If you’re applying to top schools, you may need to go for the holy grail of TOEFL scoring: a 100 or higher. How can you get this highly competitive score? Will getting 100+ even be possible?
I’m happy to tell you that yes — this is a possibility if you take the right steps. Here are some things you can do to have a good shot at that 100 TOEFL iBT score.
Build a Strong Base of Academic English Ability
Getting a 100 on the TOEFL doesn’t necessarily require native-like English. But you will need to have academic English abilities that are comparable to those of a native speaker. So before you start working on your test skills, get your academic language skills in order. Reach a point where you are very comfortable reading academic texts, listening to academic lectures, and producing English speech and writing in academic contexts.
Educational and informative English language websites (Smithsonian, CNN, TED Talks, Khan Academy, etc.) are a good place to practice academic reading and listening. For academic speech and writing, you should share your English essays and talks with study partners. Giving video speeches to English speaking friends or writing informative English posts on social media is another way to build up your academic English abilities.
Get Feedback and Guidance From Native English Speakers (or highly skilled non-native speakers)
Reaching native-like academic English ability is easier if you have help from native or near-native English speakers. Seek out teachers, tutors, or classmates who have very high English ability. Get their guidance and feedback as you practice your own English and go through TOEFL questions.
Feedback from highly proficient English users is especially important when you practice TOEFL Speaking and Writing. The official score guides for TOEFL Speaking and TOEFL Writing can help you rate your own English to a limited degree. But to really learn how to get your English speech and writing to that 100-point level, you should share those rubrics and your TOEFL responses with an English user who is even more proficient than you are.
Know the Test Itself, Inside and Out
To reach or pass the 100-point mark, you need to know the TOEFL test better than the average test-taker. Make an effort to really understand all of the different question types for TOEFL Reading and TOEFL Listening. Pay attention to all the structural differences between a TOEFL Listening conversation and a TOEFL Listening lecture. Understand how questions are ordered and arranged in Reading and Listening question sets. Know the structure of the different TOEFL Speaking and TOEFL Writing tasks.
The better you know the exam, the more confident and calm you’ll be on test day. You’ll know exactly what to look for, what to listen for, and how to find and give answers. These “test smarts,” along with a sophisticated knowledge of the English language, can help you reach your high 100-point goal.