English Learner Article 100 ways to improve your TOEIC score

Summary: Tips for getting a better result in the TOEIC

By: |Audience: All|Category: English Language Examinations


  1. Start today. Languages take a long time to become a natural part of someone's brain, so the sooner you start studying the better. If the two options are to do a lot now and then just revise a little before the exam or start slowly now and then study a lot just before the exam, you will learn three or four times as much using the first method, and also remember the language longer after the exam is finished.
  2. Study for exactly the test you are doing. Not only do you need to study slightly differently if you are doing the computer based test, but there is a chance that you could have to take the test as it was before the 2007 changes or the new style test- depending on whether you are taking the test in your company or in a test centre. Please double check before you buy an exam practice book and start doing practice tests. However, the differences between the versions of the exams are small enough that if you already have some materials for another version that you want to use before spending more money, that is no problem.
  3. Have a plan of attack. Set yourself realistic targets for your TOEIC score in 3 months, 6 months, a year etc. and decide which things are best to do first in preparation for it and which things can wait until nearer the time of the exam.
  4. Concentrate on the important parts. What you need to pass the exam is mainly vocabulary (both General English vocabulary and Business English vocabulary) and practice is listening and reading. Grammar practice can help, but most students find this is the least important part of the exam.
  5. Concentrate on what you need. It is generally easier to gain points in the exam by practicing parts you find difficult rather than gaining even more points in the parts you find easy, especially if you learn techniques on how to pick out the important and manageable parts of those sections of the exam. The easier parts can then be saved to be used when you need a break from difficult stuff.
  6. Revise first. In the TOEIC test you need to be able to not only answer the questions, but answer them quickly. This means that language that you learnt once but can't remember without thinking for 5 minutes first won't be much use in the rushed, high pressure exam. It is therefore almost always better to properly learn something you half know already than it is to add something new to your list of things to learn, especially if you have made sure that it is useful language by finding it in material for the exam or material for people of your English level. Make sure you spend at least 30% of your study time revising things you have studied before but don't know very well yet.
  7. Have a weekly study plan. Work out how many hours you can spare for studying TOEIC, make time for a realistic number of breaks, decide which parts of studying you can do on the train to work, decide on your priorities for the rest of your time, think about when you are likely to be most tired and should therefore study easier stuff, and then write your weekly study plan down.
  8. Have a yearly study plan. Try a TOEIC test and analyse carefully what you got wrong and why. Write down all the things you will need to know and be able to do by the end of the year in order to get the score you need. Group those things together into categories (e.g. "reading skills" or "grammar"). Find out as many ways as you can of learning and practising each of those things and put them into your yearly plan so that the whole schedule has a lot of variety in it, e.g. by having different newspapers to read each month, or starting with local newspapers in English and working your way up to The Economist.
  9. Have a daily study plan. With your own knowledge of when you are most likely to be able to concentrate, plan to do the new language and the most difficult parts at those times and the easier parts and doing old practice papers again as revision for generally less productive times like after lunch.
  10. Get a job where you can use English. As TOEIC is a test of practical, everyday English, using English everyday in a work setting is the best possible practice for things like reading faxes, emails and invoices in the test.
  11. Volunteer. If you can't use English in your job, try volunteering as a guide to foreign tourists, for an English language telephone helpline, charity fundraising in an area where many foreigners hang out etc.
  12. Read. The thing you need most to pass the TOEIC test is vocabulary, and the best way of learning vocabulary is through reading. Although looking words up in a dictionary and learning them later is a good idea for this, you need to make sure that this doesn't slow down your reading speed (very important for the TOEIC reading paper). You can practice both reading fast and vocabulary by reading through a whole article, paragraph or page quickly while only circling or underlining the words you are not sure about, then stop reading and look up the words in a dictionary. At this time or later, you will also need to transfer the most useful of those words to a list of vocabulary to learn.
  13. Read graded readers. Although the texts you will have to read in the TOEIC exam are not made easier for you in any way, when it comes to learning vocabulary it is best to read something at your level where which words are important for students to learn has already been decided for you, i.e. a graded reader, or "easy reader". Well known examples of these are Penguin Readers, Macmillan Readers, Oxford Readers and Black Cat Readers. To make sure you learn good language for the exam, it is best to choose a non-fiction title if you can. If you find there is one or two words a page which you are not sure about, you have found the right level book.
