Fortunately, with a commitment to studying and working hard, there is no reason why you should not do well on this exam. Nevertheless, when it comes to the TOEFL, there are several common missteps that many people make during the prep process:
1. Assuming that the TOEFL is a general study of the English language
Like other standardized tests, the TOEFL has a particular structure, and you will be asked certain types of questions about specific material. The exam is designed in this way because colleges and universities are less interested in how well you speak conversational English than they are in your ability to translate quickly and respond thoughtfully.
Rather than assuming that your grasp of English is sufficient to score well, take the time to review the test ahead of your exam date in order to review the types of questions that will be asked. This will allow you to consider how to best answer questions on test day—and how to prepare now.
2. Disregarding the structure of the exam
The TOEFL will test you on certain abilities, such as reading, speaking, and writing. As mentioned above, you will need to know specific pieces of information—and, conversely, there are certain things that you will not need to know. By reviewing the exam in advance, you will be able to gauge your strengths and weaknesses, which will allow you to better strategize and focus your attention on the specific areas that need it most.
3. Forgetting that all areas of the test are equally important
English is a challenging language because of the many nuances and oddities that can complicate becoming adept. It is thus critically important that as you study for the TOEFL, you keep in mind that there are four sections. Instead of being over-prepared for one section and woefully under-prepared for another, try to split your study time evenly between each area.
4. Ignoring pronunciation
It can be very easy to become distracted by the definitions of words and how they are commonly used, and to entirely forget about their pronunciation. Given that some English words utilize identical spelling but different pronunciation, this is one area that you do not want to ignore. In addition, the Speaking section of the exam moves quickly, and you might not have time to stop and consider each task at length before you respond. Therefore, it is in your best interest to be constantly mindful of your pronunciation as you review for the TOEFL.
5. Failing to prioritize
Although the article previously stressed the importance of dividing your time between sections, you should also prioritize any gaps in your abilities. For example, if you feel that you are strong in reading, but your writing skills need work, make sure to particularly focus on writing.
Earning a high TOEFL score may understandably be very important to you, but reviewing non-stop will not help you achieve your goal. Over-studying can even affect your test-day performance. Rather than spend all of your waking hours perusing study guides and flashcards, focus on balancing memorization and day-to-day experience.
For example, try to study with friends who can help you with your verbal skills and pronunciation. You can also set study limits for yourself each day to ensure that you are not attempting to force too much information into your head.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.