Planning your TOEFL® Test Prep: Where to Start and What To Askzinkerz
Although tests like the TOEFL® Test or GRE are standardized, your plans to prepare for one of these tests can’t be. Many individual factors come into play when mapping out a program of study and practice. The following are some of the points to consider as you determine your goals for the TOEFL test and how to get there.
Plan Ahead For TOEFL
When should you register for the TOEFL exam? Since most people are taking the TOEFL IBT, or internet based test, there are a number of test sites and test dates available throughout the year.
The TOEFL PBT, or paper based test is being phased out, and is only available in places without internet access, on a very limited schedule.
For a list of dates and sites see here. Registering early will ensure getting the date and location you need.
When should you take the TOEFL test? This is one of the key questions to determine your overall test preparation strategy and schedule. It is best to choose a date to give yourself as much time to study as possible. However, when using the test for university acceptance requirements, you’ll have to balance that with application deadlines and the time it takes for scores to get to the universities.
In case you are planning to use scores for future applications, also keep in mind that scores are only valid for two years. Check with individual institutions about application due dates and scores submissions. TOEFL test results are mailed out within two weeks of taking the test, but the reports can take time to reach their final destination.
If sent within the US you can expect an average 7–10 days for mail time, although you’ll need to allow 4–6 weeks to reach schools outside the United States.
Your test date will be a key factor in mapping out your TOEFL prep plans, but be sure to leave time as necessary for this step. No use going through all this work if the results aren’t there in time to be considered with your application!
Know Your TOEFL Goals
What score are you aiming for? Score requirements vary from school to school and between different departments within a school. Some schools list a minimum requirement for the test, or even for each of the four sections.
All of this information and more should be available on a school’s web page for international students. When finding out this information also be on the look out for the average score of accepted students, if available.
This will help determine what applicants have actually been accepted with, especially if a particular school’s required score seems particularly low. There also may be the possibility of conditional acceptance if your scores aren’t as high as you’d like.
This means a student will be accepted on the condition that they continue working on their English or possibly retake the TOEFL after arrival. If necessary email the school to see if they have a similar policy, or look into smaller public colleges or universities who may allow for this type of admission.
How far are you from that score and what do you need to do to get there? If you already have an idea of your TOEFL score from either previous test experience or taking TOEFL practice exams, you may want or need to raise your score by a number of points overall, or perhaps a few points for a specific section.
Depending on your experience and knowledge it may be test format and familiarity that will help raise your scores or specific topics on various portions of the test.
These factors should be considered most strongly when determining how to break up your study plan into the skills and knowledge that need to be developed, and how much time to be dedicated to each area when using TOEFL practice tests and questions.
Exploring these questions and others related to your specific needs and goals will be an important step in achieving the highest score you can on the TOEFL exam.
Tell us below in the comment box if you are one of those who plan quickly or if you are one of those who have a hard time planning.