offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh TOEFL Prep.

How Hard is the TOEFL?

So… Is the TOEFL Easy?

When it comes to preparing for the TOEFL, the difficulty of the test is the elephant in the room (meaning everyone is wondering about it, but no one quite knows what to do). Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. The research that has been done on the subject has one major, unavoidable flaw: it’s very difficult to scientifically determine language difficulty. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the individual sections of the test and consider their difficulty as best we can.


How Hard Is the TOEFL Reading Section?

Generally speaking, TOEFL reading is near the same difficulty as reading authentic American news sources, although the subject matter and vocabulary aren’t exactly the same. News media are not as focused on science and history as the TOEFL is.

That academic focus is a large part of the difficulty. According to a study from 2012, TOEFL reading is slightly more difficult than the average written English text, largely because the reading section uses more academic vocabulary. But this sense of “difficulty” depends on your native language, in part. That’s because there is no conversational, informal English in the text—only material you might find in a book that you read for a university class. And if your native language has Latin roots (e.g. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, or French), then academic English may be easy compared to informal English, because academic English often has Latin roots. If your mother tongue isn’t Latin-based, though, those academic words are more difficult, because they are rare in general English. Words like “comprise,” for example, show up more often in TOEFL reading, but only rarely in relaxed speech.

Meanwhile, the timing of the reading section can also cause some serious trouble. You must be able to read those academic texts at a natural pace. Maybe you can work slowly through an article in the New Yorker with the help of a dictionary, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a top score on TOEFL reading. You have to read 750 words and answer 10 multiple choice questions in just 18 minutes.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

That said, the TOEFL reading is easier than reading comprehension on the GRE, GMAT, or SAT, because you don’t need to understand as many subtle details. You only really need the plain information that is written, rather than the author’s intentions.


How Hard Is the TOEFL Listening Section?

For a lot of students, the listening section is the hardest. The reading section has the hardest vocabulary, but the listening section gives us two major problems that the reading doesn’t. First of all, the recordings, though they are slightly slower than natural speech, are otherwise completely natural. They include all the “umms,” “likes,” “y’knows,” and sloppy pronunciation that make American speech sound the way it does. Second, you can only hear each recording once, and they can be over five minutes long. It’s tough to pay attention that long, and it’s even tougher to remember the information from the beginning of the lecture once you get to the questions. If you can listen to lots authentic speech (TV shows, for example), then you’re in a good position.

That’s not to say that the TOEFL listening is very similar to American or English TV. It’s not. TV shows are much more difficult, on average, because characters speak more quickly, use more idioms, and often speak at the same time as each other. TOEFL listening is comparatively simple (even though it is often academic, about scientific topics). But keep in mind that the listening section is difficult largely because of the amount of information you hear and the expectations of memory. You need to take notes and remember a lot of detail!


How Hard Are the TOEFL Speaking and Writing Sections?

I’m going to group these two sections into one, here, because they’re equally hard to measure. Consider two things:

  • 3/4 of speaking and 1/2 of writing are about reading and/or listening
  • There are no “right” or “wrong” answers to measure difficulty with

On that first point, the difficulty of these sections is very similar to the difficulty of the other sections, because they include the same skills, the same academic vocabulary, and the same “natural” speech that you listen to. So you might say that these two sections are similar in difficult to the reading and listening sections.

But on the other hand, answering a question such as “Name a person you respect, and explain why” can give a very wide range of answers, depending on your level of English. So you might say that it’s a “hard” question because you can give a complicated answer. But you could also say it’s “easy,” because a simple answer with common vocabulary is also possible. What I mean to say is that the difficulty here is based largely on how advanced your vocabulary and grammar are. It’s really just a range from non-communicative up to native-speaking. The difficulty depends on you and your vocabulary and grammar.

If you’ve started practicing for the TOEFL and find it to be really hard, check out our TOEFL prep. 🙂 Happy studying!

Psst...Need more TOEFL practice? Start your FREE TRIAL today.

Most Popular Resources

74 Responses to How Hard is the TOEFL?

  1. hadeel March 28, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    the reading section is the hardest one for me because it’s hard to focus on analyzing and breaking out the sentences inorder to choose the right answer while the time is passing.I hope you can give me some tricks or strategies to get over with the reading section.


