When To Start Preparing For The TOEFL iBT Exam
In the last post I wrote about the TOEFL iBT Exam, “The Most Important Thing To Know About The TOEFL iBT Exam“, I stated that the MOST important thing to know is the format. This is still absolutely true. However, for many people who will be taking the exam (or who are at least thinking about it), even before that point, a lot of people start making plans about when they will actually take the exam; about what date they will register for. This can be a very big mistake.
The number one reason that this is a mistake is that many of these individuals assume that The TOEFL Exam is yet another exam in the long list of exams that they have taken and will probably take again.
This, However, Could Not Be Farther From The Truth…
Most English proficiency exams – such as the FCE & CAE – test for the skills that a person already possesses. Though The TOEFL iBT Exam does take this into account, this is not actually the main focus of the exam.
The main focus of the exam is to test whether or not one will be able to actually function in a University setting by showing that one can actually learn new material, make deductions about previously unknown material, and demonstrate that he or she has grasped the overall meaning of the information that is presented in both the written and spoken form.
Anyone who is intending on taking the TOEFL iBT Exam should first get acquainted with the format (as stated in the previous post.) By doing this, the test-taker will be better able to determine if he or she needs to have additional instruction in order to achieve the score that he or she needs for whatever University or program that that person is applying to.
Having said all that, I realize that the main question has still been left un-answered…
The test-taker should not have more than a two week span of time in-between his or her last class and the day that he or she actually takes the exam.
This assessment is based on the fact that most people who are taking the exam are between an intermediate and upper-intermediate level of English (based upon the common European Framework.)
I have coached people who took the exam with less preparation time and got a decent score… But that score could have been significantly better with even a few more week’s worth of work.
What was stated above is the MOST IMPORTANT factor that one needs to think about when deciding when to start preparing for The TOEFL iBT Exam. Many people have deadlines for when the test results need to be submitted, and therefor they have an end-date. Others do not. They just know that they need to take it a some point in the future (usually within about a year.) But even for those people, there is absolutely no reason to wait.
Start right away!!!
By doing this, one is able to do most of the work on his or her own by reading blog posts like these, and scrounging the internet for good information and videos. However, I strongly recommend getting a “crash course” before the actual exam, just to make sure that you know exactly how to answer each question. This is also a good idea for people who have already achieved a very advanced level of English, but are being forced to take this exam as a requirement for some program. As stated in the last post, even with a high level of English, it is possible to do very poorly if one is not familiar with exactly HOW to answer each question.
The last thing that a person who is preparing for the TOEFL iBT Exam needs to be aware of, and keep a close eye on, is the schedule of Testing Dates and Locations. This is because, in many locations, the testing dates are completely booked up to three months in advance. So to assume that one can go to the testing center and register a week or two before the exam, is a mistake if he or she is on a deadline. Keep track of availability in your area!!! I update the availability on a regular basis, and the dates are usually posted for about three months ahead of time. But things change week-by-week. Dates can fill up quickly. On the other side of that, sometimes dates that were previously filled, can open up again – and I have even seen that sometimes new cities and even new countries are added to the list of locations. So even if your area is filled, keep checking… Or check in the neighboring cities as well.
So The Moral Of This Story Is…
Give yourself at least three months to prepare. If you do, you will have no troubles. Six months to a year is better though. Let me know if you need my help.
Good Luck! And Have An Excellent Day!