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TOEFL Tip #105: Your Study Habits Can Affect Your TOEFL Performance

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on June 19, 2011

Today’s post is about how you study for the TOEFL. Maybe you’re using official materials from ETS, or maybe you’re using study materials such as guides by Barrons or Longman. Of course, we hope that you have already signed up for tutoring sessions with Strictly English! The materials you use to study, and the strategies you learn for each section of the exam, are very important. Unless you have good study habits, however, that information is not as effective as it could be, which could, in turn, drag down your TOEFL score by a few points or more.

Think about your typical TOEFL study session: Do you need to gather your notes, study materials, notebook, and pens from several different places? Do you try to squeeze some studying in between other tasks, while commuting to/from work or before going to bed? Do you have to clear off a table or desk to be able to work? Are there distractions when you’re studying? All of these factors detract from your study session by dividing your focus. The more often you answer “yes” to the above questions, the greater the effort you have to make just to get your study session started.

For the most effective study session, reduce distractions as much as possible. Have a dedicated place to study, and a dedicated place to keep your study materials. Keep all of your materials together. To the extent possible, limit interruptions from family members, noise, etc. Once it is time to begin studying, you should be able to sit down and immediately start work. These suggestions will help you to make the most of the time you have available.

How often and how long you work in each study session depends on your particular circumstances. There is no single correct answer, except that you should be consistent with your study times. Studying for 4 hours one week, ½ an hour the next week, then 3 hours the week after that will make it harder, not easier, for you to prepare for the TOEFL. Examine your schedule, find a regular series of times when you can study, and commit to always studying at those times. Think of your study times as a part-time job – you wouldn’t skip work just because a friend suggests getting together for coffee, and you shouldn’t skip a study session for similar, non-urgent reasons. Once you get into this habit, you will find that you can focus on your TOEFL studying much more quickly.

To get a clear sense of your current study habits, write down everything about your TOEFL studying for a week or two – what time you start, what time you finish, the conditions around you (cold/warm, noise, other distractions), and so on. Use that information to decide where you can make adjustments to your studying to increase your focus. With better study habits comes a better understanding of the material, which will serve you well when you take the TOEFL on exam day.

Categories: TOEFL Preparation

4 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. StrictlyEnglish | Blog » Schedule Time to Study for the TOEFL

    wrote on July 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

    [...] recently wrote about the importance of good study skills for success on the TOEFL exam. The self-discipline and [...]

  2. StrictlyEnglish | Blog » What Study Time is For

    wrote on July 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    [...] recent posts (here and here), we have focused on having strong study skills as a foundation for success on the TOEFL [...]

  3. StrictlyEnglish | Blog » Study WITH Distraction

    wrote on July 22, 2011 at 7:54 am

    [...] our recent post about study skills, we suggested that one key for a successful TOEFL study session was to eliminate distractions as [...]

  4. StrictlyEnglish | Blog » The Year In Review

    wrote on December 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    [...] exam. We also had a series of posts related to studying and practicing for the TOEFL. We discussed study habits, scheduling time to study, practicing with notes and with distractions, the difference between [...]

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