  14. Read the news. Although the language in newspapers is quite different to what you will read and hear in the TOEIC exam, the fact that English language news comes out everyday and so is always new is quite motivating- if you don't read it now, it will soon be gone! The easiest news to understand is usually that on websites like Yahoo or through Google news alerts. You can make it even easier to understand by reading a story that you already know about. Choosing business news might give you some useful vocabulary if your Business English is weak. However, unless you have a very high level, don't worry if you have problems understanding the news on CNN and BBC News, as this is nothing like the language in the Listening part of the exam.
  15. Surf the web. As information has become available in every language on the internet, many students have started to use English less than they did a few years ago. You can push yourself to use English by always using English search items on the English language Google site. You can also make it easier to understand whatever you read in English by using an online or CD ROM dictionary that translates a word on the website if you click on it. However, avoid services that translate whole pages of text as the translations are not too good and it will mean you are no longer practising your English.
  16. Watch with English subtitles. Although watching videos can be a good way of getting used to fast, natural speech, the disadvantage is that it is very difficult to look words up that you don't understand in the dictionary. Watching a DVD with English sound and English subtitles makes it easier to understand and easier to look words up. As you can easily lose concentration before the end of a movie, short episodes of series are better practice.
  17. Read quickly. Reading speed is one of the most important parts of the TOEIC exam. Before you start reading anything in English, remind yourself to read as quickly as you can, not stopping for parts you don't understand. If you want to read it more slowly to check your understanding or look up words in the dictionary, only do this the second time you read something.
  18. Buy a speaking dictionary. Students often find the questions in the listening difficult even though it only uses words they already know. This is usually because they don't recognize the word because they have only read it before and never heard it. Listening to the pronunciation of each new word you learn and repeating it a couple of times means you are more likely to remember it and more likely to understand it when you hear it. Many electronic dictionaries now have this function. If you are embarrassed about doing this in public, you will need to buy some headphones to go with your electronic dictionary.
  19. Buy a pronunciation practice CD ROM. Although you don't need to speak in the exam, any work you do on making yourself sound a little bit more like a native speaker will help you understand the native speaker voices in the test.
  20. Change everything to English. Some of the reading texts and listening texts in the exam are instructions on how to use machines and office equipment. Changing the language of your mobile phone, MP3 player (iPod etc.), internet search engine etc. to English can be good practice for this.
  21. Read your instruction manuals in English. Many electronics items are now sold with the instructions in many languages. Try reading them in English first, as this is quite similar to some of the language you will see in the TOEIC Reading paper.
  22. Write. Although there is no writing in the exam, learning to write the kinds of documents you will have to read in the exam is a good way of finding out where the important information usually is and so reading things quicker. It is also good for learning vocabulary.
  23. Read every part of your dictionary. As well as being a place you look up words you don't know, many modern dictionaries also tell you how to write common business documents you will see in the exam like emails, which words are most common in English and therefore worth learning first, the differences between commonly confused words (often used in trick questions in the exam) etc. etc.
  24. Write an English diary. People who don't need to write English in their work or studies often get stuck on what they can write if they don't have a teacher helping them. Writing about what you did everyday means you will never run out of material. If you can also write out whole conversations you had during the day, that is exactly the kind of language that you will hear in the Listening part of the exam.
  25. Online chat. If you don't have the chance to speak English, the closest thing you can find is text chatting online. This is fairly similar to speaking as you have to write in real time and there is quite a lot of functional language like greeting people, apologizing etc. that is like the language you will hear in the Listening part of the test.
  26. Join discussion forums. Reading an online forum about something you are interested in or knowledgeable about can be very motivating, as you will really want to know what people are saying and can write your own comments if you have some information that other people need, or want to say that you agree or disagree with someone. Like chat pages, there is also quite a lot of useful functional language like agreeing and disagreeing. You might also be able to find a discussion forum about other people's experiences with the TOEIC exam.
  27. Join a TOEIC class. Although there is no speaking in the test, using English and talking through your problems with it can really fix the language in your head. It can also help your motivation, and you will get some good tips on how to take the exam.
  28. Join a Business English class. Although specialized business vocabulary is not supposed to be necessary to pass the test, the functional language (dealing with complaints etc.) and some everyday vocabulary that comes up more in Business English classes ("colleague", names of jobs etc.) means that this kind of class can really help, especially if you don't have any business experience.
