at over 9,000 locations in 180 countries.

Why do you need TOEFL?
TOEFL assesses your proficiency in writing and understanding English as well as speaking it. In order to study in an American private school where all the classes are given in English, you must demonstrate your ability to understand and speak English in an academic setting.

How do you take TOEFL?
TOEFL is offered in two testing formats. The most common format is the Internet Based Test of iBT as ETS calls it. This is a test which you take on a computer in an authorized testing center. The other format is the PBT or Paper Based Test. It is only offered six times a year as opposed to the internet based test which is given 30-40 times a year depending, of course, on the country where you are taking the test.

Where do you take TOEFL?
You can take TOEFL at over 4,500 test locations in 130 countries.

When do you take TOEFL?
Test dates vary according to the local demand for testing services. For example, Paris, France will have many more testing dates available than Poitiers, France. 

What does it cost to take TOEFL?
The cost of TOEFL varies from $150 USD to $225 USD. You pay for the test with a credit card when you register online.

What if I am disabled?
The testing service will do its very best to accommodate people with disabilities. ETS has very detailed information on tis site. Make sure that you allow plenty of lead time in order to apply for the special accommodations which you require.

How do you prepare for TOEFL?
The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test, TOEFL Practice Online and Engaging English™ Service are all part of the preparation materials which ETS offers on its site. In addition there are dozens of commercial preparation books and online services available. See the list at the conclusion of this article.

Is it worth taking special courses to prepare for TOEFL?
That depends on your individual situation. It probably makes sense to work a practice test and see how you score. If your scores are really low, then tutoring or taking some English as a Second Language courses might be the easiest way to remediate any deficiencies you might have.

Are there any free web sites which can help you prepare for TOEFL?
There are hundreds of sites which offer English as a Second Language help and instruction. This is an excellent way in which to learn English. The key to learning any language is constant, consistent practice in speaking and writing the language. Another way to improve your English skills is to spend some extended time with an English speaking family. That way you will be forced to both learn and use the language.

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Standardized tests are a large part of the admission process at many private schools. Here you’ll find information on the most commonly used exams and how to prepare for them. Explore the tests, what the scores mean, and how the schools will use them.