How To Prepare For TOEFL in 2024 (Complete Strategy)


Table of contents


Picture of Aayush Nagpal

Aayush Nagpal

Lead, Lending Partnerships and Research

While applying to universities abroad, a good TOEFL / IELTS score is a must. In this article, we’ll offer you a complete strategy on how to prepare for TOEFL.


Before we get into it, what is a TOEFL exam?


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test applicable to non-native English speakers. Every student must submit either their IELTS or TOEFL scores if they wish to apply to an English-speaking university. 


There are four sections in this test, based on which you will be assessed. They are – listening, reading, speaking, and writing


The time required to prepare for TOEFL varies by individual. So, to find out how you can prepare for TOEFL, you’ll first need to understand the exam structure.


TOEFL preparation: exam structure

For your TOEFL preparation, you must learn about each of these sections.


Section Estimated Timing Questions/Tasks Description
Reading 35 minutes 20 questions Read passages and respond to questions
Listening 36 minutes 28 questions Answer questions about brief lectures or classroom discussions
Speaking 16 minutes 4 tasks Talk about a familiar topic and discuss material you read and heard
Writing 29 minutes 2 tasks Read a passage, listen to a recording, type your response

State and support an opinion in an online classroom discussion


To know how long it takes to prepare for TOEFL, navigate right down to the FAQs section below.


This section includes 2 passages, about 700 words long each. Each of the passages will have 10 questions, and you’ll need about 35 minutes to complete the Reading section.


Some question types include inference and rhetorical purpose, prose summary, vocabulary, and more.


If you’re wondering “how do I prepare for TOEFL?” in a visual manner, you can watch free videos for this section.


How can you prepare for your TOEFL exam’s listening section? For this, you must listen to both lectures and conversations. While you’ll have 3 lectures of about 3-5 minutes each, with 6 questions for each lecture, you’ll get to listen to 2 conversations each of about 3 minutes, with 5 questions for each conversation.


This section will test your comprehension skills through you ability to analyze the speaker’s attitude, and figure out all the connecting bits of information. Completing the entire listening section should take you about 36 minutes.


It consists of four tasks that mimic situations you might encounter both inside and outside a classroom setting.


The first task is an Independent Speaking Task, where you’ll need to respond by relying on your personal ideas, opinions, and experiences. The next three tasks are Integrated Speaking Tasks where you might need to listen and speak, or read, listen, and then speak.


Before you respond to each task, you’ll be allowed a preparation time of about 15 to 30 seconds. Your responses will be either 45 or 60 seconds long, depending on the task. To answer, you’ll speak into a microphone, and your answers will be recorded. The entire Speaking section is designed to be completed in about 16 minutes.


Keep in mind that 1 out of 4 of these questions may have an ‘accented’ speech – the speaker may be from North America, the U.K., New Zealand or Australia. To get a better idea, listen to one of these audio files.


The writing section will test how well you write and are able to present your ideas. You’ll have 2 tasks in this section. For the Integrated Writing Task, you’ll need to read a passage, listen to a lecture, and then write a response based on what you read and heard. This task shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes.


For the Academic Discussion task, you’ll have 10 minutes to write about an opinion that you support. The entire section should be completed in about 29 minutes.

TOEFL preparation strategy 2024

Each section will need a different TOEFL preparation strategy. 

How do I prepare for TOEFL’s reading section?

You’ll need to consistently read and stay updated on current affairs. Regularly read articles, passages, and newspapers to gain confidence.  Analyze the texts multiple times to make sure you got the main idea. Get some reading practice now! It’s the best way to prepare for TOEFL.


If you’re hoping to prepare for TOEFL in a week (more time is recommended), the key is to practice comprehension – convert reading materials into question-and-answer formats to grasp the main ideas and details. Another best way to prepare for TOEFL is to build your vocabulary.


If you’re wondering how to prepare for IELTS and TOEFL through gamification, you’ll like this.

How do I prepare for TOEFL’s listening section?

Coming to the listening section, the key is to understand connections – you must observe the connection between ideas and the sequences of a story. While looking into how to prepare for TOEFL and IELTS, you must pay attention to tone of voice for the listening section. During your practice time, ask yourself what their tone is signaling. Notice all the emotional cues.

