Do you need to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam, but worry about your score?

Are you wondering how you’re ever going to learn all you need for the test-- or even where to start?

This course is a free introduction to those exams,. Along with the courses that will follow, it can help you do better on whichever test you need to take. 

The purpose of this short course is to introduce the TOEFL & IELTS exams, explain what you need to do well on them, and help you plan your next steps so you can be ready on your test date.

The first section of the course explains the structure of the exams, a little about their differences, and why practicing for them is essential, even if your English is fairly good.

Strategy 2 discusses what the examiners are looking for as they give your test a score. Both exams provide assessment criteria—the standards they use to mark your exam—but some of it is hard to understand. This lesson explains what the words mean and includes a crossword puzzle to practice this useful academic vocabulary.

Strategy 3 helps you make a study plan, and gives you some additional resources that may help, including websites that let you practice important academic vocabulary and the skills you will need for either exam. Make time to practice the words and skills you are weak in—even if just for 1/2 hour every day or two. Then you will be able to face your exam with confidence.

Learn what you need for the TOEFL & IELTS:

> ,the sections of the TOEFL & IELTS exams, what you need to do and how much time you will be allowed,

> what TOEFL & IELTS examiners are looking for when they mark your exam

> your strong and weak areas right now, and the next steps you need to take to be prepared for your test

> useful free websites to practice the academic vocabulary and skills you need

Step by Step Help

If you have difficulty understanding something or need more help or more practice materials, just ask and I will do my best to provide it. I want you to see your vocabulary-- and your confidence-- take off!

I just completely redid this course based on student feedback, to make it shorter and simpler. Check out the new lessons!

Course Curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome, & Information on the TOEFL & IELTS Exams

    • Welcome! Help me help you by taking this short survey:

    • Overview: What You Will Learn in This Course

    • Finding Resources in Your Course (How to Navigate from Lesson to Lesson)

    • Strategy 1: Understanding the IELTS & TOEFL Exams

    • Official IELTS & TOEFL info & Comparing Individual tests

  • 2

    Strategy 2 : Understanding Scoring Criteria: What the Examiners Want

    • Scoring Criteria: what the TOEFL & IELTS Examiners Are Looking for

    • Test Scoring Vocabulary Crossword & Answers

  • 3

    What's Next?

    • Strategy 3: Plan Your Study Schedule

    • Getting Ready to Take the TOEFL or IELTS

    • Share your ideas for improving this course

About the instructor


Catherine Simonton

I’ve been helping students learn English for nearly 20 years, though I've been fascinated by words and languages my whole life.

I learned how to study vocabulary while studying several languages including Latin (the source of so many roots of English words), Spanish, a little Portuguese (just reading), and some Chinese. That language study has been so enriching, as well as useful, that I want to help others get the same benefits from learning English!

While teaching adult ESL I saw the need for more reading and practice materials, especially for Intermediate students to study on their own. That’s one reason I started the EnglishHints website in 2011.

Reading a lot in English is so valuable for learning vocabulary and ways to express thoughts in English!

In fact, for almost anyone who wants to study or work using English, conversational English is not enough. That's why EnglishHints and the EnglishHints Academy include so much academic vocabulary and guided reading practice.

I hope these courses will help you become a more confident and effective English speaker!

P.S. You can reach me with any questions at

What others have been saying about this course:

5 star rating

A new way to see the English world


I had bad time in memorising lots of the words mechanically. Now that I am through with the first lesson with roots and prefixes, I can read even familiar w...

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I had bad time in memorising lots of the words mechanically. Now that I am through with the first lesson with roots and prefixes, I can read even familiar words in a new way. For example, 'exit' is not simply a combination of four letters, instead I can see it as a " it(go) + ex(out)". Also, 'courier' is not just a string of 'c-o-u-r-i-e-r', it is in fact a "er(someone) to cour( run)". In this way, these words make much more sense to me, therefore they stick to my memory forever. This introduction lesson has already been a great help. I am looking forward to see what's more to come in the following lessons! P.S. In the part of the world where IELTS test takers outnumbered TOEFL ones, people would welcome more reading practice materials with IELTS-style questions (e.g. Yes/No/Not Given; True/False/Not Given).

Read Less
3 star rating

saeed duha


You may also be interested in other EnglishHints Academy courses: Clues to the TOEFL Reading Test; Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots; or Vowel Sounds & Spellings.