Do you have TOEFL anxiety?

Do you have TOEFL anxiety? Many students need a TOEFL score for universIty admissions. Moreover, others need TOEFL scores for their jobs. In either case, these students are under a lot of pressure to improve their English.

This enormous pressure can trigger anxiety in some TOEFLers.

Do you have TOEFL anxiety?













Meet Hannah, who had anxiety before taking the TOEFL exam.

Hannah needed to score over 100 on the TOEFL exam. In addition,  she needed a score of 26 on the speaking section. Some of her practice tests were scoring close to her target score. However, she had to practice several times before she felt she had a good delivery, controlled language use, and a developed and coherent organization. Here is the email she sent me below:

Hi Michael, I haven’t sent my sample response for a while and that is because I’m being consumed by my anxiety because my exam is getting near. I really have to pass this exam this month. The pressure is too much and I keep getting frustrated that I cant get it right in the first try of answering.
Here  are my video comments to her:

As you can see in the video, Hannah had been doing very well with her TOEFL speaking practice. in fact, she was consistently scoring 26+ points on her TOEFL speaking practice tests. Nevertheless, her anxiety  was starting to interfere with her studies. As a result, she stopped sending me her speaking practice tests. However, after my video comments, she got back on track by sending me daily practice tests for me to provide feedback on.

How do I eliminate my worries about the TOEFL exam?

Having some nervousness before taking a hi-stakes exam like the TOEFL is normal.  However, if your TOEFL anxiety cripples you so that you can do longer study, then you had better get control of it quickly.  Here are things that you can do to reduce your TOEFL anxiety:

  • Make sure you are not trying to study the TOEFL exam for than 2-4 hours a day. Do not let the TOEFL dominate your life.
  • Find other helpful practice like watching movies, reading novels, and talking with native speakers as additional stimulating forms of English Study.
  • Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Intensive academic English study is mentally challenging, and this rigorous study also fatigues the body and the brain. Therefore, sleeping helps rejuvenate the brain so that you will have more productive study sessions in subsequent days.
  • Find time to engage in exercise for at least 45 to 60 minutes a day. If possible, exercise outdoors so that you can get some sunlight, breathe fresh air, and see the natural landscapes around you. Brisk walking, playing basketball, running, hiking, swimming, and biking can all help take your mind off of your TOEFL exam, thereby reducing anxiety.
  • Talk to your friends and family daily; let them know about your anxiety so that they can support you.
  • Preparation is key to reducing anxiety. The more you practice your TOEFL speaking, the more confident you will become.  In addition, the more confidence you have, the less anxiety you will feel.

Special note: Extreme anxiety can be a mental health disorder that often occurs hand in hand with depression. If you believe that your anxiety is preventing you from carrying out your normal daily tasks, you should consult a medical doctor. The medical professional can properly diagnose and thus prescribe medications to control your anxiety.

What happened to Hannah, who was so worried about taking her TOEFL exam?

Hannah worried a lot before her upcoming TOEFL exam. However, her friends and I were able to boost her confidence so that she could reduce her anxiety.  Then test day came, and she performed spectacularly.  In fact, she improved her overall TOEFL score from 104 to 108. Moreover, she improved her speaking score from 22 to 29 pts. In the below video, you can see the email that she sent me plus my video comments about her improvements.


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