Kate Hardin

Getting The Most Out of Your TOEFL Study Sessions

You can study for the TOEFL for months on end and still flop on test day if you you’re not studying the right way. Below, I’ve got a few tips that will make your studies much more fruitful, so listen up!

Figure out your learning style.

There are a lot of ways to categorize different types of learners: you can be auditory, kinesthetic, or visual; you can have different intelligences or aptitudes for different skills; you can work better alone, in a group, or somewhere in between. Take a moment to think about the most effective study sessions you’ve had. Were you by yourself or in a group? In class, do you remember more when you listen, when you read, or when you actively use the information you’re learning? Use this insight when deciding when and how to study.

Decide where you will study.

It’s common advice that you should always study in the same place. While that probably is a good habit, it’s not practical for most people.  The chart below may help you decide what place will help you study best. Check out this chart to help you decide:

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.



Decide whether to study in a group or alone

Some people find the support and discussion of group study sessions helpful whereas others find it too easy to get off-track. If you can find a good group to meet with, it’s worth doing at least a couple of group study sessions. If you’re lucky, you’ll either decide to form a regular study group, or you’ll at least have a few opportunities to exchange tips and tricks. If it doesn’t work out, at least you will know for sure that you’re better off on your own. Maybe you find a large group too intimidating, but want the other benefits of group study. In that case, consider meeting with one or two people or finding online forums and test prep communities to give you the strength of numbers without the inconvenience.

Do a practice run before the big day

If you study best in a large group and a notebook and pen on the porch of a café with a cup of coffee and music playing, that’s great information to have. But studies show that we recall information better in familiar situations. The space where you take the exam on test day is going to be sterile, quiet, and you’ll be sitting in front of a computer for a long time. At least once, take a practice exam or do your studying in similar conditions at a school or library. That way, both you and your memory will be able to work at full potential on test day.


  • Kate Hardin

    Kate has 6 years of experience in teaching foreign language. She graduated from Sewanee in 2012, where she studied and taught German, and recently returned from a year spent teaching English in a northern Russian university. Follow Kate on Google+!

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