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by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 15, 2012
One of our Strictly English tutors recently received this message in a fortune cookie, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Not only is this a tasty ending for dinner, but it’s also a great mindset when studying for the TOEFL!
Many students think that determination and hard work will guarantee success on the TOEFL exam. To a certain extent, they’re right, of course. You need to prepare thoroughly for the exam, understand the skills necessary for each section, and practice so that you can improve any problem areas in advance. This takes time and effort.
But it’s possible to take determination and hard work too far. Memorizing long lists of vocabulary words, for example, or studying for 4 hours straight every day for months, will not exponentially increase your success. The chances are low that you’ll happen to study the precise words on the exam, and after about 2 hours of concentrated work, your brain can’t absorb more information. Marathon study sessions end up being unproductive because the time spent isn’t being used effectively. It’s easy to become discouraged when you think of studying as a chore to slog through.
So how does enthusiasm affect your TOEFL studying?
In addition to making study sessions more appealing, enthusiasm leads to curiosity and flexibility. These skills let you explore topics and make connections with what you already know. If you’re interested in what you’re doing, you’ll remember more, and will be able to apply that knowledge more effectively. You might not know much about large-scale agriculture, for example, but if you have a home garden, you can draw on that information to find areas of overlap with the topic.
On the other hand, if you approach studying for the TOEFL as if all you need to do is master a fixed set of content, you might have greater trouble dealing with unexpected material. Since there’s no way to know what will be on the exam, you cannot effectively take a content-based approach in your studying.
Be enthusiastic about your TOEFL preparation, and you’ll be looking forward to your next study session. From there, the sky’s the limit!