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TOEFL Tip #190: Improving Gets Harder As You Go

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on February 10, 2013

Have you ever noticed a pattern when learning to do something new? At first, you make a lot of progress. After a while, however, you need to work harder and harder and you get only a little bit better. This is common when losing weight, for example. The first 10 pounds might come off quickly and with only a few changes to your diet and lifestyle, but the next 10 take longer and require more of your effort.

TOEFL study can be the same way. Maybe the score for your first diagnostic test was an 80. You study for 10 hours, working on your most frequent grammar mistakes, practicing answers to speaking prompts, and your score goes up to 95. But that’s lower than the score you need, so you study for another 10 hours. This time, you practice writing organized essays, correct even more grammar errors, learn a lot of new vocabulary, and listen to news broadcasts in English. Your score does go up, but only from 95 to 104. To get from 104 to 109 will take more than 10 additional hours of study.

The following chart shows the relationship between the time and effort you put into a task, and the quality of your results.


We know it can be frustrating to have a score that’s just a little bit lower than what you need.

To get to your goal, you need to make a number of small changes that will add up to the result that you want. Study your performance for patterns, and look for places you can adjust your strategies. Knowing that the last phase of your TOEFL studying might take the longest can help you focus your efforts, and schedule exams when you are truly ready.

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1 comment so far. Leave a comment.

  1. cora

    wrote on October 3, 2015 at 10:29 am

    How can we know we are truly ready?! Does it have a clear answer?

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