Although the TOEFL® iBT does not have a particular vocabulary section, many of the questions, answer choices, and passages contain difficult word choice. To improve your score substantially, you must increase your vocabulary. If you think studying vocabulary words is not exciting, get motivated to expand your range of words. Tell yourself it’s useful, not only on the test but also in academic life or career wise. Make learning new words fun or challenging so that you do not get bored with the process. What’s an advantage is the same words appear on the TOEFL one year after another. Get your hands on a list of frequent words on the TOEFL to get started. The more words that you recognize and understand the meaning of, the easier the test will be for you. Clearly, vocabulary is not something to avoid in your test prep time. Gear up for your success by creating a strategy how to tackle new vocabulary every day.
How to be organized about learning new vocabulary?
Get in the habit of looking up new words that you come across in reading passages or in listening to lectures. If you make a ritual of writing new word choice in a notebook specifically for that, you can use your notes to review sets of new words acquired so that you retain the information over the long run. If you see or hear a word that you don’t know, it’s probably a valuable word to jot down in your vocabulary journal.
In addition, keep a growing vocabulary list that you can refer to in your study sessions. To begin with, look the new word up online in an online dictionary or use a dictionary app and make a flashcard with the word on the front, the meaning on the back with synonyms and an example in context. Carry these index cards around in your pocket to study during breaks during the day. This is just a start, but rote memorization is not enough. As a language learner, you will benefit if you absorb the words in phrases and expand on them in exercises, so tools such as mnemonics may be useful as an aid. If you keep a routine of expanding your English vocabulary day to day, it will be a valuable asset for communication in your career and beyond.
Of course, flashcards are tools to learn new words, but they are not enough just by themselves so use a valuable smartphone app such as the fun and memory-efficient app Study Blue, which makes remembering your new words much easier.
You must apply those new words in context. Otherwise, you may not recall the new words. So, when you memorize any new words, consider how that word choice typically appears in a phrase or sentence.
- Is the context more often written or spoken?
- Is the word choice used in only one way?
- Is the context where the word is used formal or casual?
The next step is trying to use your new word(s) in a few typical phrases or sentences in context. For fluency, using your word in context has to come naturally, so by practicing how to put the new words in context, it will become second nature.
If you learned something new from this post, check out Accurate Content on the Integrated TOEFL Writing for how to target your writing content.