Aside from being organized and identifying your target range for TOEFL, you will need to identify exactly what you need to learn. That is to say, consider which academic skills you can improve on to have the best advancement in your language and to achieve a high score. If you are weaker in listening, then be sure that you practice listening daily. If speaking is your weakness, practice recording your voice in simulated responses on a recorder or on your smartphone and listening to your voice to evaluate your speaking. If you do not know your weaknesses, you will need to first identify your strengths in English and find out your level of English according to separate language skills. In fact, you may have excellent grammar and reading skills and thus need not dedicate time to practicing reading passages; however, first you need to discover what you need to improve upon.
- Identify your level and learning needs
- By taking a practice TOEFL test, you can find out your current level. Once you have an idea of your exact level, you can pinpoint your target and lay out a strategy of how to get from Point A (current level of English) to Point B (TOEFL target score) in your exact time frame. You do not want to waste any precious time, so if you can identify the task you need to strength (e.g. listening or note-taking,) that will help you work accordingly within your study time table.
Example: Let’s say you have one week of time before you need a final score, that would be a very different study plan than if you had a 90-day study plan (if you had more time to attain a TOEFL score.)
- Read and take notes
In the previous blog, How to Study Effectively, Part 1, you learned that having a notebook or computer files of notes is useful.
- Read & make notes: When making the notes under each academic skill or sub topic, read your subject and make notes either writing comments or short summaries. (How to take notes effectively will be addressed under a different blog heading.)
- Write key ideas taking notes: in addition to reading and note-taking, practice identifying the main purpose and writing down the main idea, key points and supporting facts from your memory of listening or reading into your notes. You will retain information better later on. Be sure if you write by hand to handwrite legibly, otherwise, it will be useless to read later on when you review and you might not interpret your notes or waste your valuable study time. Save time by composing neatly.
- Highlight key points: if you are on the computer, highlight key information with colors (not too bright) in the file so that you can locate key words later on when you review. If you are using a notebook for taking notes, highlight with a colored marker (not too bright or it can distract you) to easily relocate key ideas. If you have these key ideas highlighted, it will be an outline of the information that you can review quickly at a later day.