Why you *must* track the activities you finish to get TOEFL Results

Hi there. I’m Jaime Miller, the TOEFL Breakthrough Coach. In yesterday’s video, I shared with you the importance of putting 10 to 15 hours a week into studying seriously for TOEFL IBT. And today’s tip is related to that one. It builds on it, and it’s going to take you further. My tip is really simple on the face of it, but the results of doing this regularly can actually be huge and it can really have an impact on your motivation levels and your clarity around what you’re doing and how you’re spending your time.

And before I tell you the tip, because it’s going to seem kind of simple when I say it, but the risk of not doing this is that you get really disconnected from your perception of your progress for TOEFL iBT and the reality of your progress for it. So in my experience, and I’ve been doing this for 11 years now, at this point, you’ve got to take the time to actually follow through on this. And it’s very simple. Find a piece of paper, find a notebook. It’s actually better if it’s an entire notebook that is going to become your dedicated planner and to do list for studying for TOEFL IBT, you need to have an organization system where you’re keeping track of all of the small things that you need to do like to-do list.

And then also all of the things that you actually accomplish. So in that planner or notebook, or on that piece of paper, you’re going to start making a list and the list is going to be called TOEFL Studying Log. And you’re going to put the date and the time and which section you’re studying for. If it’s reading, you can put an R, if it’s listening, put an L, if it’s speaking, put an S, and if it’s writing, put a W and then in the fourth column, you’re putting the activity of what you actually did. So maybe for example, you read three passages and put the number of which passage you read, you know, and you did a full practice testing and you checked your scores and you made flashcards for the words that are unfamiliar, and you memorized some vocabulary based on that, right? Like, whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re gonna keep track of that.

Now, why, why does this matter? Why does this start to change things? First of all, it’s going to motivate you because you’re seeing what you’re doing. And it’s really satisfying to start watching the list of things improve, especially if you’re able to do it multiple days in a row, multiple weeks in a row, it becomes a really energizing reminder of all of the time and the energy that you’ve dedicated to studying for TOEFL. And that can make you a lot more confident when you’re actually at the test. But the other reason why it is so important is because we need to align your perception of your performance for TOEFL with reality.

Now, this is especially important to have when you are studying seriously for a speaking score of 26 or writing score of 24. A lot of students study my material and they understand how to get writing 24 as an example. And they’ll do a little bit of the homework, but they’ll come to class next time. And they’ll say like, you know, I’m writing so much, but I don’t feel like I’m getting better. It’s just not really changing. Or they practice and then they go take the exam and their score may actually be lower than what it was before, which is really shocking and super confusing. And then they think, Oh, maybe my tutorial isn’t working, or they need to go find another tutor or another program or something.

Actually, the problem in this situation always comes back to you. Didn’t do enough practice. And I know that that can be hard to hear because your perception is that you’re studying a lot. You’re studying all the time. And one thing that happens for a lot of students when they’re studying TOEFL is that in the middle of studying, they get lost inside of the English.

They get lost inside of the thought process. And in that moment where, you know, you start looking up things in the dictionary, or you start having to do extra research on Google to understand what something means or when you’re writing essays, you’re, you’re thinking like a lot of thinking. That process changes your perception of time passing. And it feels like time is so much more than there actually is.

And so sometimes with people who are trying to improve their writing or their speaking for TOEFL, they believe, and I’m not arguing with this, but the perception they have is that they’re investing so much time in studying. When we go back and look at it, maybe they actually only produced six essays, you know, or like four speaking responses or something like that.

But it’s because the creation process is so exhausting that when you finally get the result, it feels like this huge accomplishment, but it’s just not enough. Now, a couple of weeks ago, I recorded an interview with one of my students, Olga, and she got a writing score of 25 for the first time, 24, 25, which she never had before she studied with me.

So that’s a situation where someone is for the first time with my program, developing the ability to get that score. And if you watch her interview, which I suggest, because it’s super interesting. And she shares a lot. She admitted that she wrote dozens and dozens and dozens of essays, not just five, not just six, but again, this all comes back to tracking what you do, keeping lists of what you do and knowing for a fact that you actually invested that time or energy, because it won’t work. Everybody comes to me at the beginning and they all say I’m studying so much for TOEFL. Okay, that may be true. But the problem that you’ve got is that whatever it is that you’ve been doing, isn’t getting you the results.

So you need to know what it is that you’re actually doing. And in my consultation process, I ask, what have you been doing to study TOEFL? And if you can show me a list of like a calendar of like how you’ve been spending your time, I can find the issues and I can make some changes and we can get you on the right track so that you’re headed towards your destination.

So that’s my suggestion for today, get a piece of paper, get a whole notebook, whatever it is, don’t make excuses about it. Just find something around you today in your house that you can start keeping track of that list. So that, you know, today I did this activity, you know, and then every day going forward, write down what it is and how you’re spending your time, because it’s not enough for you to be able to know for yourself. You must be able to communicate your study schedule to a tutor who can help guide you towards your goal. Have an awesome day. And if you want to find my programs, Understand How to Get Speaking. 26, Writing 24 or Reading and Listening 23, come to my website, jaimemiller.com.

I’ll see you later.

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