How I scored 85 points on the TOEFL ibT

If you know what the TOEFL ibT is, then you probably had to take it.
For those of you who don't know what the TOEFL, here is a quick explanation.

If you are a student and you want to study in an English-speaking country, you have to take the TOEFL ibT (TOEFL internet based Test). This test measures your ability to communicate in an academic environment.

It is not optional, it is necessary. Most Universities and Colleges here in the USA require a score of at least 80-100. Some Universities even require lower scores like 70 or even 61. The University I want to attend requires 61.

The TOEFL test has 4 tasks: reading, listening, speaking and writing.
In each section, you can score 30 points. Makes 120 points total.

The test is about 4 hours long with a 10-minute break between the first 2 tasks and the last two tasks.

The TOEFL test is not cheap. My husband paid $ 190. Even more pressure to get a good score.

Now I highly recommend to plan and study in advance. The test is pretty hard because you don't have a lot of time to answer questions, read or write. Every task is timed. I didn't know much about the TOEFL before I booked the appointment. I had 2 weeks preparation time, which wasn't enough, in my opinion.

Before I started studying, we went to Barnes & Noble and bought a book with 2 CD's.
There are a lot of good tips and tricks in there. But I wasn't completely satisfied. A book with more tests would have been better. However, it was very helpful and gave me a good feeling of what might be helpful for me and what not. If you want to check it out, click on the link below (link to amazon).

As I mentioned earlier, I started studying 2 weeks before the test. At first I thought that this was going to be a breeze. Oh boy, I was wrong. The more time passed, the more I realized that I needed more than 2 weeks. And it doesn't necessarily mean that your English is bad and whatnot. No, trust me when I say: the TOEFL can be mastered with a score higher than 100 (if requested by the University you want to attend). But even if your score is lower than 100, so what?!

You see, there is no good or bad TOEFL score. It all depends on the requirements of the Universities.
My online University requires a score of 61. My TOEFL score is 85. See? I can definitely enroll now.
If your school wants you to score 90 and your acutal TOEFL score is 95, congratulations, you made it! And if you are still not satisfied with your score, you can still retake the test and maybe get a better score. But be aware: you have to pay the full amount again. And you can always score lower than before. If you don't want that to happen, make sure to plan well in advance and take the test if you feel ready.

Now, how did I score 85/120? 

To be honest, my gut feeling wasn't very good at the end of the test. The clock was ticking and the speaking part was the hardest. I really thought I had to retake the test and was mentally preparing for the worst.

Like I said before, all I used for the "Outsmart the TOEFL" book and some Youtube videos. There are a lot of good videos out there. I especially focused on the videos that explain how to take notes if you have to listen and take notes simultaneously.

What worked best for me was to repeat a lot of things.
To be quite honest, I didn't really study for the speaking part, because it felt just stupid, talking to the computer. And who would correct me if my answers were wrong? In the end I think, I could have scored better in the speaking section, if there would have been more time.

I didn't practise for the writing section either. I knew how to write essays, so that wasn't really the problem. The only thing that I didn't like probably guessed it...the time.

All in all I would say that it depends on how you study and how often. If you don't study, you might get a lower score (but this could also happen if you study regulary).

To summarize what you need to do:

  • you should plan to study at least 4-6 months before you take the test (depending on your English-level)
  • find as many ressources as possible (books, name it)
  • don't take the test if you don't feel ready (you can reschedule but have to pay for it)
  • repeat, repeat, repeat!
  • time yourself while you take tests at home! Very important!
  • don't panic..if you are nervous, you will stutter and maybe even forgot what to say/to do
  • and last but not least: don't stress yourself over the score. It is not important to score the best score. It is important to get a score a bit higher than what your dream University/College requires! Your academic English will improve over time anyway
If you don't know what the TOEFL requirements for yourUniversity are, click the link below. You'll find a list of Universities here in the USA and their requirements. Some Universities even have requirements for the 4 sections (e.g in all four sections of the TOEFL ibT you have to have at least 20 points).

I really hope that this post was helpful for you! If you have any questions about the TOEFL ibT, don't hesitate to ask me, I'll be glad to help you answer your questions.


  1. Great Article. Thank you for sharing! Really an awesome post for every one.

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