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TOEFL Tip #170: Take The Real TOEFL When You’re Ready, Not Before

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on September 21, 2012

Last week, we highlighted that ETS will only report the TOEFL scores you designate, no matter how many times you take the test. However, that does NOT mean that you should take the TOEFL exam over and over until you reach the score that you want!

We know of many students who have taken the TOEFL 10 times, or more! Think of how expensive that is. Taking the TOEFL exam in the United States costs $180 per test. If you take the exam once a month for a year, that’s over $2,100. Costs are even higher if you’re taking the TOEFL outside of the U.S.

Taking the TOEFL over and over as a method of study will not work. If all you’re doing to prepare for the exam is taking it time and again, your score will not go up because you’re not learning new strategies about HOW to take the exam. And the real TOEFL is a very expensive way to measure your progress when studying with other materials.

Instead, resources like TESTDEN.com and ETS’s practice tests can help you gauge when you’re ready to take the TOEFL exam, at a much more affordable cost. Again, we must emphasize that you should not use these tests as your study material. Instead, use them as checkpoints in your journey to the TOEFL exam. Take them once a week, AT MOST. An even better strategy is to take a practice test only when you would have scheduled a real TOEFL exam, such as when you’ve finished a set of classes with Strictly English (sign up for classes now!)

When the score on your practice test is at least 7% HIGHER than the score you need – AND you can do this on 2 consecutive practice tests – it’s time to sign up for a real TOEFL.

For the practice tests to be effective, it’s CRUCIAL that you take the WHOLE test in ONE sitting. Treat it exactly like a real exam. If you chop up the practice test into smaller time segments, then you’re not learning how you’ll really do on test day. You need the stamina – the energy and focus – to sit through the sections of the TOEFL, taking breaks only during the official times. If you don’t practice under the same conditions, your practice test score won’t reflect your genuine level of readiness.