    • Kate Hardin
      Kate Hardin March 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Hi, Hadeel,

      Yes, the reading section definitely isn’t simple. I recommend that you keep checking in on this blog to get reading tips, and also that you learn about the types of questions you can be asked on the TOEFL reading section. Then you can find reading material at a good level for you (try,,, or magazines about science/history/art, such as Smithsonian, National Geographic, the New Yorker, and so on. One great activity you can do is to practice writing questions that look like those on the TOEFL, but using the material from your independent reading. Thanks for writing! Feel free to drop by anytime you have another question!

  2. jackie May 17, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    My toefl exam will be on June, and as of now i’m putting all my attention in developing my speaking fluency. Although i was educated using English language, i still have some troubles in expressing myself in spoken english continuosly. I need to get at least a score of 26 in the speaking section for my license. In short, my success in toefk speaking section will determine my career. Is it hard to have a 26 in speaking?can you give my an advice to attain my goal? Thank you in advance!

    • Kate Hardin
      Kate Hardin May 18, 2014 at 6:37 am #

      Hi, Jackie– Thanks for writing in! A 26 on the speaking section is a high score, so you’ll need to demonstrate a high degree of fluency and variation in your speaking responses. That being said, it sounds like you’re on the right track, since you’re focusing on fluency. Feedback from a native speaker is one of the best things you can do for your fluency and expressiveness. If you’re willing to pay a little (far less than for a private tutor), I’d recommend checking out, which is a great resource for meeting with native speakers who are experienced English teachers. Otherwise, you can find a tandem partner through,, and other sites of that nature. Try to work on expressing the same idea in different ways. You can use a thesaurus to help expand your vocabulary, and a native speaker will be able to guide you away from the silly words and towards the expressions that native English speakers use every day. I hope that helps, and good luck!

  3. Ashna June 5, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    I have to give my exam in July and I really can’t figure out what should I do should I take proper coaching or just read the books as English Is not my native language I’m really confused and can’t figure out anything I would be really grateful if you’d help me

    • Kate Hardin
      Kate Hardin June 5, 2014 at 7:24 am #

      Hi, Ashna– It really depends on you, what your strengths are, how much time you have, and how you learn. Have you looked at my 30-day study guide? If you start that now, you may be able to get a better idea of how much you can do on your own and how much a tutor could help you. The great thing about a tutor is that they can give you feedback on speaking and writing, which are practically impossible to correct on your own. I’d recommend that you start by studying mostly on your own and do some private tutoring, maybe through an online service like Voxy. After a few weeks, you can decide whether hiring an in-person private tutor is what you need. Great question–thanks for writing in!

      • Heidi October 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

        Hi, Kate.
        I can’t find your 30-day study guide on Magoosh website!!!
        Is there anyway possible for you to send me the Link please.
        I appreciate your help in advance

      • Martin Klinchev September 27, 2016 at 10:18 am #

        Hello! So i have been studying English for nearly 12 years now, i have a certificate from the American University in Bulgaria for completing a 6 months course from Intermediate 1 to Advanced 1. I have just taken the TOEFL iBT and i need 75 points. I would like to know, based on my record, would i be able to get the 75 points I need. I hope you can help me, thank you in advance!

  4. sparsh June 7, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    actually I am in 12 and I want to take admission in university of Calgary and it requires 83 score in TOEFL. after reading the above comments I am a bit confused that will it be an easy test or difficult one. can u please help me section- wise that what comes in what section and on part will we have to focus more. to improve my vocabulary and fluency what can I do.

  5. Nigar August 16, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    I think the hardest part of TOEFL is speaking section, because you have to think very quickly for 15 seconds and have to answer it for 45 seconds in organized style. It is difficult to focus on what to speak before answering. And the most difficult section is integrated speaking, you have to read the reading passage, take notes , then you have to listen to Listening section after all of them you have to integrate both section and answer them very quickly. I think all of these distracting, there 6 tasks in Speaking section in TOEFL and all 6 tasks differs from each other with its rules.
    Also Writing section is difficult , both independent and integrated, I think in order to write well you have to be a writer, because a lot of things to do well is challenge.
    I made 61 score because of speaking and writing section. They say even Nature Americans don’t take such difficult exams like TOEFL , I think it is unfair.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas August 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughts! You’re absolutely right that the TOEFL speaking section is the one that many people hate the most. It can be difficult to speak in such a short time, and even harder to plan. But with practice it does become easier! The speaking section requires less advanced English vocabulary and grammar. It has more focus on comfort with the task. And you become more comfortable with the task the more often you do it. 🙂

      You’re right that English-speaking Americans don’t have to take any tests that include a speaking section like the TOEFL, which can be so stressful, but we certainly have other tough tests, like the SAT, GRE, GMAT and others. But again, with practice and energy, they can become much easier!