Test your listening skills now.

How do I prepare for TOEFL’s writing section?

As for the writing section, you must have a good hold on grammar. Make sure to practice writing every day – you can continuously work on summarizing articles, answering questions at the end of your textbook chapters, and mastering spelling and punctuation to ace the section.

How do I prepare for TOEFL’s speaking section?

The speaking section is mainly about pronunciation and clarity. When you develop your vocabulary, your English will immediately become more fluent and clear. Practice speaking to yourself (or record yourself) and use pauses to make your speech coherent. Make sure you connect all the parts of your speech so there’s a clear organization of thoughts.

How will you be scored in GRE Exam?

When you wonder how to prepare for the TOEFL exam, you must look into the scoring format. As you can see, each section has a score range of 0-30. All the scores are added up and scored out of 120.


Skill Level
Reading Advanced (24-30)

High-Intermediate (18-23)

Low-Intermediate (4-17)

Below Low-Intermediate (0-3)

Listening Advanced (22-30)

High-Intermediate (17-21)

Low-Intermediate (9-16)

Below Low-Intermediate (0-8)

Speaking Advanced (25-30)

High-Intermediate (20-24)

Low-Intermediate (16-19)

Basic (10-15)

Below Basic (0-9)

Writing Advanced (24-30)

High-Intermediate (17-23)

Low-Intermediate (13-16)

Basic (7-12)

Below Basic (0-6)


Did you know: you can find a university ranked in the top 100 for your program of choice, with a TOEFL score requirement that you can easily fit? 


Make your selection through SelectRight.

Also Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Study in the UK Without IELTS

Advantages of taking a TOEFL exam

The exam is recognized and accepted by thousands of universities and colleges around the world, including top institutions in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.


The TOEFL exam accurately evaluates your English fluency at the university level, covering reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.


It’s known for its objective and fair scoring system. The speaking section, for example, is scored by multiple raters, which minimizes bias.


When you take the TOEFL exam, you also increase your chances of getting scholarships.

FAQs: TOEFL preparation

  • How long does it take to prepare for TOEFL?

How much time to prepare for TOEFL varies by individual, but typically, 2 to 3 months of consistent study is recommended for most test-takers. 


  • Can I prepare for TOEFL in a week?

How much time do I need to prepare for TOEFL? If you’re thinking how to prepare for TOEFL in a week, it may be challenging. It’s possible to review key concepts, but for substantial improvement, more time is advisable. Some even prepare for TOEFL in 5 days!


  • Can I prepare for TOEFL at home?

Yes, with a range of online resources, practice tests, and books (Barron’s how to prepare for the TOEFL, Collins English for Exams, TOEFL Listening & Speaking Skills, English Grammar in Use (5th edition), and Cambridge University Press to name a few), you can effectively prepare for the TOEFL at home. And how long to prepare for TOEFL at home depends on your consistent efforts.


  • Is it necessary to join a coaching class for TOEFL preparation?

Not necessarily. How to prepare for TOEFL at home? Many students successfully prepare on their own using online resources and books. However, a class can provide structured learning and feedback.


  • What is better, TOEFL or IELTS?

The choice between TOEFL and IELTS depends on your personal strengths and the requirements of the institutions you’re applying to. TOEFL is often preferred by American universities, while IELTS is widely accepted in the UK, Australia, and Canada. Consider the test format, scoring system, and which exam aligns better with your language skills.


Understanding how to prepare for TOEFL involves more than just studying; it’s about integrating English into your daily life to improve your fluency and comprehension. To ace this exam, your TOEFL preparation must be foolproof – with consistent dedication, strategic planning, and practice.


Picture of Aayush Nagpal

Aayush Nagpal

One of the core members of GradRight's founding team, Aayush has been associated with the higher education sector for the past 6 years. His never-say-die attitude & go-getter mentality makes him an invaluable asset to the company.

Get discovered by Top Universities

Find The Best University and Programs Based on Your Profile

Explore SelectRight
Related Blogs