Test Day Techniques for TOEFL Success


There are a number of promising college opportunities for international students, but prospective applicants will most likely be expected to submit their scores on either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL can be costly, and it therefore requires careful research and preparation. Having studied the format of the TOEFL, and perfected your TOEFL-related skills, consider these day-of techniques for TOEFL success:

Remember that the TOEFL truly begins the evening before your test date

Preparing for the TOEFL is as much about your actions before the exam as it is about the test itself. Ideally, you should practice self-care in the week leading up to the exam. While we cannot plan our illnesses, we can try to avoid them—ensure you follow a healthy diet, especially in the case of dinner the evening before your test and breakfast the morning of. Focus on “brain” foods like salmon and spinach, and drink enough water. Avoid caffeine frenzies and sugar rushes, and remember, your careful preparation will not matter if you cannot remain alert during the exam. Diet, exercise, and sleep are equally as important as studying.

Dress for testing success

Avoiding discomfort on the day of your exam is also key. Wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable and at ease as well as confident. Keep in mind that your goal is to feel like you are fully able to focus, no matter the test center’s temperature. While the Educational Testing Service (ETS) strives to provide stability in its testing centers, you should be prepared for cold and hot conditions, as the size of the space and the number of people sitting for the exam may vary. When in doubt, opt for layers.

Plan your travel in advance

You can avoid added test-day stress by planning your travel in advance. This includes having a reliable means of transportation to and from the testing center. Also consider variables like traffic and other potential delays. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled start time. Stay organized, and compile all of your necessary registration documents the evening before. You can check those requirements here.

Review the testing policies

When you sign in to the testing center, you will have your photograph taken, and you will be assigned a seat. This is routine, so do not fret. Remember that no electronic devices or food are allowed in the testing room—be sure to review the full restrictions online. Test-takers are allowed to use the restroom at any time during the exam, but be aware that the clock will remain running while you are away from your seat. While there is a mandatory 10-minute break that could serve as your bathroom break, do not make yourself uncomfortable by waiting.

There are an abundance of reliable materials that can help you study for the TOEFL. Once you have perfected your TOEFL test-taking strategies, as well as the day-of techniques above, you should be prepared for your exam. Good luck!


Sasa Afredi is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

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