  6. Nokuthula Wathi August 31, 2014 at 7:18 pm #


    I have just taken the TOEFL this past Saturday (August 30, 2014) it was so difficult. The reading and the speaking sections were the most difficult. English is not my native language, and throughout high school, we learnt it as a second language. But when I wrote the TOEFL it felt like I don’t know English at all.My scores will be due in two weeks time.I am so nervous, do the graders consider that you ain’t a native speaker when they grade you?

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas September 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi Nokuthula,

      The TOEFL can be very hard, I know! But yes, the graders know you’re not a native speaker—that’s what the TOEFL is for! It is the Test Of English as a Foreign Language. 🙂 But the goal is to be as similar to a native speaker as possible.

      But if you have years of experience with English, I think it will show! Don’t think about it too much now, because you can’t be sure. If you get your scores later and they’re lower than what you need, then you will simply want to study the test and prepare to retake it. 🙂 You can always improve a score with practice!

  7. Ali September 6, 2014 at 10:21 am #


    I have my TOEFL exam in a week and i just wanted to ask that i haven’t really quite studied for the exam and whenever i try to do any papers they seem pretty easy and it doesnt feel like a challenge to me to take that test but just for fun i did take one complete test and was able to get a score of 84. I have done my O level in 10 subject and they all are As including English in which i have an A*. What do you think i should do ? i have my paper in a week any help and support would be highly appreciated.
    thanking you in advance 🙂

  8. Nokuthula Wathi September 12, 2014 at 7:27 am #


    Finally my TOEFL scores came through, I got a 78 and I know that I can still improve. I am glad I got 78 because I had expected far less than this, the way the test was difficult.I think I need more practise tests in order to improve my score, any further suggestions you may have for me?

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas September 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      Congratulations on getting higher score than what you expected! There are many different ways you can improve. The most important thing is to **use English** every day. Read, listen, speak, and write regularly! Taking practice tests and learning about the TOEFL is very important but you should do more than just that. Keep practicing your English communication skills!

      How much you should study the actual test and strategies for answering well depends on what you have done already. But regardless of that, English practice always helps.

      Find your weaknesses and focus on improving them. Good luck!

  9. huda September 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    hey , thank u for all the amazing information , i m having the toefl exam in about 10 days i m very nervous , is studying one book enough ? i have been preparing for two weeks now is it enough or not ?
    ( btw i need a total score of 71 )

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas September 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      Whether two weeks of studying (or one book) is enough for you depends on your English level. It might be enough if you’re already comfortable reading difficult English texts and holding conversations. Without knowing you personally, I can’t say whether two weeks will be enough time for you. But a month of focused study is enough for many students who only need to learn the format of the test. 🙂

  10. Dahee Seo September 22, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    I think the most difficult part is speaking part because I have to say in very short time and ready time..
    Anyway, i have a quesition about TOEFL exam. I have been studying for 3 months. However, my exam score is not high.
    I think i releatively studied hard. My score is 69. I don’t know i’m going well know.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas September 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Hi Dahee,

      I understand what you mean about the speaking section! Many students feel the same way. I think it’s the most troublesome section of the test. But learning the way to structure your answers and helpful phrases can make it much easier. Keep practicing!

      And remember that score improvement depends on where you start from. You probably made a lot of improvement since you started studying 3 months ago. If you keep using English every day (read, listen, write, and speak!) you will continue to improve and reach even higher scores.

  11. Marcos paulo September 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    Whats up?I’m from Brazil and i’ll do this test next week.I can really understand what people are talking about in movies and tv shows.I understand some songs and I can hold a conversation anytime I want and I can talk about everything.Some stuffs are a little bit hard to talk about for me like government but I really have tried.So I know that you can’t say too much about my english but if you trust in what I said how would you score me? I’m waiting for that because I’ve got some

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas September 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Hi Marcos,

      It sounds like you already know my answer—it’s really difficult to say, or even impossible! I could give you a very rough guess for the speaking and listening sections, but not for the reading and writing, because you only mentioned your conversational practice. It sounds like you’d score over 20 on both speaking and listening, but keep in mind that both sections test more than just your ability to listen and talk. They also test your ability to take notes, remember information, and structure information. So I’m afraid I can’t be any more specific than that!

