Students’ Difficulties in Coping with TOEFL Test: A Case Study in a Postgraduate English Program of a State University in Mataram

I Gede Perdana Putra Narayana, Henny Soepriyanti


TOEFL test is one type of English testing system to measure test takers’ proficiency in English grammar and structures as well as academic skills such as listening and reading. Within Indonesian higher education context, postgraduate English department students are required to have a minimum TOEFL score of 500 in order to be able to pass the thesis exam or to graduate. As English is a foreign language to students, having a high TOEFL score would be challenging for them.  This study aims to identify and describe the difficulties faced by students of a postgraduate English department in a government university in West Nusa Tenggara.  This study employed a survey research design. Questionnaires and interviews were used for the data collection. Quantitative and qualitative analysis were used as the basis of data analysis.  Sixteen (16) students in their first semester in the academic year 2022/2023 were involved as the participants of the study. The findings revealed that the students have difficulty in all three sections: listening, structure and reading. In listening they found difficulties in several aspects including negative expressions, idiomatic expressions and long conversations. In structure, their problems were in terms of having lack of grammar understanding such as parallel structure, subject-verb agreement, and error recognition. In reading, the students were still struggling with unknown vocabulary, implicit meaning, and time management. This study suggests that students should develop strategies to be successful in The TOEFL test.


TOEFL Test; Difficulties; Postgraduate Students; Strategies

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