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Breaking Down the TOEFL for Indian Students in the US

Breaking Down the TOEFL for Indian Study Abroad Students

What is the TOEFL?

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In addition to the GRE, the TOEFL is another standardized test which gives universities in the US an indication of the English language ability, in reading, listening, speaking, and writing of international students. Most applicants should feel pretty comfortable with English if they’re applying to study in US since the application itself requires proficiency. Furthermore, given that all your classes at university will be taught in English, it’s fair to say that receiving a good score on the TOEFL is crucial being admitted. Moreover, more than a simple application requirement, from my own experiences studying in the US, one’s English language abilities are extremely important to doing well – even if your program may not require to write numerous essays, you will receive instruction in all your class in English, and you will inevitably have to give presentations, go through interviews, and even just interact with your classmates, all of which will be in English, so do not take this test lightly!

Structure of the TOEFL

Without a doubt, the TOEFL for international students is a very long test, going up to 5 hours, and assesses various facets of the English language. The test is broken down into four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing, in that order, with a break after the first two sections.

Reading Section

The reading section is relatively similar to that of the GRE, except that it is far simpler. You can receive one of two formats, either a short one of 60 minutes or a long one of 100 minutes – which one you get is not up to you.

  • Short Format (60 minutes)
    • This has three passages of about 700 words each
    • Each passage has about 12 – 14 questions
  • Long Format (100 minutes)
    • This has five passages of about 700 words each
    • Each passage has about 12 – 14 questions
    • Only three of the five passages will count towards your score, the other two are experimental and do no matter. However, you do not know which ones will be counted so you must put your best effort into all of them.

Listening Section

This is a section most international students are unfamiliar with, involving listening to conversations or lectures and answers questions in relation to them. For the listening section as well, you can receive either a short or long format, determined by what format you receive for the reading section – if you get the long format for reading, you will get the short format for listening, and vice versa.

  • Short Format (60 minutes)
    • This has two conversations and four lectures
    • Each conversation/lecture has 5 – 6 questions
  • Long Format (100 minutes)
    • This has three conversations and six lectures
    • Each conversation/lecture has about 5 – 6 questions
    • In a similar fashion to the reading section, only two conversations and four lectures will count towards your score, but you won’t know which ones.

Speaking Section

Following a 10 minute break, the speaking section is 20 minutes long and tests one’s ability communication in the English language. The test is broken up into six tasks.

  • Tasks 1 and 2
    • You will be asked to speak about something familiar, such as a personal experience.
    • You will receive 10 – 15 seconds to think, followed by 30 seconds to answer the questions.
  • Tasks 3 and 4
    • You will be asked to respond to a passage you read and a short conversation that you listen to.
    • You will receive 10 – 15 seconds to think, followed by 30 seconds to answer the questions.
  • Tasks 5 and 6
    • You will be made to listen to an audio clip and remember the key aspects of it.
    • You will be made to answer the questions regarding the clip for about 45 – 60 seconds.

Writing Section

This is a section which should be relatively familiar to those who have taken or prepared for the GRE, made up of two essays, an “Integrated Essay” and an “Independent Essay.”

  • Integrated Essay
    • In this section, you will be given two minutes to read a passage on an academic topic, followed by a recording of someone speaking about the same topic.
    • You will receive 20 minutes to plan and write an essay of about 150 – 250 words in relation to what you read and listened to, and you will have access to the passage but not the recording.
  • Independent Essay
    • In this section, you will be made to write an argumentative essay on a given issue; you will have to take a stance and support it with evidence.
    • You will receive 30 minutes to plan and write an essay of about 300 – 350 words.

Preparing for the TOEFL

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Preparing for the TOEFL is really all about familiarizing yourself with the test, which can only be done through taking TOEFL practice tests and sample tests. Many international students fall into the “overconfidence trap,” assuming that they will be able to perform very well on the TOEFL exam just because they can fluently speak English and then performing very poorly because they didn’t take the time out to practice and understand the structure of the test.

There is an enormous amount of resources available for the TOEFL, not only from TOEFL books but also from TOEFL practice online. Many people will be uncertainty about the listening or reading sections, especially those who haven’t had much experience with such tests in the past, for which there exists targeted TOEFL listening practice and TOEFL reading practice. Some students may also be worried about their vocabulary, and while the TOEFL is certainly far easier relative to the GRE’s required vocabulary, there are still resources available for TOEFL vocabulary.

Ultimately, while the TOEFL test does not need a long term study plan for most individuals, it still requires a significant amount of time and effort. TOEFL preparation material and TOEFL practice is available everywhere, make use of some TOEFL books and the range of TOEFL study materials available to you, and you will do very well!

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Understanding the structure of the TOEFL and finding the right resources to practice can be tough, but Nomad Credit is happy to help you navigate this difficult process and ensure that you have a smooth ride ahead.

Please also visit us at www.nomadcredit.com to search for student loan (also known as an education loan) options. Please don’t hesitate to email us at help@nomadcredit.com if you have any questions.

 

 

 

Aditya Tandon

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