  12. Omowunmi Ojelade October 8, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    Hello, please am taking the test in 2 weeks. I feel nervous already even doe i dont have any idea of it. Please What do I need to know. I need a complete guide.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas October 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      If you’re taking the test so soon, the best material for you is the Official Guide. That explains the format of the test and gives you three practice tests. Learn from those practice tests! If you know the format of the test and what is expected of you before you start the test, you’ll do much better than you would if taking the test with no preparation.

      This TOEFL blog will also help explain all the parts of the test. 🙂 Keep reading!

  13. Million October 18, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    Hello everybody, especially Lucas. I appreciate for the helpful guidance and reply you are giving us here in the thread and I’m loving it. I studied my BSc from a university in Ethiopia where the medium of instruction was English and I believe I have a good command of the English language, though not fluent. Now I’m planning to take my TOEFL exam within the coming two weeks to proof my English proficiency for my graduate program applications. So can u guys please recommend me some must do tips?? I also want Lucas to give me a rough estimate of my overall score if I take the TOEFL exam.

    With regards,

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas October 28, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply sooner than this! I hope your studies have gone well. 🙂 If you’ve already studied in English at a university, I think you will be in very good shape for the test (by the way, many schools don’t require TOEFL scores if you have studied at an English-speaking university before, so you might want to check with the programs you’re applying to). As for tips, studying the TOEFL in a short time is all about learning the format of the test. If you know exactly what to expect, such as the types of questions that are in the speaking section and how much time you will have, and you have practiced that format before, you will be much more comfortable than if you haven’t studied the specific structure of the test. Practice your note-taking, too! Learn exactly what amount of notes is best for you—students often have problems with taking too few or too many notes. As for an estimate of your score, that is impossible to do without more information. I know nothing about your speaking, listening, or reading skills just from this blog comment, and very little about your vocabulary. I wouldn’t want to make a poor estimate that misleads or confuses you!

  14. Nemo November 2, 2014 at 6:31 am #


    I’m giving the TOEFL in a week’s time, and have admittedly taken it a little lighter than I should have. Well, anyway, there’s no time like the present, and my practice test scores are giving me a bit of confidence. I’ve minimum requirements of 90-100 and would really appreciate some last minute advice on how to bump up my scores from an 85 avg to a 100+. I live in India, but am quite comfortable with spoken English. Having said that however, the thought of the speaking section gives me the chills. I ramble on and fumble quite a bit during practice recordings. Any thoughts and suggestions on the same would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas November 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      If you’re trying to stay focused on the speaking section, I should really stress how important your notes are, as well as your experience with practice questions! Your goal is to structure your answers very neatly. For example, in speaking task 1, you will know to spend ~10 seconds stating the main idea, ~15 seconds stating one reason, and ~15 seconds describing a second reason, and you will have each of those parts noted on your paper so you always know what you will say next. It takes experience to make that structure feel natural! Just keep answering TOEFL questions and paying careful attention to how much time you spend on each piece of your answer, not just the whole answer.

  15. Naresh Goyal November 13, 2014 at 3:49 am #


    I am from India and have a few questions as beneath:
    1. How can we send scores to a university? I heard something called as ETS; unsure what exactly it does and how it sends marks obtained.
    2. What’s the current minimum time required to successfully book a seat to attend the exam? I read somewhere and it said that I need 3 months of prior admission. How true?
    3. I can type in at least 65 words per minute flawlessly. Will that aid me more?


    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas November 14, 2014 at 11:28 am #

      Hi Naresh,

      I can help with these questions!

      1) When you register for the TOEFL, you will have the option to list university programs who should see your scores. ETS is the company that creates the TOEFL. They will tell you your scores and send score reports to the universities that you list in your registration. You can also send scores to universities that you choose after taking the test and seeing your scores. That costs money, though.

      2) The time necessary to register for a test date depends on the testing location. Some locations fill up very early—anybody who said 3 months might have had that experience. It’s sometimes possible to register for a test as close as a week to the date, if there is room in the center. Check the ETS website to find out about availability near you:

      3) Yes, that will help. 🙂 The writing section is timed, and length is important, so your typing speed will be a great asset!

  16. Naresh Goyal November 18, 2014 at 5:56 am #

    Howdy Lucas,

    Thanks a million! You have cleared a lot of my concerns! Have a great week indeed! Cheers,

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas November 18, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      You’re more than welcome!

  17. Pradyumna January 2, 2015 at 12:20 am #

    I had taken toefl 2 months back. I had got a score of 67.This was due to the low score in the listening section. I have difficulty in doing this section. The difficulty is that when the lecture is going on I’m not able to jot down all the points. So when the questions are asked based on the lecture, I’m not able to answer most of the questions. How can I improve upon this?
    I’m planning to take toefl again on Jan 10th..

