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TOEFL is not the most crucial part of the application, but it is unavoidable part, which sometimes can be quite painful and time consuming. You must pass TOEFL is order to be considered for graduate studies. To pass means to receive the score of at least 237 (550 - old units) - which is quite bad, but acceptable at some universities. The score above 250 (600) will suffice for all universities if you are applying for technical specialty (and usually will suffice for all other specialties too). The maximum possible score is 300 (667). For more details on the test and scoring system visit official TOEFL website and particularly FAQ section.
To evaluate your current level you can take free test on-line (you need to register before you can do that), free paper test at the Moscow Library of Foreign Literature, or find a book. You can also view sample questions on-line (paper test: Section1, Section2, Section3 or CBT). Usually one can expect to improve his score by 50-100 "old units" after 3-5 month of everyday work of 2-4 hours a day. The higher your initial score is the longer it will take to improve it by the same number of points. It is highly advisable to start preparing for TOEFL as long beforehand as possible, if you can start preparing half a year before the test it is good if a year before - even better. Remember that you are striving for at least 250 (600) (as long as it is above that number it is not so much important what your exact score is).
First of all, expect to work hard, there is no easy way to learn the language.
To prepare for the Listening Comprehension section (40-60 minutes, 30-50 questions):
* Listen to the native American English speakers: CNN, movies, books on
tapes, American radio (you can listen via internet if you have fast
To prepare for the Grammar section (15-20 minutes, 20-25 questions):
* Do exercises from Grammar books. I would recommend the following
books: R. Murphy English Grammar in Use, Cliff's Preparation for
To prepare for the Reading section (70-90 minutes, 44-55 questions):
* Read as much as you can. Try to read diverse literature: novels,
educational articles, newspapers. Pay closer attention to the
educational literature since this is the type of texts you will have
on TOEFL. If there are a lot of unknown words in the text, it's ok not
to check all of them in the dictionary, try to figure out words from
To prepare for the Essay (30 minutes, 1 topic):
The only way to prepare for the essay is practice. Of course, you
need to repeat grammar rules (which you also need for Grammar section)
and punctuation, but without practice this won't give you good essay
score. There is a number of ways to practice writing:
Barron's How to Prepare for the
Computer-Based TOEFL Essay
The most detailed book I know for preparation to Essay writing. If you are serious and patient about getting high score on the essay this is the right book to use.
|Barron's How to Prepare for the TOEFL|
TOEFL Test Preparation Kit (Book & CD-ROM)
Contains full actual paper-based tests. You will find these tests easier than in most other books. Good for extra practice. I suggest not to buy this book but just do the tests at the library.
Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test
Excellent preparation to Listening Comprehension section. Good Grammar and Reading section. Contains full tests. 8 tapes for listening exercises and tests. Highly recommend getting this book.
Great book for intermediate to advanced level students. Has some reviews and plenty of good practice questions, all answers are given without explanations. Highly recommend for those who are quite confident about taking TOEFL and need little preparation.
|Cracking the TOEFL by Princeton Review|