How Not to Get Your Top TOEFL Score (Plus the Real Secret to Success on the Exam)!

MAY, 2020


Scammers and criminals who try to use your anxiety about the TOEFL exam to lure you into getting involved in a crime could cost you your visa status and your dreams of going to college in the US..

There are plenty of ways to mess up on the TOEFL exam. Some people underestimate how challenging it can be and don’t really study much before going into the exam. Other students get so anxious about the test that they feel as if they will forget everything they’ve studied as they stare at the computer screen on test day. All international students know the critical importance of a great TOEFL score as a start into admission at the best universities, and so a top score on the test may seem like it’s worth anything to achieve.

But a group of scam artists in California who offered to take TOEFL exams for other students and used identity fraud in the process are facing serious consequences for their crimes. Such schemes are likely to get both the scam artists and the students who were trying to cheat into a lot of trouble.

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“As this case shows, we will move aggressively to identify and prosecute those who engage in fraud and corrupt our immigration system for profit.” Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge for Los Angeles HSI.  

Pop quiz challenge:
Here’s proof that even native English speakers who create websites get it wrong sometimes. Can you identify a word error in the following quote from the DHS website?

“Prospective international students should be weary of individuals who offer to take the TOEFL exam on their behalf, as it could violate the status of their student visa.”


For a bonus, identify both of the words that are very similar to the one that is used incorrectly (each requiring only one changed letter to make the new word), either of which would correct the sentence without changing the meaning.

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Photograph by Lorem Ipsum via Unsplash

The TOEFL test is really nothing more than a warm-up for the challenges that you will face in college. When you take on the test with your best effort, you show to yourself and the school that you are ready for the rigors of higher education in English.
The best weapon for slaying the TOEFL is to be as prepared as possible before you go into the test. A semester of TOEFL Prep at US Ling will give you the tips and techniques that you’ll need to do your best on the test.
Once you have studied and gained the skills you’ll need to succeed on the TOEFL and beyond, you’ll need to build up your levels of exam-stamina. Similar to running a marathon or playing a full 90 minute, highly competitive football match, the five hours you’ll spend in the exam will challenge your mental toughness and ability to stay focused despite weariness.
What are your best techniques and tips to stay mentally focused and fully concentrated on doing your very best even when you are feeling exhausted or stressed?