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Jane Birkenhead, April 5 2019

3 quick steps to make the most of your TOEFL study time

I know that many of you are trying to fit TOEFL studying in around work and family life and I know exactly how hard that is. Before I became a language teacher, I was an accountant. I worked long hours during the day and then I had to study for my accountancy exams in the evenings. I did this for many years.

Now I'm a TOEFL tutor, I spend a lot of time helping my students to organize their study schedules around their other commitments. 

To study for TOEFL effectively, you don't need to spend hours and hours doing it. In fact, you shouldn't! You just have to be focused and organized when you do. Also, you don't need to plan every minute of your studying time. Some people like doing this, and that's okay, but many people don't need, or don't want, that level of planning. It's enough to say. "I'm going to make sure I study for 5 evenings this week, for 2 hours each time" and know the overall goals that you want to achieve. 

I have realised though, that there are 3 steps that make all the difference to whether you have a productive evening of TOEFL study or whether you waste your time and get frustrated. 

Here are the 3 steps you should follow to make the most of your TOEFL studying time.

Step 1: Decide the time you have available


Decide how much time you've got for studying. 

It's really okay if it's a short period of time but you need to commit to it. 

Set a timer if that helps you to stay focused.



Step 2: Decide what to study

Then decide what you are going to do. Be specific and write it down. 

For example, DON'T say, "I'm going to study reading". But DO say, "I'm going to work through 1 reading passage and answer all the questions. I'm going to check my answers and understand my errors. I'm going to make 5 new vocabulary flashcards with words from the reading passage. And then I'm going to read the entire passage out loud for extra speaking practice." That's much more effective!

Step 3: Focus

Finally, really focus on your studying for that time. Turn off your phone and log out of any annoying websites. Don't let anyone or anything distract you. 

If you're studying for more than an hour, take a short break about every 25 minutes. Stand up, walk around the room a bit - but then go back to studying.


These steps will help you do deliberate, focused practice every time you study for TOEFL.


Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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