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5 Laws of TOEFL Land

Updated: May 27, 2018


TOEFL Land is a whole new world. It’s not like any previous English class you’ve had. In order to survive and thrive in TOEFL Land, you must let go of the things that have helped you in your previous experience as a student of the English language. You must let go of the things you’ve learned as a student who has studied various academic subjects in general.

Just like other countries that have different laws and social customs, you must adjust to a different set of rules in TOEFL Land.

Here are 5 IMPORTANT TOEFL Land Laws:

1. There are No Dictionaries in TOEFL Land!

You must learn to operate without a dictionary. Yes! Put down your translator! There won’t be one on the test. So, why are you still using one when you study? Do not translate every single word you don’t know. You must figure out the meaning based on what is happening around that word. This is what we call context clues. In TOEFL Land, context clues are your friend.

2. In TOEFL Land, you will Encounter Readings and Listenings about Academic Topics that you know nothing about.

This can be scary. You’ve been studying English language for many years and suddenly, you are reading a text about exoplanets and you have no idea what is going on because of all the academic terms. You may not even know how to speak about this topic in your native language. Don’t freak out. Breathe. Focus on what you do understand. The good news is you don’t have to understand every word or every idea to answer TOEFL questions correctly. As you study TOEFL and go on that journey through TOEFL Land, you will pick up strategies to help you!

3. TIME will feel different in TOEFL Land!

In the Reading Section, you will feel like there is never enough time! In the Speaking Section, 60 seconds might feel like one hour if you don’t know what to say. You will master the skill of time management. There are effective time management strategies you can learn and use for each section of the test.

4. There are TRAPS in TOEFL Land.

You will notice trap answer choices that are designed to get you to choose the wrong answer. If you know how to identify a trap, you will stay safe in TOEFL Land.

5. In TOEFL Land, memorization is not as important as STRATEGY.

As students, many of us have been taught that we should memorize a lot of information in order to pass a test. This is NOT true in TOEFL Land. It’s not about memorizing information on the Roman Empire so you can get the questions correct. In fact, facts that you know from your own study on a topic may not be mentioned in the text. If one of these facts you know is among the answer choices but it is not mentioned in the text, it is wrong! If you select this choice, you’ve just fallen into a TOEFL trap. While it is good to familiarize yourself with certain TOEFL topics in a general sense, this is not about understanding the topic. It IS about knowing how to answer the question correctly.

Think of your TOEFL preparation as an adventure in a new land. It can be stressful and scary at first, but once you start to know the terrain, it can be fun! (Maybe?)

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