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5 Things to Keep in Mind While Preparing for TOEFL

Alla Golydbina
There are several important things you need to know to prepare for TOEFL properly and get the desired result.

The TOEFL is rapidly approaching, and studying for it has proven to be quite the undertaking. Don’t worry, that’s natural: a lot is riding on this test and you’re no doubt anxious about how to do it right. You want to ensure that you’re as prepared as you can be, but you’re left wondering about how to prepare to do the TOEFL. 

Well, there are several things to keep in mind while getting your TOEFL preparation in order. This article won’t tell you the specifics of what to study, but rather how to study. And this an important and worthwhile distinction — it’ll provide you with the foundation necessary to truly immerse yourself in TOEFL preparation. 

1. The more TOEFL practice you get, the better

This is one of those things that sounds good on paper but is rarely followed through on. Most people know how to study, and they know it requires a ton of practice, yet, they still leave everything to the last minute.

Practice is the most self-evident and overlooked facet of studying. There’s no other way to get better — if you want this as badly as you say you do, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices to ensure that you get a firm grasp of all the basic TOEFL tips and tricks. You’re going to have to put certain things on hold while spending hours a day putting in the work to get the mark you want.  

But with all that being said, it’s also important to be self-aware of both your strengths and your shortcomings. If you feel like you haven’t given TOEFL practice your all, then it might be worth postponing the test and taking it at a later date, one in which you’ll feel more confident in your level of preparation. Always prioritize preparedness

2. You must learn to manage your time wisely 

Quite frankly, schools should teach an entire course on time-management! So much of our day-to-day lives are predicated on being as productive as possible, yet the tools for doing so are not exactly clear. 

Time is constantly working against us, yet many people haven’t the slightest clue what to do about it. 

So, what do you do about it? You learn to manage it. You learn to cope with the unrelenting progress of time by using it as efficiently as possible, by optimizing every minute at your disposal. 

This can mean different things in different situations. When it comes to studying, you must have a structured schedule in place that you can adhere to. It means giving yourself the time to assess detailed and structured common errors and finding ways to fix them. 

Similarly, when it comes to the actual test, you’ll want to have the ability to adhere to the TOEFL structure and timing. The test is very time-sensitive, so you need to know how to work with that and not against it. 

3. You’ve got to become a great note-taker

Great note-taking is oftentimes the backbone of studying. It’s one of the most effective ways to retain information, cut out all the fluff, and develop a deep understanding of the things you’re learning.

So, get good at it. It’s one of your greatest tools.

Not only will you need it during TOEFL practice, but you’ll also need it when you’re deep in the midst of your test. Having the ability to break down and simplify complex texts will allow you to understand questions faster and get to the root of how you should go about answering them. 

4. Going in with the right mindset Is just as important as being prepared

People often overlook how important it is to work on things while in the right state of mind. It’s usually met with responses like “get over it!” or “just put your teeth to the grindstone and get it done!”

To be fair, these things are partly true as well: you can’t let yourself dwell in negative emotions. But to truly “get over it”, you need to understand the tactics to help you do so. 

Being calm and confident isn’t a magical superpower. It’s an untapped potential that’s ingrained in every one of us — but it’s your job to find it within yourself. Being in the right mindset involves a lot of things on your part, namely:

  • Knowing that you did everything in your power to be prepared
  • Having a firm grasp of the material
  • Being kind to yourself and not drowning in self-doubt
  • Reaffirming the idea that fear and doubt WILL NOT bring about the result you’re looking for

Ultimately, your ability to optimize the time and preparation you put into doing this test will significantly rely on how well you can adopt the right mindset for the task at hand. But that all depends on how hard you worked to prepare for the test, so be sure you have something to feel calm and confident about. 

5. It might not seem easy, but it’ll all be worthwhile

One last crucial thing to keep in mind amid TOEFL preparation is the idea that this will all be worth it in the end. One of the greatest motivating factors in a person’s life is picturing the ideal outcome of all their hard work and sacrifice. 

So, to that end, be sure to never stop thinking about what your goals are. Use these thoughts as fuel to get you through this uphill battle — it won’t be easy, but good things rarely come as a result of something easy!


Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought. These are the things you’ll want to keep in mind while preparing for your upcoming TOEFL test. Naturally, there’s far more work ahead of you, but this should give you a better sense of how to study and, most importantly, how to think about studying. 

Written by Alla Golydbina for EnglishClub June 2020
I am an education enthusiast. I know 4 languages and desire for more. Ask me anything regarding learning languages here.


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