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas January 6, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

      Note-taking is one of the most difficult parts of the TOEFL, I know! The most important thing, especially in such a short time, is to find the amount of notes that works best for you. Don’t try to write down every detail! I have seen many students succeed by taking zero notes. I don’t recommend that—in general, taking at least some notes is very beneficial—but it makes an important point. If you try to write too much, you will have difficulty hearing everything. Focus on hearing and understand first. Then take extremely short notes just to remind you of that part of the recording. In other words, take structural notes—not all the details.

      Good luck this weekend!

  18. Ann January 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm #


    Happy new year, greetings from Macedonia 🙂
    It is very nice from you Lucas for helping people. I will appreciate your thoughts about my questions.

    I have just graduated in my country but i’m thinking to continue with Master in Austria (Vienna/Graz).
    I was very good speaker before 5 years from now. But now i see i even do make mistakes from writing this and i need more time to focus..

    First – From where to start, how exactly should i pay attention to the language? How to start – books, tutorials..?
    Maybe this is hard for answering, but i was going to a special course for English for 8 years as a child; i have had a best score at the exam at my University, but i feel like i am not prepared and i don’t know hot to start preparing. The only start for now is searching to the internet and i found you 😀 What should be next?

    Second – Could you be more direct and specify me some prices that might cost me for the exam? If you should not do this I totally understand, but you could just tell me your opinion with “close to” prices 🙂

    Third – Is it better to take the exam in my country or to apply for it in Austria, or it doesn’t make any difference?

    Also as non EU citizen my Master costs will be high, therefore i wish anything i should do to prepare myself will be at a minimum cost level.

    Hope to hear from you.
    Wish you all the best <3

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas January 12, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

      Happy new year to you, too!

      It sounds like you have a good amount of book knowledge of English but could use some more conversation practice. Here are some more tips from our TOEFL blog:

      How to practice TOEFL speaking
      TOEFL speaking practice

      There are lots of other posts to get you started, too! You might want to check out our TOEFL book reviews to research some resources. 🙂

      The price of the TOEFL depends on which country you’re in, from $160 to $250. You can see the full pricing on the official website.

      As for where to take the test, there’s no clear advantage to one location over another. Some test centers are more crowded, which can make it difficult to focus during the speaking section, when everybody is speaking at the same time. But I don’t know specific test centers in Macedonia or Austria to tell you which center has the smallest group of test-takers or which has better staff/facilities. Most likely, there will be no big difference.

  19. Pissed off lady February 10, 2015 at 2:25 pm #


    I took the TOEFL test for the first time last month and I am really upset with my result, 89.. for many plp it should be a great mark! But for someone pursuing a masters like me, it’s nothing. I’ve done IELTS before, to go to England, where I spent a year studying part time. That’s why I am so upset!! I can communicate pretty well in English, also write, listen and read..

    I don’t know whether I cry or calm down…

    I would really appreciate if a kind soul could give me some tips on how to hit 100 points practicing during a month (or some weeks) as I’ve got to apply again for another test and have no time to take a preparatory course.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas February 15, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear you didn’t hit the score you need! The TOEFL is a very unique test; I think the simple format of it may have caused some problems. I can’t give extensive advice without knowing more about you personally, but if you would like advice on how to best take the TOEFL, our blog is full of tips. 🙂 We also have a premium product with 100+ lesson videos and 150+ practice questions! Keep studying the test and the best strategies, and you absolutely can make improvement within just a few weeks. Good luck!

  20. maya March 30, 2015 at 3:02 am #


    I appreciate a lot your blog.
    please i need your advice : is it possible to send result also the application to university just 15 days before the deadline, or should be better sending now the application, then score after result??


    • David Recine March 31, 2015 at 8:01 am #

      Great question, Maya. It sounds like you’re really working hard to submit the best possible university application. I’d love to be able to answer your question. But the truth is that the rules for applying are different for every school.

      Only the university you’re applying to can tell you if you should send your application right away, or wait until you have your TOEFL score. It’s best if you contact the university admissions office and ask their advice.

      • maya April 6, 2015 at 6:12 am #

        thanks for your advice,i’ll contact the university admission office as soon as possible.
        i still preparing for my test i need just a score with 61.i can’t yet speak english fluently and during my preparation i get score between 17 and 20 for each .
        please ,do you think i can get 61 in my test??? i’ll pass it after 20 days!

