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Study abroad : Applying to University

Student Spotlight: TOEFL experience

Ukrainian student Roma shares his experience of taking the TOEFL test...

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Roma Lishchenko, a student from Ukraine, shares his experience of taking the TOEFL exam on route to studying a postgraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at Aachen University in Germany.



Why did you take TOEFL exam and what was your result?

'A TOEFL certificate was one of the admission requirements for my university of choice – I have applied to the Masters programme in Biotechnology in Germany. My exam result constituted 81 points, which was sufficient for my degree.'



Were you allowed to choose between English tests, and if yes, why did you choose TOEFL?

'The University that I have applied to accepted various internationally recognized certificates (e.g. IELTS, CAE, etc). Yet, I chose TOEFL because I already had all the necessary revision materials at my disposal and a couple of friends, who have successfully passed the test before. My choice was also influenced by the fact that in Ukraine TOEFL IBT sessions are held rather frequently, in comparison with IELTS, for instance, which allowed me to choose most convenient date for taking the test.'



How long did it take you to prepare for the test?

'I had about 4 months of relatively irregular preparation sessions. Yet, everything depends on one’s initial English level – one of my friends, for example, achieved the same result as me, having spent only 3 weeks revising.'



Which methods of preparation did you use, and which of them turned out to be most effective?

'For my preparation I used both printed and online resources. Although I cannot say that one of them was more effective than the other, I found extremely useful the trial tests, which are available on-line and allow taking a mock test in TOEFL format. This helped me identify my weaknesses that I could work on additionally and learn how to manage my time most effectively.

I was also trying to avoid wasting my time during the preparation period, and while being in transport, for instance, I was always listening to BBC podcasts or reading a scientific journal in English.'



Which part of the test was most challenging for you, and how did you overcome it?

'As is well known, TOEFL includes four kinds of tasks – reading, speaking, listening and writing.


The latter seemed to be the most challenging for me, because writing an essay under time pressure doesn’t only require strong command of the language, but also additional knowledge and skills.


How did I overcome it? Having found some theory on essay writing techniques, I started the daily practice of the task. I wrote a few dozens of them, before I realized I could confidently produce a well-structured essay within the required word limit and time frames.'



How long did you wait for your results?

'My results were available online 10 days after sitting for the test.'



What advice would you give to other students, planning to take this test?

'Prepare yourself for systematic work.'



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Learn more about the TOEFL test on the official TOEFL website


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