- Know the test before you go.
A lot of students take the test without the information they need. For instance, some of my students do not even know that there are four speaking tasks and two writing tasks. Obviously, this negatively affects their score in a big way! You should read The Official TOEFL Guide published by ETS. The sixth edition is the newest version.
2. Practice with old tests.
I recently read a test preparation book that said the best way to get ready for a test is to take OLD tests. In fact, this book said that one hour of taking an old test was worth two hours of studying other material. So find old tests and take them! There are many online.
3. Practice speaking on a wide range of topics.
Many test-takers report to me that they aren’t ready for question one. It is understandable; the range of topics is enormous! So, the best way to get ready is to PRACTICE with a huge range of topics. Do NOT just assume the questions will be about education, vacations, or work. ETS can ask you about (almost) anything. They avoid controversial subjects, but any other subject is possible. Reach out to me if you have questions about what topics they may ask you to speak about. Get a list of topics and PRACTICE.
4. Become a faster typist.
It might not sound important, but remember, for the new TOEFL you only have ten minutes to read AND to type your answer. If you type faster, you can answer faster. There are hundreds of free online typing websites you can use.
5. Take good notes.
A lot of test-takers choose not to take notes, and if that works for you personally, I have no problem with it. However, for most test-takers, good notes are essential. I have two videos about note taking you can watch here:
6. Be reasonable about how long it takes to get ready for the TOEFL test.
A lot of test-takers want to be ready to take the test in two or three weeks from the time they begin studying. This is not realistic because it’s a language test. When you prepare for a test in college, you know which chapters or units to study. The TOEFL is a comprehensive test that checks your skills in four areas: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. You need to allow adequate time to prepare. See my blog post on how long you should prepare for this test here:
7. Get help.
Do not hesitate to contact a tutor and take lessons for the TOEFL test. There is artificial intelligence that you can use these days, but it cannot assess your topic development or give you constructive feedback in the way a professional tutor can. Make sure the tutor has a background in TOEFL. In my view, a TOEFL tutor should have at least two years of teaching ONLY TOEFL. For instance, I have been teaching TOEFL for 15 years and I would not even say that I know everything about the test. Experience is CRUCIAL. A cheap tutor is not usually a great tutor. Experienced tutors do expect to be compensated for their time. Ask questions about a tutor’s background before you hire him or her, and be careful of scams.
8. Study grammar and increase your vocabulary.
If you do not have a strong grasp of vocabulary, you will not get a good score on the reading section. If you do not have good grammar, you will do poorly on the speaking and writing sections. You CANNOT ignore grammar. I give students who take lessons with me two grammar books for this reason.
9. Commit to a study plan.
Nobody can make a study plan for you, because only YOU know how much time you can devote to studying for the TOEFL test. However, once you have a plan, you need to commit to it. You can find out more at this blog post:
10. Learn how to manage test anxiety.
One of the most common concerns of TOEFL students is the anxiety they feel during the exam. They feel that it affects their score very negatively, and I agree! You must learn how to manage it during the exam. Here is a blog post that talks about it in detail:
Thanks for reading, and good luck on your TOEFL test.
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