Why TOEFL Students Need to Take Practice Tests (Part 1)

ScoreNexus TOEFL Blog

Taking a test is unpleasant. It’s stressful, tiring and the resulting score is a judgement on the test-taker’s competency–and most people really don’t like to be judged.

Keeping this in mind, I’d like to share three important reasons to emphasize to your students why they need to regularly take TOEFL practice tests. In this post, I’ll post the first reason. Whenever you sense one of your students dreading the prospect of taking a practice test (which can be perfectly normal), these are some reasons you can cite.

Reason 1: Students need to become comfortable taking the test.

This is an important, but often overlooked reason. Students and teachers alike tend to think if they do drills in class or from books, the skills learned will transfer over to a test environment. Wrong!

This is pretty much a universal rule: In order to become good at something, you have to actually do it.

As an example using soccer (or “football” where you might be living), you can practice dribbling the ball, passing it to teammates and shooting it. You can practice over and over all the components of what soccer players usually need to do on the pitch. You can be a master at all these drills, and yet when it comes time to play an actual soccer game, you might be poor (a common occurrence).

There is much more to playing well than the individual components you drill. That is why soccer practices always include live scrimmages–simulated real games.

The above logic holds true for taking the TOEFL. You can do drills on Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing all day, but you really don’t know your skill level until you take a simulated practice test–such as the ones ScoreNexus provides. Just like with soccer, there is so much more to doing well on the TOEFL than can be done with drills alone.

For one, there’s the interface of the test. It’s not always obvious how you are supposed to navigate around the TOEFL. You don’t want to be trying to figure out what button to click when taking the real test. Take a simulated test first and figure it out when you can afford to make mistakes.

Further, there’s the format of the test. The way the TOEFL content is structured is complicated and sometimes illogical. You don’t want to be surprised when the timer runs out on some part of the test. You need to know and be comfortable with the time limits well before you try and take a real test.

Further, you had better practice in advance reading a passage on a screen as opposed to in a book. It’s a lot different reading from a nice book in front of you on a desk compared to looking up at a screen–which is split in half and displays the passage in a skinny column on only the right side!

In short, students need to be comfortable with the user experience of the TOEFL. This is always a factor in a student’s performance to some degree. With some students, a low comfort level can be downright disastrous.

In my next post, I’ll give Reason #2 why students need to take practice tests.

Until next time,
Ed, founder of ScoreNexus