English Idioms for TOEFL Exam

how to pronounce English correctlyIn order to score high marks on the TOEFL writing exam, understanding English idioms is necessary. Practice exams have shown idioms to be featured in both the reading and listening sections, making them important to identify and understand in order to pass the TOEFL IBT sections. The list of used idioms changes frequently, but practicing learning some of the most commonly used idioms will help better prepare you for taking the exam as part of your overall English fluency and comprehension.

To back out: To decide not to do something, to change your mind

Used in a sentence:

I have to back out of meeting up tonight; I think I’m just going to stay at home.

Finishing touches: A final adjustment of something; some effort or action that completes something

Used in a sentence:

Just adding some final touches of salt and pepper, and then dinner will be ready.

In one ear, out the other: To be heard but not remembered. Can be used to describe someone who does not listen well.

Used in a sentence:

The teacher felt everything she taught her students went in one ear and out the other, as they were not taking notes.

Chime in: To add a comment to the discussion

Used in a sentence:

If I could chime in, I’d like to suggest an idea for the new marketing campaign.

Chin up: To stay encouraged and positive in a difficult situation and to try and not be sad.

Used in a sentence:

I’m sorry you didn’t get the promotion, but keep your chin up, there’s still opportunity to advance within the company.

Quick on the draw: Ability to react quickly to a situation

Used in a sentence:

I was able to request the days off work that I needed because I was quick on the draw and added my name to the request form before my co-workers could.

Let the dust settle: To wait for a situation to become calm after an argument or problem before talking about it

Used in a sentence:

Since your argument with Susan, you may want to let the dust settle before you try to call her.

Take root: To begin to take hold or have effect.

Used in a sentence:

I’ll have a job for you once a client’s work begins to take root and requires more responsibility.

Bang for the buck: Value for the money spent, a favorable cost-to-benefit ratio.

Used in a sentence:

I usually don’t shop this much, but the sale at the department store offered such a bang for the buck on everything I bought all of this for under $100!

My two cents: Used to preface someone voicing their opinion, suggesting the value is a small amount. Can ironically be used when expressing a strong felt opinion when showing politeness and humility.

Used in a sentence:

Well, to put in my two cents, I think it’s a good idea to look at other dresses before choosing which one to wear at your engagement party.

Due to the large amount of English idioms, it’s useful to practice listening and understand when certain idioms are used. For a quick help, a 7-day free trial of Pronunciation Pro can help you work on learning the meaning of idioms in sentences, while the 16-week trial can help you master key idioms and better prepare for the TOEFL exam.