Studying for the TOEFL while Working Full-Time

Hi friends,

If you have a full-time job, then you might not have a lot of free time — especially if you have a family, too, or any other personal obligations. So if you’re planning on going back to school and have to take the TOEFL (and likely the GRE or GMAT, too), you might find yourself with a bit of a problem. Sure, some students can afford to stop working and study full time. But if you can’t do that, then your opportunities to study are clearly going to be hard to find.

Ideally, you’ll be able to set aside an hour or two every day (possibly first thing in the morning or after work), and study the test regularly. But let’s be honest: for some people, that simply isn’t possible. You should still try to make that time, of course, and if you want to do your best on the TOEFL, you’ll have to find some regular time to sit down and learn the test, but you might not be able to do it 5 or 6 days a week.

But it’s important that you do something that often. If you want to make real improvement to your English skills, then you should use english every day.

While Riding Transit

One of my favorite ways to study regularly is to use TOEFL flash cards while on public transport. If you ride a bus, train, or subway regularly, then you should definitely be making use of that time! That’s also a good time to read English news, which improves your English vocabulary, reading comprehension, and familiarity with advanced grammar all at the same time.

While Driving

If you don’t ride trains or buses to work, then there’s a good chance you drive, instead. In that case, you might have to skip the flash cards, but you can still do some TOEFL-specific English practice! One of the best ways to prepare for classes at an English-speaking university is to listen to actual lectures in English. Of course, you can do this even if you don’t drive. Put on a pair of headphones and train your listening skills while walking, cooking, doing laundry, or just relaxing.

Any Time You’re Alone

One of the simplest ways to get TOEFL speaking practice and make vocabulary stick is to speak to yourself. Simply put, the more speaking you do, the more natural you will feel during the test. And if you already know the structures of TOEFL speaking tasks—what the tasks will look like and how you should respond—it’s pretty easy to imagine a fake speaking task and start giving your response with no computer, no test, and nobody listening. Of course, you might look a bit strange if you walk down the street speaking English to yourself. If there are people around who can hear you, just do it in your head. If you imagine yourself saying each word, it’s almost the same as actually speaking.

If you combine that speaking practice with your reading or listening, that’s even better—summarize everything you hear or read, because you’ll have to do plenty of that on the TOEFL.

The most important lesson here is that you can make use of all of the little moments in a day. Even if you can’t sit down for an hour in front of a computer to watch lessons on the test or do practice questions, you can practice your English. You just have to take every opportunity you get.

This post was written by Lucas Fink, resident TOEFL expert at Magoosh. For more advice on TOEFL prep, check out Magoosh’s TOEFL blog and try our free TOEFL vocabulary flashcards.

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  1. Hi Deepa!

    Why don’t you subscribe to our course:

    It’s free and will let you access all the interactive grammar exercises and one video class per day.

    We hope you enjoy it!

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