  29. Join a general English Conversation class. Although there are many tricks in this list and on Usingenglish.com to boost your TOEIC score in a short time, if you really want to gain more than 100 points in the long term there is no replacement for just improving your general level of English by finishing a class and going up to the next level. A General English conversation class can also be a good way of keeping you interested in English if you are getting bored with TOEIC exam practice.
  30. Do a conversation exchange. If you don't have the money for an English class, don't like sitting in a classroom or would also like the make foreign friends, try looking in local magazines for a conversation exchange partner- someone who wants to learn your language who will teach you English in exchange. As social chit chat only really comes into the exam in Part Two of the listening, if you want to push yourself for the exam you will need to make sure you write down and remember any new words you or your partner use, and try to speak about more serious topics like the business news. You could also try taking a business magazine article to discuss.
  31. Buy a TOEIC practice book. The two most important points to remember when shopping for a TOEIC book are to buy something that is really like the test and to be realistic about what someone at your level with your amount of free time can do. Be careful when buying a book- just because a book has TOEIC on the front does not mean it has been tested and approved by ETS. It is usually best to stick to books produced by the big international publishers like Longman, Barrons, and Cambridge- which usually means buying a book all in English rather than one with explanations in your language. It is probably also best to start off with a thin, low level book that you can get through quickly and easily and so be motivated for the challenge of the next one. Also make sure that a practice tests book has the answer key, preferably a detailed one that explains why each answer is correct or not.
  32. Buy a TOEIC practice CD ROM. Even if you are not going to take the computer version of the test, sitting at a computer and doing some practice can make a nice change from sitting at a desk with bits of paper and therefore can boost your motivation.
  33. Try some online TOEIC practice. Many sites now offer free or paid online TOEIC practice which you can easily find with a Google search. Like using a CD ROM, it is also a nice break from using a book and pen.
  34. Try doing a test backwards. Many TOEIC candidates never get good at the last part of the Reading section of the test because they spend most of their time and use up most of their energy on the earlier parts of the paper. Try working your way backwards through the test instead a few times.
  35. Time yourself. It is difficult to get yourself motivated to do many practice tests when your scores seem to go up and down each time and you can't see clear progress in the short term. One solution is to concentrate on the timing rather than the marks. Time how long it takes you to complete the whole Reading part of the test and try to make that shorter every time- even if you have already finished quicker than the official time limit of the test. You can also do the same thing with each section of the test.
  36. Read and listen. After you have finished the listening paper, read through the tapescript carefully and check any words you don't know in your dictionary. Next, listen and read the tapescript at the same time, listening for how the written script and the sounds that are pronounced in natural speech are different (e.g. the fast pronunciation of "Do you"). You might also want to write the pronunciation changes on the tapescript, e.g. crossing out sounds that are not pronounced, drawing a loop between sounds that are pronounced together etc. You can then read and listen one more time, and try to say the sentences in the tapescript with the same rhythm as the speaker on the CD.
  37. Do exactly the same test again. Once you have finished a whole practice test or one section of it, check your answers and check you understand why you made any mistakes you did. Write the vocabulary and grammar from the test you didn't know in your notebook, and test yourself on it at least 3 more times over the next week or two. You can then try the same test again to check your memory, make the language really stick in your mind, and boost your confidence.
  38. Set yourself a vocabulary goal. For example, if you learn 5 words a day for a year that will mean more than 1500 new words you can understand in English and being a whole level higher in reading comprehension. Once you have set that target, try to learn double that everyday, so that you are always ahead of your target and therefore motivated.
  39. Learn whole English phrases. Speed of understanding is very important in both the Listening and Reading sections of the TOEIC test, and one thing that can really slow you down is trying to understand an English sentence word by word. You can make your comprehension much faster by learning whole common sentences of English such as "I look forward to hearing from you soon" and "That's a pity" rather than the expressions "look forward" and "pity". One good way of doing this is to buy a travel phrase book with CD, which will have common phrases like "Do you want fries with that?" which you can practice responding quickly to. Some of them are produced especially for Business travellers, so might be especially useful. You could also try learning any English language notices and announcements in your town, for example on the subway or buses.
  40. Listen to an English language audio guide. Many museums have little MP3 players and headphones that tell you about some of the things you can see as you walk around. Looking at the exhibits and listening to the descriptions in English is quite similar to TOEIC Listening Part One. If you have problems understanding it, buy an English language guidebook and try the audio guide again when you have read the guidebook and looked up any difficult words in your dictionary.
