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3 Ways to NOT Get a Top Score on the TOEFL

Here at Magoosh, we love helping you do the things you should do to get a top score on the TOEFL. Today, we’ll also tell you some things you should avoid. To get the best score that you can, don’t make the following common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Use Only Third-Party TOEFL Prep

Don’t get me wrong. There are some fantastic unofficial TOEFL prep companies out there, including Magoosh TOEFL. But no company is able to make perfect TOEFL-like content 100% of the time. Third party practice materials are useful, but “real” TOEFL practice materials are a must-have.

This means that you need ETS-sponsored materials from the official TOEFL website or from one of the ETS TOEFL books. (The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test, Official TOEFL iBT Tests Vol. 1, and Official TOEFL iBT Tests Vol. 2.) Only these official ETS materials have practice questions that are 100% guaranteed to be like the ETS-created questions you’ll see on test day.

Mistake #2: Practice Certain Question Types and TOEFL Sections, But Don’t Do Full Practice Tests

Imagine that you’re considering buying a used car. You turn on the engine, run the windshield wipers, and check to see that the air conditioning, radio, horn, and lights are working. Do you buy the car right after that, or do you take it for a full test drive? You’ll want the full test drive, of course!

A full practice test is like a test drive for your TOEFL skills. Don’t sit for the test until you’ve had the whole TOEFL experience and determined that you’re ready for the real thing. It’s good to focus on the specific parts of the TOEFL where you need the most practice. But taking the exam after only doing individual question types and question sets is like buying a car without driving it. The only way to truly know you’re ready for the exam is to take a complete practice run.

Mistake #3: Only Practice English With TOEFL Materials

Passing the TOEFL requires good test skills, of course. But the test is truly a measure of your English skills in general.

As you prepare for the TOEFL, be sure to get in some “real” English practice.  Read educational English articles and books, not just TOEFL Reading passages. Listen to TOEFL lectures and conversations, but also listen to TED Talks and speech in English movies and TV. Don’t just speak English into a TOEFL microphone; speak it with real people too. Along with your practice TOEFL essays, write emails, social media posts, or journal entries in English. Test-specific skills alone can’t take your score all the way to the top. But a mix of TOEFL prep and general English practice can get you a high score.

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