Is TOEFL different than other standardized tests? The answer is yes and no. TOEFL is different regarding the language competency for spoken English, but is not different than other standardized tests assessing language skills for competencies in reading, comprehension, vocabulary and writing. TOEFL, as any other standardized test, observes the same guidelines of standardized tests in terms of test taking procedures and format.
However, the big difference is that the TOEFL may feel hard to a TOEFL candidate who speaks English as a second language, and mastering the language takes time and effort. This is to say that the difficulty lies not in the TOEFL test itself but rather in the English language the TOEFL candidate needs to master, and master it to the extend to earn the score the candidate needs. Therefore, the worry TOEFL candidates experience about how to take the test is unnecessary, but what is necessary is that time, effort, and effective study techniques to improve English language skills, such as the ones below:
- Read materials of interest to you. Do you have a hobby? Do you enjoy learning about animals or plants, movies, photography, fashion or politics? Then read about these subjects.
- Write every day on matters you care about. Did you read anything today on your hobby or a subject of interest? Write about it. Don’t worry about how much you write.
- Edit your writing to the best of your ability and then ask for help in communities of mutual interest, such as animal lovers, poetry lovers, and etc.
- Rewrite your piece until you feel that it is improved. When editing your piece, check up on grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction.
- Learn the vocabulary of what you’ve read or listened. Use a thesaurus to understand better the differences of similar words. Listen up to those who speak English well. Never memorize words alone without a context.
- Sign up with forums where you will find people of common interests rather than with ones where ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers interact only.
- If you are shy about making mistakes when you speak, learn how to overcome it (how to improve spoken English).
- Every week once or twice, review TOEFL test books on reading, comprehension, grammar, sentence construction and spoken English
- Read about standardized test taking strategies. Improve your own test taking skills by doing the test samples from TOEFL test preparation books.
- Do the test questions on one section first without a timer, then with the timer on another section. Record your progress. With the timer on if you get nervous, bear with it and will get used to it after a while.
- Devote certain times of the day to your study and stick to your schedule.
- Have a buddy to consult with. This person can be a friend, teacher or cyber-friend sharing your TOEFL interest.