Saturday, December 27, 2008

Taking the TOEFL test

One important requirement that appears every college application is the proof of proficiency in English and Uppsala University is not an exception to the rule. The most renowned English tests are TOEFL and IELTS and usually you can take any of those and send your results as part of your application package.

I personally decided to take the TOEFL iBT test. Why? Well, I felt a lot more confident with it. I have friends that had already taken. I also took a TOEFL course for the computer base version when I was in college. As everyone who planes to study in a foreign language I felt confident with my knowledge of English. I felt I didn’t have problems reading any kind of books, manuals, jokes, etc. I felt I could understand movies and most songs. I knew I could write emails and chat with my friends. I also felt confident with my ability to talk and have a conversation in English. But was I really ready to take the TOEFL? I didn’t feel so sure about that. Even when the minimum score required by Uppsala University wasn’t as high as the required by other universities I didn’t want to risk my seat at the Master of Computer Science just because I was too lazy to practice a little bit.

Since I was going to do my best, the first thing I did was buying a book. I check the TOEFL website for recommended books and decided to buy "The Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT with CD-ROM (Official Guide to the New Toefl Ibt)". The book turned out to be pretty good. I did all the exercises and I can say I gained a lot of confident. I can also say that I improved a lot my scores in the practice tests. In my opinion it’s not like you are going to learn English with this book, or any other book for that matter, but the book will help you to get to know the structure of the test and to develop your own answering strategy.

The other important thing about the test is the essay, horrible essay. Like I said before, I’m used to write some emails and stuff like that, but I almost never had to write something as formal as an essay. In the book I found some guidelines. I also found recommendations on the TOEFL website and some other sites but I needed more than just that. I’m very lucky because my boyfriend speaks English perfectly so all I needed was to make a pretty face and ask him for help (hopefully you can find a friend or teacher who can help you too!). When I had the time I took my laptop, picked a topic and wrote an essay. By the way, I’m not saying you have to think the essay topic; you just need to pick one from the list of essay topics available in the TOEFL site. I still think my boyfriend took too much pleasure into crossing everything out of my essay but it was worthy! As you might have guessed I also practiced for the speaking section with him.

Now I can officially say that I have a score of 109 and I got 28 in the writing section!!!! This is my first step in getting into Uppsala University and so far everything is good! I wish you all get a seat on your dream university.


  1. Hi Andreina,
    I'm a Brazilian student dreaming of attending Uppsala this fall and, while searching for tips on the application process, came accross your blog.
    Since you're the first and only person I know who's doing/done it, I was wondering if you'd be so kind to share some information about the application process, etc.
    Thank you, Priscila

  2. Hello Priscila!

    I'll be more than happy helping you! :-) I'll send you an email...


  3. Hi

    hope all is OK with you.I'm a master student here in Uppsala.I;m living with my wife and looking for nice English course for her because she will start her studies on August and need to prepare herself.she is really shy and got disappointed.I'll be appreciated if you are able to help me.keen to hear you as soon as it possible.


  4. Hello Reza,

    I'm sorry to say that I don't know about any English courses here in Uppsala. I believe that if she is already admitted on a Master program taught in English she probably has a good English level. Nevertheless, if she wants to practice before the courses start I believe that watching TV and listening to music in English is an excellent way to practice listening skills. She could also try reading books and magazines...

    I have to say that my English skills have drastically improved since I started my studies here. I believe that daily practice is the key for success :-)

    Best regards,

  5. Hello Andry,

    I'm applying through an Erasmus Mundus scholarship. What's the importance of the recommendations and the essay??

    PS: What was your TOEFL score?

    Best Regards,