It is almost that time in the year when you want to start your TOEFL preparation. Generally, your deadline for submitting applications for September 2012 is January-February 2011. So, if you pace yourself you can start in September 2011 and study through November, take your test in December and submit the score in January. *Pace yourself* is the key strategy for TOEFL preparation. Rushed exam prep produces mediocre results.
1. Find a relevant textbook. Yes, I know there's lots of stuff online, but it will only work for those students who know how to look for materials and how to sort them through. Most likely, if you're just an average student you might be overwhelmed by the volumes of materials, won't know where to start and as a result not start at all! So, finding a relevant textbook is a great beginning. Here're the things you want the textbook to have:
- a CD-ROM with an Internet Based Version of the text, as well as the Listening part;
- Answer keys: there're some books without answer keys, and that might be difficult if you decided to get yourself ready for TOEFL;
- the year of publication. Let's face it: you can't prepare for the test that you want to take this year using a 10-year-old book;
- the contents: the book must be comprehensive. You can buy "the 400 must-have words for TOEFL", but then you won't be able to prepare for other aspects of the test, such as writing;
- reviews: always check the reviews before you settle to buy the book. Of course, there will be some strange reviews, but make sure that people are not just saying, "I don't like this book" (I've heard that millions of times from my students, with no reasoning behind it except: I don't wanna do the homework), rather, look for constructive criticism and make a good choice.
2. Develop accountability: Most of us are lazy people. I am. You are, too. Unless we make somebody else aware of what we are doing so they can check on us once in a while, we will become slackers, and thus won't prepare well for the test. Find a friend who is also getting ready for the test and together you'll do well.
3. Develop a schedule: It's very important to work daily to achieve your goals. Doing 1-hr prep every day is better than a 7-hr prep on Sunday. The level of retention is higher when you learn over a period of time.
4. Don't take your practice test every other day: People get excited and want to improve their scores a.s.a.p, therefore they think that taking and re-taking the test will work for them. The reality is: it won't. Taking a test without preparation for each of the aspects is like walking blindfolded. You'll bump against objects, but won't know what they are. Take a test once every two weeks, then you will develop confidence, and not generate discouragement.
5. Find a teacher: I know it can be expensive and you may not want to budget for it, but having at least a few sessions with the teacher will help you move in the right direction. In fact, your teacher will be your accountability, will help develop your schedule and guide you when you should find a textbook.
I hope these tips are helpful. Below are four more entries for TOEFL prep that I hope will serve their purpose especially when you are getting ready for the writing.
Click here to read more.