        • David Recine April 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm #


          If you’re getting a score between 17 and 20 for your Reading and Listening, that’s a good sign that you’ll be be able to get a 61 on test day. However, you’ll also want to be scoring well on TOEFL Wiring and Speaking, which are scored on a 0-4 scale. To see more about exactly how the TOEFL is scored, read Kate’s very helpful post here: .

          If you have 20 days to study, be sure to make the best possible use of your time. Which skills are you strongest in, and what parts of the TOEFL are hardest for you? You may want to focus on the parts of English/TOEFL where you feel the weakest.

          To plan your next 20 days, look at Magoosh’s study plans too. The plans are just suggestions. You can change them to meet your needs. You’ll probably want to look at our two week ( and one month ( study plans for guidance.

          Like I said, it sounds like you do have a good chance of getting a 61, based on the scores you’ve mentioned above. But your final score will ultimately depend on how well you’re able to do on all four sections, and how your study plan goes.

          Good luck, and thanks for including Magoosh in your plan for success!

  21. M. Ehsani April 17, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    my TOEFL exam is on 15thJune. I have many problem with it. In the reading part, I always remain some question blank. I can not answer all the question. in the speaking part I can not speak fluently. What should I do? please help me.

  22. David Recine April 20, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    Hello M. Eshani,

    For reading, it sounds like you need help with your pacing, so you can read at a faster speed. There are a lot of reasons you may find yourself reading too slowly. I recommend looking at some of this blog’s posts on reading speed:

    Common TOEFL Reading Difficulties:
    Finding Evidence in TOEFL Reading:
    Pacing Tips For TOEFL Reading:
    How to Save Time on the TOEFL:
    Getting Around Vocabulary Road Blocks:

    Those posts have advice for just about any kind of problem with pacing in the TOEFL Reading section. Look through those posts, and find the advice that matches your problems with reading speed.

    As for speaking fluently, what are your specific speaking difficulties? Do you have trouble finding the right words to say? Or do you have trouble using proper, understandable English grammar? Is it a problem with pronunciation? You can look under the Magoosh TOEFL blog’s Speaking category ( for all kinds of advice. But if you can tell me a little bit more, I may be able to direct you to specific posts and resources.

    Good luck,
    David Recine

  23. Finn June 11, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Hi. I’m actually a native speaker (half australian), but my dad (german military) is being posted to america so I’m trying to study in the US. Should I expect anything difficult? I’ve had english classes every year in germany and scored 15 points (A+) in the Baden Wuerttemberg Abitur. Should that suffice or will I deal with something different. The sample questions on ets looked manageable enough

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas Fink June 16, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

      If you’re a native English speaker, than the TOEFL should be no problem for you, but if you have to take it, I do recommend getting familiar with the question types ahead of time. They can catch even native speakers off guard, since they have such specific demands of you. That said, if you’re native, there’s also a possibility you won’t have to take the test at all! If you don’t see definitive answers on the websites of programs you’re going to apply to, email the admissions offices to check.

  24. Nouf June 17, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Just wanted to say thank you! Your website helped me a lot with my anxiety over the test. I didn’t study for the TOEFL except for doing one practice test and managed to get 113/120! But I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I went to the exam with the jitters I was feeling on the day before it 😛
    Thanks again!

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas Fink June 22, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

      Congratulations on that score! I’m glad we were able to help you along the way. Good luck in your applications!

  25. Cee September 15, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    Thanks for all the great tips on your blog. I will be taking the test in 3 days. I have been preparing but I don’t want to underestimate it either. I have listened to all your practice guides and taken note of your comments, it has been really helpful, thanks a lot. Will let you know of my score when it comes out. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks once again. Wish me luck.

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel Wisuri September 18, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      Good luck, Cee! 😀

  26. Cee September 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    My result is finally out. I scored 83 which is way more than what I require. I would have liked to score higher though, but I was brought down because of the reading section which I didn’t finish because of time. Anyway, am glad I scored higher than what I need, which is 60, and I want to say thank you so much for all your help.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas Fink September 28, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      I’m glad we were able to help! You’re more than welcome.

  27. Sowrabh March 3, 2016 at 6:20 am #

    is IBT exam different for BE and for MS?
    If it is different .. you know , how should I work on the test to get 100+ for BE in abroad?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 4, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

      Your question raises an interesting point about TOEFL difficulty– part of how difficult the TOEFL is depends on how high of a score you need to get! For a Bachelor’s of Engineering, you’re likely to face the same average TOEFL score requirements as any other type of four year degree, so applying for the BE won’t make the TOEFL easier or harder. For an MS in Engineering, many schools actually require lower-than average TOEFL scores, making the TOEFL easier for the purposes of applying to these kinds of grad programs.

