The TOEFL can be rather challenging. It isn’t just the test itself that makes many anxious. The test preparation can also sometimes become very stressful.

Sure, we have the support of TOEFL study guides, and there are many sites offering online mock preparation tests. The question remains, is this really enough?

It is important to understand that when studying for a test, there is more that comes into play than just your ability to absorb and comprehend.

You want to be in good form, both while preparing and while appearing for your test.

This includes being fresh, well-rested, alert and mentally well! A little organization can take care of a lot of that?

Over the course of this blog, were are going to highlight exactly what you need to get organized. We share tips on how to design the perfect study plan.


These include things you need to get into gear. In other words, things you want to have sorted before finalizing your plan.

Start Early

They say it is the early bird that catches the worm.

This does not mean you have to be the first person to enter the exam hall. It means you need to put your study plan together well before your actual test dates.

We’re talking a minimum of three months here. This being said, even the minimum will vary depending on your level of skill. Gauge how much time you need to get where you want and work accordingly.

Procure Material

Get hold of whatever reference material you need. These could be study guides, workbooks, past year or mock tests and text books. Research the material you might need and make sure you have it with you and ready before you hit the books!

Core Plan

Here is the actual planning bit. If you work within these guidelines, it is most likely going to benefit your overall performance.

Understand what you want

Why do you wish to take the TOEFL? Is it for a job? A college application? Immigration maybe?

Knowing why you need to take the test will also give you a sense of the score you want to be working towards.

Once you have a tangible target score to work towards, you can get into planning what you’re going to need to get there.

Time is of the essence

You want to take into account two things with regard to time:

  • One; how much time you have before the actual test.
  • Two; what your current level and pace is.

The latter will help you get a clearer idea on how much time you’re going to need. When you are clear on this, schedule your daily study routine and hours accordingly.

Identify your weak points

This is crucial. Identifying where you fall short will help you decide how much time and devotion you need for each section.

If you find that your listening skills are fine, but it is writing where you fall short, you will need to put in more writing hours in your daily/weekly plans. Take an online practice test to help determine where you stand at the start.

Optimal function

Too little study obviously results in poor grades. Too much however can cause burn out.

Don’t overwork yourself to the point that you can hardly function. Three or so hours of study, across the course of a day is reasonable, generally speaking.

Try different time frames. Some of us can study longer hours than others. Also try studying in one large sitting. Shift this around by breaking your overall time into multiple small sittings. What works better for you? Figure out what pace of study allows you to be most productive and stick with it.

Keep testing

After your initial online practice tests, determine where you stand. Repetitive mock testing allows you to become more familiar with the test format.

This will make you more comfortable and ensure better performance. Take one or two practice tests every other day.

One way is to end your study day with a practice test on a regular basis. Another is to work in three day shifts where you prep two days and take multiple practice tests on the third. Regular testing is crucial to TOEFL preparation.

Lock it down

Some of us might be in the habit of playing it by ear.

We study when we have the time and space. We don’t really go by a schedule. Though this might work in some areas of life, when studying for your TOEFL, it makes sense to be a little more organized.

See what time or times of the day are best suited for you to study in. Once you have established one or more time slots, note them down on a piece of paper that you can put up. Putting up the time table makes it easier to stick by.

Do not compromise your time table for anything or anyone until your test is over. Abiding to a time table will ensure you get the mental exercise you need in the right doses. This again improves retention, and hence, your results.

Two heads are better

Some of us prefer to work alone. Sometimes, it helps to work with a partner. This does not mean you use it as an excuse to hang out with your four best friends who are also giving the exam.

This is more about finding one or two people who you are able to study with. Checking each other’s work and helping each other are obvious benefits. Another one is that you get the opportunity to really work on those spoken English skills with a partner.

Stoppage Time

For football fans, stoppage time is the extra time you get if the match comes to a draw so that a winner may be determined.

You don’t get stoppage time before your TOEFL unless you set it up for yourself. When making your study plan, the final pointer is to conclude all preparation a week before your actual test.

Keeping the last week clear will allow you to deal with any academic problems you might be struggling with last minute. This will also help to fine tune your study.


Academic tests like the TOEFL are just some of the many tests in their many forms that we face in life.

You might never have to write a TOEFL exam again, but learning how to plan and organize is a lifelong skill! If after going through this blog, you still feel overwhelmed and confused, don’t be intimidated. We’ve got you! Check out some of our online practice tests or free support resources.

uMasterExam endeavors to support students appearing for their TOEFL iBT by allowing them access to numerous essential preparation resources.

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