  41. Stop translating. The thing that slows down listening and reading comprehension most is translating things into your own language in your head. You can start to think only in English by using an English-English dictionary, not using translations in your lists of vocabulary to learn, and learning whole phrases of English.
  42. Brainstorm vocabulary. There are several common situations in TOEIC that you need lots of vocabulary about, e.g. in the office, in restaurants, on the telephone, in a workshop or lab, in the street, in shops and on public transport. Taking one of those situations and brainstorming, for example, all the office furniture and equipment you can think of, using your dictionary to help you once you get stuck, can be really useful and motivating. Doing this as a spider diagram, linking together similar or connected words, can also help you think of more words and remember it better. Make sure you revise any new vocabulary in the week after brainstorming, then brainstorm again and see if you have missed any out or have thought of any new ones. Also make sure you learn the pronunciation of the words.
  43. Brainstorm functional language. Choose one of the typical situations for a TOEIC listening, e.g. in the airport, and brainstorm as many typical sentences people say in this situation as you can, e.g. "Did you pack this luggage yourself?" You can find this kind of language in a phrasebook for travellers or a Business English self-study book.
  44. Write dialogues. For the typical TOEIC settings like those shown in the pictures of Part One, try writing whole dialogues of what people might say when they get on the bus, arrive at reception etc. This can help you predict the language you will hear in both Listening Part One and Listening Part Two.
  45. Write descriptions. Either before or after you listen to a Listening Part One task, try writing as many true sentences about the picture as you can.
  46. Draw. As an alternative way of practising Listening Part One, try listening to all four sentences without looking at the picture first, and make a sketch of each of the four situations described. When you then look at the picture you should be able to find which of your sketches it is most similar to and therefore which the right answer is.
  47. Join a study group. Just sitting next to someone studying the same thing as you can help you to discipline yourself you not take too many breaks etc. You can also test each other on what you have been trying to learn, try and explain why certain answers are wrong etc.
  48. Train your short term memory. Many people have memory problems when taking the TOEIC test like remembering what you heard in the text until you hear the questions. Even brain training for this that is not connected to language can be useful, e.g. special games on the Nintendo DS.
  49. Get longer and shorter. The first time you try a test, try checking every answer after you do it before you try the next one. The second time, try a whole section and then check the answers to that section. Continue making the parts of the test you do without stopping longer and longer until you can do a whole test without stopping. If you get bored after a few timed complete tests or you find that you are not remembering the language you have learnt from it because it is too much, alternate doing whole tests and doing shorter sections. You can also alternate doing the whole test and doing lots of examples of just one section, preferably one you are finding difficult.
  50. Be realistic. If you are ever disappointed by how many questions you have got wrong in a TOEIC exam or how many questions you couldn't finish before the time limit, always remember that the only people who will finish every question and get them all right are near native speakers who have lived, and probably studied, abroad when they were still young. Your aim is always to find the easiest questions that you couldn't get right and work on them to improve your score step by step.
  51. Eat healthily. Although the vitamins and oils for brain development are only proven to work for growing children, eating healthy food and avoiding additives can help you study longer each day and remember better what you have studied. Also remember that alcohol can affect your short term memory powers.
  52. Cut down on the coffee. If you are too used to drinking coffee while studying, you might be in for a shock when you have to take the TOEIC test for 3 hours with no drinks or food allowed.
  53. Stop snacking while studying. As well as getting used to not being able to do this during the exam, it could also improve your general health and mean that time preparing and eating food is a proper rest from study that leaves you refreshed and ready to do some more serious work.
  54. Understand your biorhythms. By knowing whether you are a morning person or an evening person, you can plan which easy, mechanical things like learning vocabulary lists or doing pronunciation practice you can leave to times you are sleepy like after lunch, and which more challenging things you should do while you are most awake (for most people this is first thing in the morning, even for most people who think they are evening people). The same things are true over a week with Monday mornings, times just before the weekend etc.
  55. Do some exercise. Doing physical exercise can help you improve your ability to concentrate and sit still while studying without getting restless. It can also help your endurance during the exam. If you can exercise whilst also doing something in English, e.g. doing an English language exercise video or listening to your MP3 player while jogging, that's even better!
  56. Take up yoga. As well as having the benefits of exercise, doing something like yoga can also help you cope with the stress of studying for the exam and actually being in the exam. Again, if you can find an English language yoga video or instructor, that can help you in one more way!