      Of course, every individual school has different policies. You’ll want to contact individual schools and programs that you’re interested in— only the school itself can tell you exactly what score you’ll need.

  28. Mohammed May 3, 2016 at 12:42 am #

    Thank you very much for all your help and time answering all the questions you were asked about.
    As you know that the main reason why many people are taking the TOEFL test is that they want to get admission to study abroad.
    For my part I need to take this test to apply for a scholarship which required the toefl over 80.
    I have studied english language for two years in one of the considerable institutes here in Yemen
    but I still afraid to take the toefl test so I decided to spend extra eight months to prepare for it.
    I hope you can help me planning this eight months and I am wondering if it was possible to give me the right way which makes me capable to get a high marks in the TOEFL test.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

      We’re always happy to help, Mohammed. 🙂 To figure out your exact best plan for passing the TOEFL, you need to consider a lot of factors, including your past studies goal of 80 or higher… but also including many other things. Consider your abilities in all the various TOEFL skills, your performance in past TOEFL practice, how much spare time you have to study each week, and so on.

      Magoosh offers some suggested study schedules that can help you think about exactly how you’ll plan your studies for the next several months. And if you get a TOEFL subscription with us, we can provide extensive support for any study plan you choose. I recommend looking over ETS’s free TOEFL Test Prep Planner as well— all of this can help you put together a course of action that really works for you as you build on your past studies to aim for that 80+ target score.

  29. Omar July 5, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    I took the TOEFL test when I was in the ninth grade. I got a score of 75 which was something I was happy about until i heard the that almost all medicine universities require a minimum of 79. I waited until I reached the 11th grade so I can re-rake the test in order to have my TOEFL score available when i apply to a college before it exceeds the validation date ( WHICH IS 2 YEARS ) . The score will come out in a couple of days and I’m really excited about it. I just wanted to know what is the average score of native English speakers in the TOEFL test.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 5, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Omar. Congratulations on finally getting to your retake!
      ETS offers data for average TOEFL scores all test-takers. Each year, these average TOEFL scores are released in an annual statistical report. Here’s the report for 2015. Per the document, the average score for English speakers who take the TOEFL is 92. But you may be more interested in the average scores of non-native English speakers.

      In the document, average scores are given for different groups of test -takers. On page 6 of the document, you can see TOEFL scores for high school students listed by percentile. Based on the chart, the average score for a test-takers in your age group is 71. So you’ve already gotten above the average for high school– nice work! (The average for all test-takers worldwide is 81, but that’s less relevant to you and your target score.)

  30. arjun August 20, 2016 at 12:10 am #

    Hii Viewers how are you? I m Arjun i would like to share my excitement regarding TOEFL achievement of getting 87 without knowing pattern and preparation. But i m having an habit of watching English Movies. So please dont fear with out taking test. Its little bit simple

  31. lizzy September 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    “For every hour I spend writing, I spend three hours thinking about writing.” – Malcolm Gladwell – this quotation is excerpt from an award-winning author. How come TOEFL expect us to write well on the WRITING section for only 20 minutes for Integrated writing and 30 minutes for Independent writing? Considering that English is not our native language. If an award-winning author is having a hard time constructing sentences, how much can we be?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

      I’ll answer this question in two ways: First, you and Malcolm Gladwell may be right– it really may not be possible to do truly brilliant, award-winning writing in the TOEFL time limit. Second, the task on the TOEFL is— perhaps oddly— not to do great writing. Instead, the task is to successfully write according to strict academic instructions and standards. The makers of the TOEFL and the schools that require the TOEFL would argue that this is a very important skill for university studies. But some education experts argue that the TOEFL Writing Section is not the best measure of college readiness.

      Either way, it’s definitely possible to pass the TOEFL Writing test inside the time limits. But you may not create a truly brilliant piece of writing in the process.

      • lizzy September 14, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

        Thank you for the response. I just feel upset with my toefl score, they scored me 18 on my writing task. I thought I did well. I am also surprised when they gave me 3 sets on the Listening section, that’s why it took me so long to finish my entire toefl exam. I don’t know if I still have a chance to pass my toefl.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

          It sounds like you you got the extra-long section on the TOEFL. That happens sometimes— sorry it happened to you!

