Your TOEFL exam is coming up. Nervous breakdowns and sweaty nightmares are part of the process, people. But we are here to take some stress away. It is all about preparing yourself in the right way. So, in this blog we will tell you in four steps how you can be as prepared as possible for the exam that can (and will) change your life, without giving you anxiety attacks. Let’s dive into the secrets of the TOEFL test and how to prepare yourself.
1. Find out if your school accepts TOEFL scores
The very first thing to find out is if the university, grad school or other institution that you want to apply to is accepting your TOEFL scores. In other words: is the TOEFL test what you need to get into the school of your dreams?
The easiest thing to do is to get in contact with the institution which you attend to apply to. They are more than willing to explain the requirements and process to you. Just make sure you know if the TOEFL exam is what you need. Preparing yourself like this can prevent you from spending time (and money!) on a test that won’t help you in any way.
2. Pick your TOEFL test date and location
Nothing worse than a late-night study session in the last days before your exam, right? So, make sure that won’t happen and start planning right away.
First, start with choosing your test date. The most important consideration for choosing a test date is your deadlines. The school you want to apply to has deadlines, and therefore, so do you. Take the date from your earliest admissions application or other deadline. Then, plan your TOEFL exam 2 or 3 months before this deadline. It sounds like much time, but within this timeframe there is plenty of time for score reporting and, if needed, retesting.
Second, choose a location where you feel comfortable enough to make this test. This can be in the comfort of your home or at one of the many testing locations in over 165 countries. Here you can find a TOEFL test center near your hometown.
3. Make a study plan (and stick to it!)
When you picked your test date, it is time to start making a study plan. A study plan can help you in many ways. It will save you much time, because you know exactly when and what to study. And it will give you peace of mind. ETS, the Educational Testing Service (mother of the TOEFL test), has an amazing TOEFL Test Prep Planner that will help you understand how to prepare for the test effectively and to help you build the English skills you need to succeed. It also contains Test Day Tips and sample questions that you can expect in your test.
A study plan contains deadlines and information about what you have to learn before the exam date. Take your time to prepare yourself well. Let’s say we start studying 8 weeks before the TOEFL exam. Below you will find an example of a study plan.
In the first week you start with determining your target scores. What scores do you want to get or, even more important, what scores does your school want you to get? In the same week you also make yourself familiar with the TOEFL test and already try a practice test.
Choose one of the four sections that you will study first. This can, for example, be the section that you think you will have difficulties with. Let’s say we start with the Speaking section. Important is to learn about the speaking section, view and experience sample speaking tasks and practice your own speaking skills.
Choose another section that you will study this week and make it your own. For example, we choose the Reading section now. Learn about the reading section, view and experience samples and practice your reading skills.
Week 4 and 5
These two weeks are the same as week 2 and 3, but with different sections. For example, you can study the Listening section in week 4 and the Writing section is week 5.
This week is all about taking practice tests. You can find them all over the internet. Make sure you find one that comes from official sources. You will take this practice test to measure your progress. This will give you insights about which section you know best and which section you will meet for another study date. Also, practice your speaking skills in this week. Speaking is an important part of the exam and maybe even the hardest section. So, prepare yourself as best as you can!
Only 2 weeks to go. We can understand you’re getting a little nervous already. But don’t be. Stick to your study plan! Take another complete practice test to establish your readiness for test day. If you find some difficulties, attack them with more study. Don’t forget to take your rest too!
Last week before test day. What an accomplishment. This week you take another, and your last, practice test. After, you’ll make sure that you know everything about test day. You will also gather the documents that you’ll need for test day, such as your photo identification and your registration confirmation.
4. Find the right study materials
Your study plan is foolproof, so let’s get the studying started. To make studying as easy as possible, it is important to read the right study materials. Good TOEFL guides, books, summaries and notes are not always easy to find. Official TOEFL websites (such as ‘ETS’ or ‘TOEFLgoanywhere’ can help you out with official documents, practice tests and resources. But of course, the internet is bigger than that. Find whatever documents, summaries or notes you need. Disclaimer: before you buy something form the internet, make sure it is what you need and that it has good quality.
If you are looking for TOEFL summaries, notes or guides, we can help you too! Our platform has thousands of TOEFL documents that are written by tutors or students who already took the TOEFL test. Head over to our seller’s TOEFL collection and let’s get this study plan going!