By this point, you have a clear idea of what to expect in each section of the test and how to handle it. But this is only half the work done—without proper planning and preparation, all the strategies you have learned may well go to waste. With 90 days in hand, you can afford the luxury of focusing on quality.
You can prepare for each section at a pace comfortable for you. Starting your preparations early is especially useful when you cannot devote a lot of time, due to the demands of your job or other studies.
Starting early gives you three advantages:
- regular practice improves your speed and familiarity with the test;
- you can pay adequate attention to rectifying your mistakes, and
- you will have time to work further on improving your already strong areas.
If you want to succeed in TOEFL, you have to get as much practice as you can. For free TOEFL practice questions and tests, take a look at the “TOEFL iBT Interactive Sampler”, “TOEFL iBT Test Questions” and “TOEFL iBT Quick Prep” packages that are provided on the official TOEFL website, www.ets.org.
Most successful candidates also recommend you buy some tests designed by reputed agencies such as ETS. You can buy the “Official Guide to the TOEFL,” “Official TOEFL iBT Tests with Audio,” and “TOEFL Practice Online” modules. While these are not free, they offer the closest experience to real test situations, with audio clippings and computer-based interface.
Plan Your Study
How much time do you need to study every week? It is better to do a little work every day than to leave it all for the weekend. While a daily session of about two hours is advisable, you can comfortably start off with shorter 45–minute sessions and taking a one-day break during the week. You should divide your 90-day preparation period into three stages, each period, being a month long.
Over the course of these three months, you will gradually develop your relevant skills and by the end, you will be a master at each of the four sections of the TOEFL test.
This period will cover your first four weeks of preparation. In this time, you will spend up to a week of study time on each of the sections, Reading, Speaking, Listening, and Writing. This is the stage where you lay the foundations for your process of learning a new language. Don’t try and rush through the basics.
From week 5 till week 8, continue doing one section per week. But now, you must move from just studying to practicing. Start taking, at least, two section tests every week, for instance, on Wednesdays and Fridays. Also, try to have a two-hour session on at least one day every week, preferably Thursdays. Finally, at the end of week 6 and week 8 (Saturdays), you should attempt a full-length practice test from the PBT set. Try and increase the complexity of your study material—read more difficult passages, speak for longer, and start listening to academic lectures on YouTube.
The period from week 9 to week 11—is the most intensive of the three. You should frequently put yourself through sample tests so as to become familiar with the testing environment and you need to integrate your knowledge with extended periods of concentration.
In this period, you should continue doing more section tests, but at intermediate and advanced levels. In week 10 and 11, try and extend your study sessions to a maximum of 2 hours 30 minutes, so that you can start preparing for the long sessions you will have to sit through on the day of the test. Finally, on each Saturday for these three weeks, you must attempt a full-length test.
Apart from regular practice, it is important also to undertake self-evaluation. After a few full-length tests, critically study the results and identify strong and weak areas. This section will give a rough guide to interpreting your marks.
For the Reading section, a mark above 22 is considered good, while anything below 14 requires serious attention. The key to improvement in this section is to pay attention to the concepts and
structure of argument in the passages. Start with articles of general interest and graduate to more technical, academic passages as your mark improves.
For the Listening section, a mark between 15 and 21 is considered average. To improve your marks in this section, work on your note-taking skills. Strike a balance between detail and selective focus. Your notes are the building blocks on which you can develop a summary of the conversation. The difference between a good and a poor mark often depends on the effort you put into making notes.
In the Speaking section, a mark above 22 is considered to be very good. If your mark is below 12, you should pay attention to impromptu speaking. Try speaking at length first about familiar topics and gradually move on to speaking for longer intervals about more difficult academic subjects.
In the writing section, give equal attention to the integrated and independent tasks. If you are consistently getting a self-assessment mark of less than 14, the problem can usually be traced to difficulties in expression. Take every opportunity to write a brief response to something you may have read, seen or heard. Pay close attention to sentence construction, grammar, and spellings—marks are deducted for such mistakes.
Modify as Required
The schedule detailed in this article is meant to work as a rough guide for you to follow when planning your exam preparation. It gives you a broad idea of how to organize your work but leaves it flexible enough for you to change for your convenience. Through constant practice and self evaluation, you will get a better idea of how you can tweak some aspects of this program to suit your individual requirements. So, be disciplined, be determined and be creative! TOEFL success is just days away.
You may also read:
- Schedule Planning in TOEFL – A Brief Guide
- Tips for Success in your TOEFL Writing Exam
- Tips for Success in your TOEFL Speaking Exam
- Tips for Success in your TOEFL Listening Exam
- Tips for Success in your TOEFL Reading Exam
- Top 6 TOEFL Exam Preparation Tips: Key To Success
- Getting Started To Learn IELTS or TOEFL