          I’ve seen a pretty limited sample of your writing. But based just on these two posts of yours, you seem like a good writer, better than an 18-level writer. Sometimes if you get a low score on TOEFL Writing, it’s because of the specific requirements of the TOEFL Writing Tasks, and not because of your overall English ability. If you already have good writing skills, you should be able to pass TOEFL Writing on the retake, so long as you carefully look at the requirements and format for the two TOEFL Writing Tasks.

          I recommend you look at the official Writing rubrics for the TOEFL. Read them carefully and make sure you satisfy every rubric requirement in your TOEFL essays. You should also look at the sample TOEFL Writing responses on the TOEFL website. This can help you get an idea of what a top-scoring essay looks like. You can also get official example TOEFL Writing responses with scores and scorer commentary. You’ll find those in the Official Guide to the TOEFL.

          Additionally, it’s important to realize that TOEFL Writing can’t always be learned through self-study alone. It could help to show your TOEFL Writing to other people for feedback. You can do this for free on the Internet’s various TOEFL forums. And it may be a good idea to also pay for a few sessions of TOEFL tutoring online, or face-to-face.

  32. Patience June 10, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Hi Lucas
    I am deciding on writing the Toefl ibt for a proffesional registration and visa requirements.Do you have an resources that l can use to improve my grammar as l think that will be my weakest area, since English is my 2nd language.I also need to resources for the orher components as l need at least 100/120 marks.Thanks for your help

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Patience,

      I recommend that you check out our free Magoosh English program, which includes video lessons that cover the most important topics in English Grammar 🙂

      I recommend that you check out our Magoosh TOEFL eBook resources. These resources will bring you through much some of the essential strategies and information you need for the exam.

      Also, have you considered becoming a Magoosh Premium student? As a Premium Student, you will have access to our comprehensive TOEFL prep program as well as hundreds of practice questions and support from our team of test prep experts! You can give us a try with a free 1-week trial 🙂

  33. Tracy May 26, 2018 at 5:02 am #

    why reading section is difficult? because it gets borring. I passed 3 times TOEFL IBT. they choose the most borring texts to make people sleep… Once I got a text talking about what materials egyptians used to decorate, I though “nice, lets talk about gold, gems!” then I got a text describing 4 different types of woods, how easy or not was to carve on them and stuff. I was about to put the pencil through my eyes….. so you better drink some good coffee and calm yourself. don’t get distracted. you have quite a lot of time.

    • David Recine
      David Recine May 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm #

      You raise a really good point, Tracy. The TOEFL articles aren’t guaranteed to be written in the same interesting, engaging style you might find in a popular magazine or website. And they certainly aren’t guaranteed to cover topics that every test-taker will find interesting. There are ways you can mentally prepare yourself to minimize your boredom on the TOEFL, however. See out Magoosh TOEFL Blog article “Finding Your ‘Buy-In’” for some tips and tricks on how to stay alert and at least somewhat interested while dealing with TOEFL topics.

  34. Maria July 6, 2018 at 4:24 am #

    I will take my toefl exam tomorrow and I am not really comfortable speaking in english. I find it really hard even though I’ve been practicing.
    I can say that the speaking section will give me a hard time. I just hope that I can get the score that the university is expecting me to get.

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 10, 2018 at 7:58 pm #

      The “speaking anxiety” you face can be a real challenge, Maria. But it’s a common challenge among students. One piece of advice: regardless of concerns you have about your English speaking ability, stay calm. It can help to pretend you’re just taking in English to a friend, or that you are just practicing and not in the real exam. Calmness gives you confidence, and a confident English speaking tone and pace can really boost your TOEFL score, even if your pronunciation, intonation, etc. are less than perfect. 🙂

  35. Mr Swag December 18, 2018 at 11:36 am #

    I will take the test early spring 2019 and I need to get a score of at least 61. I am already nervous for the speking part because 15 seconds to prepare a monolouge that will be graded sounds terrifying to me. Pretty sure I will do ok on the reading, writing and listening parts though. Will I still be able to get 61 on the test even if I stutter a lot during the speaking but do ok/good on the other parts of the test?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 19, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

      Hi there!

      Each section of the TOEFL (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking) has a possible score of (0 – 30), and the total score is out of 120. If you do reasonably well on the other sections of the TOEFL, it is possible to get a 61 on the test even if you don’t do as well on the Speaking section as you’d like.

      With that said, don’t worry too much about stuttering on the Speaking section. As long as it is still possible to understand you, raters will not be overly harsh about this. If you focus on showcasing your grammatical and vocabulary knowledge, you may still score well on the Speaking section. 😀

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply