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Preparing for the TOEFL in 20-30 Minutes per Day

We’ve already written a thirty-day TOEFL study schedule, which is helpful for people who have a few hours of free time to study every day. But for those of you who have kids, jobs, classes, households, and commutes, two hours every day can be too big a commitment. So if you’re totally lost when you try to fit half a practice test into your already-packed day, then this guide is for you. This is designed for low-intensity, long-term studying. The key to using it successfully is to be consistent. It may seem like missing one twenty-minute session won’t be a big deal, but when you’re working in such short bursts, every minute really counts.

Of course, life happens and will probably interfere with your studying at some point. If that’s the case, then try to plan ahead; it’s much easier to be slightly ahead of schedule than to be scrambling to catch up. Do two twenty-minute sessions the day before you have to miss a session. One of the reasons that this study plan works is that you review past material every single day. So if you are going to double up, try to do one session in the morning and one in the evening, rather than mashing them together into  one forty-minute session. This plan is all about seeing new information and then reviewing it just before you forget it, so even a few hours in between your sessions will help keep this cycle going.

Unlike the month-long study schedule, for this schedule you’ll need to become familiar with the format and content of the TOEFL before starting this schedule. What I’ve written below is just a tool to help you focus and get enough practice of each skill. So you need to know the test before you start, or at least take some additional time to get to know it.

This schedule will  get you through every part of the TOEFL in two weeks, and it can be repeated as many times as you want.

Materials needed: a voice recording device, a TOEFL prep book or Magoosh’s TOEFL prep, a notebook where you can keep a running vocabulary list.

Day 1: Do one reading passage and check it. Write down unfamiliar words.

Day 2: Scan the reading from yesterday and review the questions you missed. Do you understand now why you missed them? Answer two independent speaking topics (record your answers). Add to your vocabulary list any words that you needed and didn’t know to answer the questions.

Day 3: Listen to your speaking answers from yesterday and take written notes on your strengths and weaknesses. Read over your vocabulary list a few times.

Day 4: Do 3 listening passages and check them. Use the rest of your time to review anything you missed.

Day 5: Review the most difficult listening from yesterday. Do one reading passage and check your answers.

Day 6: Scan the reading passage. Do one listening passage.

Day 7: Review your vocabulary list. Plan and write one independent essay.

Day 8: Review and edit your essay.

Day 9: Do 3 listening passages. Check your answers.

Day 10: Review the questions you missed in yesterday’s listening. Do three integrated speaking questions (one of each type). Write down any words you needed and didn’t have.

Day 11: Do one reading passage. Write down unfamiliar words.

Day 12: Listen to your speaking answers and review the words you wrote down yesterday. Read/listen to the materials for an integrated writing assignment, and plan your answer.

Day 13: Write the integrated essay.

Day 14: Read/listen to the integrated writing materials again. Correct your essay.

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