Develop academic English proficiency first and second improve your TOEFL test-taking strategies. However, not everyone follows this logic. In fact, someone sent me an email a couple of days ago. She had been taking many TOEFL practice tests. Moreover, she learned every possible test-taking strategy that she could learn. However,…..
Do not put the cart in front of the horse.
The student took the TOEFL three times.
Maki had studied for the TOEFL exam since last June. On her first try, she scored 90/120 and R=18, L=28, S=26, and W=18. Before taking her next exam, she exclusively focused her studies on the reading section. This time she scored 86/120 and R=18, L=26, S=24, and W=18. Lastly, Maki took the TOEFL exam for a third time and scored 15 on the reading and 15 on the listening section. She was horrified at those two subtotal scores. As a result, she cancelled her TOEFL scores since she needed 22 on the reading section.
Maki had a clear TOEFL study plan.
Further in her email, Maki informed me that she had
- Studied the Official Guide to the TOEFL from ETS.
- Completed all the practice tests from ETS.
- Studied “Cracking the TOEFL” and compled more practice tests.
- Completed TPO from TOEFL Bank.
- Finished many TPO practice tests from Chinese web sites.
- Learned TOEFL test-taking strategies so well she could recite them by memory.
- Watched many YouTube videos to learn TOEFL test-taking strategies.
With such a clear study plan and with some much effort, why couldn’t Maki reach her target score after three tries? She should develop English first and then improve TOEFL strategies.
There is a simple answer to Maki’s situation. She put the cart in front of the horse, as you can see exemplified in the picture in this blog post. In other words, she focused too much on the TOEFL without having acquired the academic reading and writing proficiencies beforehand. In other words, she did not develop English and then improve her TOEFL test-taking strategies. She should have improved her basic reading and writing skills first before focusing on TOEFL test-taking strategies. Watch the following YouTube video in which I explain to Maki what she needs to do in order to reach her target TOEFL reading and writing scores:
Students who follow Maki’s path, as you can learn here, end up in TOEFL Hell. It is not too late to change your path!