  57. Be positive. Believing that you can succeed can have a large effect in actually making you succeed. There are books, audio tapes and videos that can show you how to boost your confidence in yourself and think positively everyday, available from the self-help and business sections of bookshops. These books are often also fairly easy English language reading material.
  58. Take time out. Although it can be difficult to know when it is just being lazy, sometimes when you are learning a language you just need to give your brain time to really understand and learn the language subconsciously while you are doing something unconnected, for example by sleeping after studying and then trying it again the next day.
  59. Take up another hobby. Just like recovering after a big football match, time spent getting away from English study so that you come back to it refreshed and ready to learn should be something you are completely absorbed in and is fun.
  60. Tell someone what you are doing and get them to motivate you. In things like sports we are often motivated by things like competition between people, being told by your coach you have improved etc. It is therefore not surprising that many people get demotivated when studying on their own. By communicating with someone how you are doing, e.g. on the internet or telling someone in your family if you have having a good or a bad day, you will find that the progress you are making becomes clearer to you.
  61. Even if you've done it, try again. If you manage to get the TOEIC score you need on a practice test, you should certainly feel very happy and reward yourself with a beer or a bar of chocolate. However, you should then get quickly back to studying to make sure you can get the same score under real exam conditions. First of all, getting lucky in, for example, getting exactly the grammar questions that you know the answers to is possible and can change your score by up to 35 points- so try another test from the same book to make sure you can get that score another time. Another thing is that as most practice tests are not produced by ETS and so there is a chance that one or more (or even all) of the tests in the book you have are easier or more difficult than the real test. You might therefore want to try a test from a book published by a different company. Generally, the books by the big international publishers are the most reliable. Finally, if you really can get the score you want every time you try a test, set your target score 30 or 40 points higher so you have a cushion in case you have a bad day on the day of the test.
  62. Set your body clock. If your test times will be when you are usually sleeping or eating, you will have to get used to not doing those things at those times for a few weeks before the test.
  63. See if you understand why it is wrong now. If you are studying on your own, a few weeks or months are trying an exam task look at your answers again and see if you have learnt something that now makes the answers you got wrong more obvious. If you still don't understand after looking at something three or more times, it is probably worth getting a teacher for at least 2 or 3 classes so you can ask them questions and stop making the same mistakes, or at least joining a study group so you can get the ideas of other students.
  64. Learn to cope with stress. For some people, stress is as much of a problem in the exam as the language they are being tested on. Preparation for this can include getting used to other stressful situations like public speaking and/ or learning relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing.
  65. Try real test conditions. Do a practice test in a library or quiet café so that you have exactly the same conditions of not being able to move and having people around you and less than perfect silence.
  66. Look at your progress. If you are getting disappointed with your progress in English, you are sure to be able to find something, e.g. a test score from the beginning of your course, that shows you how much you have actually learnt. This will give you the motivation to keep trying and step up to the next level.
  67. Keep all your scores. Especially if you are studying on your own, it can be very easy to give up after your score goes down in a couple of practice tests. Keeping all your scores can reminding you of how well you have progressed over the long term.
  68. Set short term, medium term and long term goals. For example, 20 points by the end of the month, 40 points by the end of 3 months and 100 points by the end of the year. When setting these goals, remember that you will probably progress most quickly at the beginning of your studies.
  69. Choose the easiest bits first. Just like doing exercise, most people need a warm up to get into studying or doing a test. Every time you sit down, decide which part is easiest and start with that for 5 to 15 minutes. Thinking about which part is easy is also a good way of looking at the test material in a different way.
  70. Time each question. As well as helping you to use your time well in the exam, the adrenaline boost of doing something against the clock can make you more interested in it and therefore help you remember it better.
  71. Time each section. As well as giving you the same motivating effects as timing each question, this can help you see which part of the reading paper you are doing slowest and so need most practice on.
  72. Reward yourself. If you think of the studying part of your brain as an animal that needs to be trained, by giving yourself a bar of chocolate when you have studied hard or got a good score you can train your subconscious to work hard to get those rewards again.
  73. Try answering the question without hearing or reading the text. As well as being something you can occasionally do in the exam, this can help you read the questions more carefully to make sure you aren't being tricked by a few words.
  74. Practice at the same time as the test. Try a few practice tests at exactly the same time of day, and even the same day of the week, as your TOEIC test will be. This will help you get a realistic idea of your energy and concentration levels at that time, and help you improve them.
