How Long Does It Take To Prepare For The TOEFL?

How Long Does It Take To Prepare For The TOEFL?

How Long Does It Take To Prepare For The TOEFL? 

By Clara Muiruri  

This is a question that comes up a lot from our potential TOEFL test-takers. Generally, there is no one-size-fits-all approach as we all have different learning capabilities.  

The TOEFL test is actually quite an easy test if you have a fairly decent grip on the English language.  

So how long does it take to prepare for the TOEFL realistically? Well, it will mainly depend on two factors; your current level of English and the desired test result.  

The first thing you want to do is take an official TOEFL sample assessment test to assess what level you are at.

Once you have the scores, apply them to your desired TOEFL score to find out how much preparation you need.  

Is 10 Days Enough to Prepare for the TOEFL Test?  

Well, it all depends. 

Ask yourself the following questions first; 

  1. Have you taken a sample TOEFL assessment/ diagnostic test?
  2. Do you know your desired TOEFL score?
  3. Is the gap between your current and desired scores less than 15? 

If you answered yes to all then 10 days would totally work.  

Let’s look at how a 10-day preparation plan would look like; 

DAY 1: Get to Understand the TOEFL Structure

Below is the structure of the TOEFL iBT Test

Section TimingDescription
Reading54 – 72 minutes
30 – 40 questions
Read 3-4 passages then respond to questions
Listening 41 – 57 minutes
28 – 39 questions
Listen to brief lectures or a classroom discussion, then respond to questions
BREAK10 minutes
Speaking 17 minutes
4 tasks
Speak about familiar topics, and also discuss material you read about and listened to
Writing50 minutes
2 tasks
Read a passage, listen to a recording and then type your response

DAY 2: Assess Your Level  

Even if you consider yourself proficient in English, the TOEFL format might be unfamiliar to you and it is good to understand it.  

The best way to determine how ready you are for it, is to take a TOEFL official practice test.  

LTS offers FREE TOEFL practice tests at their test center every Friday; 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. so take advantage of this free resource with the added benefit of taking it a test center which will help you familiarize yourself with the testing environment and help calm those nerves come test day. 

While doing it, try to imitate the real-life scenario of the exam. Such an exercise is necessary to assess how realistic it is for you to get ready for the TOEFL in the shortest time.  

After taking the diagnostic test, see what you score and compare it to the desirable one. If you are missing some 10 – 15 points, ten days should be sufficient for you to improve your scores. However, if you aim for 100 and the practice test shows that your level is 60, you might need to reconsider the preparation time and allow yourself more time. Practice tests are also suitable for pointing out your weak areas so you know which section requires special attention.  

Colleges usually accept TOEFL scores over 80. However, some of the top universities might require a score of 100 points and above. It is always advisable to check with the institutions’ requirements beforehand to ensure you are on the right track.  

DAY 3: Test Preparation Resources  

You need to decide how you will be getting ready for TOEFL. Ultimately, it depends on your goals and budget.  

If you do not have a lot of money to spend and you are pretty confident in your willpower, then the self-prep backpack which includes renting a TOEFL Study Guide Book and USB Flash Drive containing numerous TOEFL practice tests at KES 5,000 would be ideal.  

You can also choose to take up our tuition classes. Having one-on-one classes with an expert TOEFL tutor might be the best way to really work through your weak spots and help you achieve a high TOEFL score.     

DAY 4: Practice the Reading Section 

The Reading section specifically measures your ability to understand academic reading material in English. The tasks are based on actual academic texts from university-level study books. Those passages are only changed slightly, which means more accuracy in testing your reading skills. All the information you need to answer the questions is provided within the context so you don’t need to do any guessing.  

The TOEFL Reading section has three question types;  

1. Basic Information Skills Questions  

Here, you will be tested on your ability to understand the words on the passage. These questions will almost always begin “In the first/second/third paragraph……” because the answer is always stated in the passage, usually in no more than a sentence or two.  

2. Inference Skills Questions  

These questions require you to use the information in the passage to answer questions that aren’t directly addressed in the passage. 

3. Reading to Learn Questions 

These test your ability to synthesize and reorganize information from a passage. Whereas the first two types of questions cover most of the skills you need for day-day student life and homework, this third type f questions tests skills you’ll need for doing research and writing papers.  

DAY 5: Practice the Listening Section  

The Listening Section measures your ability to understand spoken English as it is used in colleges and universities.  

The recordings are based on some lecturers and class discussions.  

There are seven TOEFL Listening question types;  

  1. Detail (understanding specific pieces of factual information) 
  2. Main Idea (identifying the primary purpose of a conversation or lecture)
  3.  Inference (recognizing implied information)
  4.  Organization (recognizing the relationship between different pieces of information; almost exclusively used for lecturers)
  5.  Attitude (inferring the speaker’s attitude or opinion)
  6.  Function (understanding the reason a specific thing is said)
  7.  Categorizing (organizing ideas from the audio into categories based on their similarities and differences) 

About half of your success in TOEFL Listening relies on knowing the facts about the TOEFL Listening section: what tasks you’ll see, what kind of answers you need to give, how to pace yourself, and so on. The other half is your ability to focus while taking also taking some notes.  

DAY 6: Practice the Speaking Section 

Using a microphone, you will be asked to speak about familiar topics, and also discuss material you read about and listened to. This section measures your ability to speak English in an academic setting.  

There are four tasks in this section; 

  1. Independent task (draw an answer based on your opinion, experiences or ideas) 
  2. Integrated Speaking Tasks 2-4 (require you to combine your English-language skills – listening and speaking, or reading, reading and speaking – just as you would in or out of a classroom.  

You will get 15-30 seconds of preparation time before each response, and your response will be 45 or 60 seconds long.  

DAY 7: Practice the Writing Section  

This is the last section of the TOEFL test and it measures your ability to write English in a way that is appropriate for college and university coursework. You will read a passage, listen to a recording and then type your response.  

There are two writing tasks here;  

  1. Integrated Writing task which takes 20 minutes. You will read a short passage and listen to a short lecture, then write your responses.
  2.  Independent Writing task – this one takes 30 minutes. Here, you will write an essay based on personal experience or opinion in response to a topic.   

DAY 8: Practice Your Weak Areas 

This is a great opportunity to go over the sections where you still do not feel confident in and get some more practice questions going to help you improve your score and build your confidence.  

DAY 9: Take A Full Practice Test  

As they say, practice, practice makes perfect!  

Take a couple of full timed practice tests to simulate the real testing experience and see how well you do. For the Speaking section, grab a friend or family member you can practice with and try out different topics.  

DAY 10: Relax and Prepare for Test Day  

Avoid last minute studying which can cause panic and anxiety. Get enough rest since as we all know a tired person is less efficient.  

Spend some time going over what is expected of you on test day; what you need to carry and what is not allowed.  

Final Thoughts  

Preparing for the TOEFL can seem like a daunting task but you can take simple steps immediately to start your journey to an excellent TOEFL score. Do not overwhelm yourself. If you find that you need more time to prepare yourself, then by all means do that. We wish you all the best in your test! 


LTS 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, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

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1 comment
  1. Edith Jerop Koros
    Edith Jerop Koros
    February 12, 2023 at 1:58 pm

    Very helpful

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