Jane Birkenhead, June 3 2022

Practice Effectively for TOEFL

If your TOEFL scores are stuck...
If you've done all the TPO questions...
If you're worried about missing your deadline...
...then this post is for you.

Let’s talk about how to PRACTICE EFFECTIVELY for TOEFL. 

I think everyone agrees that it’s important to practice for TOEFL. But HOW you practice is really important too. TOEFL is a skills based exam. You need to show proficiency in those skills to get an advanced score. But practicing skills is not the same as memorizing and cramming. 

To practice skills, you need to break down an overall task and practice the individual parts separately. You need to do this over and over again so that you can improve. It’s just how a musician or an athlete gets really good at what they do. Think about the hours of practice that professional athletes commit to. All those technical practices, sessions in the gym and specific coaching on the tiniest of details help them to develop the individual skills they need for their sport. Then they put those individual skills together to become performance ready.

Practicing effectively for TOEFL is similar to the way a musician or an athlete practices. You need to break down the language skills needed, practice them individually and build those skills by repeatedly practicing them. Then you need to put the individual skills together to become exam ready.

But too many TOEFL students focus ONLY on exam style practice. If you keep answering past exam questions and don’t spend time building skills, then you won’t improve. You’ll just practice at your current level. I’ve seen this a lot when students have deadlines approaching. Their sense of panic and urgency increases, because of the deadline, and they think the solution is to spend hours practicing exam style questions. But it’s not.

It’s essential to focus on the individual skills that you’re missing and practice those separately. It’s those skills that will help you to improve and to reach your target scores. You’ll also make much faster progress if you focus on skills building practice.

And this is how specialized teachers can help you. We know there are lots of places where you can get free questions, scores for reading and listening, and estimated scores for speaking and writing. But these places won’t give you structured skills building practice with feedback and suggestions about how to improve. 

So invest in skills building practice and conquer TOEFL sooner.

Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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