  75. Stop cramming. The amount of language that could be in the TOEIC exam is so huge that the chances that whatever you study the day before coming up and helping you get a better score are the same as reading one random page in an encyclopaedia and expecting it to help you with your university entrance test. On the day or two before the exam, just concentrate on doing some relaxing in English and making sure you are healthy and happy on the day of the test.
  76. Buy an MP3 player. There are so many things in English you can listen to for free on the Internet that you should easily be able to find something that interests you and is the right level that you can download and listen to while you are travelling to work or doing exercise. If you can't get an MP3 player, it is also possible to copy downloads onto a CD on your computer and then listen to them on a CD Walkman.
  77. Try something easier. Doing something easier like a TOEIC Bridge practice test can give a boost to your confidence and so motivate you to try harder. It can also help you realize which parts of the language you are studying for the TOEIC are more basic and so need studying first.
  78. Time everything you do during the day. As you can't be checking your watch every minute of the exam, learning how long things take and how long 75 minutes really is can help you keep your speed up in the exam while stopping you rushing too much and panicking. Predicting how long the washing up, walking to the shops etc. will take and checking your predictions can help develop your accurate idea of time.
  79. Try something more difficult. Like practicing sprints to develop long distance running strength, trying something even more difficult than the TOEIC exam like an instruction manual for a new machine in English can help you develop skills like skimming over words you don't know, and make the TOEIC test seem easier when you go back to it.
  80. Write down your tactics. As well as writing down new language, writing down the things you learn about how to do the test can help you remember the best tactics and can also be good practice of English.
  81. Read on the toilet. Many people find the best way of revising new vocabulary is by sticking the words they need to learn to the toilet door.
  82. Copy and change a TOEIC sentence or text. To make sure you understand and really learn a typical TOEIC sentence like the functional language in Listening Part Two, copy it down and then practise changing one word at a time until it is as different as possible while still being correct English.
  83. Copy and delete a TOEIC sentence or text. Another way of making sure you remember the language is to cover or erase the sentence one word at a time until the whole sentence has gone or you can't remember it anymore.
  84. Do a TOEIC exam listening as a dictation. Although in the exam you have to be careful not to try and understand every word, using on exam practice text to listen over and over and try to write down everything you hear can be a good way of learning how the pronunciation of words are changed in fast, natural speech.
  85. Learn the word stress. Practising the sounds of English on your own and recognizing when you are making the correct one is very difficult. One thing you can easily write down and learn that often makes understanding when you listen difficult is the rhythm of words. You can mark this with a big circle over the stressed (louder and longer) syllable of each word.
  86. Learn the number of syllables. This is another easy way of making sure you understand words when you hear them in the exam.
  87. Learn the phonemic script. The next stage is to learn to write down the whole pronunciation of words you learn in English. The only way to do this accurately is to write them down with the special symbols known as the "phonemic script". To make learning it easier, start by just copying the symbol for the one difficult sound for each word from your dictionary, then slowly work your way up until you can write whole words without help.
  88. Learn other parts of speech. Another thing that can catch you out in the exam is hearing a word that is basically the same as one you know, but is a noun when you only know the verbs, e.g. "communication" and "communicate". Learning each form of a word can also help you remember the original word better.
  89. Learn the sentence stress. In the same way that you need to be able to skim quickly through a reading text to look for the important information to answer a question, in the listening you need to be able to pick out the important information. In English the important words in a sentence are pronounced longer and louder than the grammar words like "am" and "at" between them. Learning which these words are, marking them on sentences while or before you listen, and practicing speaking with the correct rhythm can all help with this.
  90. Watch soap operas in English. Although it may seem that television dramas about family problems etc. are a long way from the Business English that TOEIC is supposed to be a test of, in fact a lot of the language, especially in Listening Part Two, is everyday functional English that people use when they say hello, ask people to do things etc. If you don't use English everyday, soap operas are probably the most common and easiest to understand way to regularly hear such language.
  91. Listen to radio drama. If you can understand the everyday functional language used in a TV drama, then the next stage is to try and understand the same kind of language without the pictures by listening to a radio soap opera like "The Archers", downloadable from BBC Radio 4.
  92. Watch wildlife documentaries. In Listening Part One you will look at something and hear a description of it at the same time. This kind of situation is very rare in everyday life, but in scientific documentaries like "Planet Earth" quite a lot of that kind of language is used.
  93. Watch or listen to sports commentary in English. This is another common situation in which you will actually hear people describing what you can see.
  94. Watch a video about the business world. When you are choosing a DVD to watch, try picking one that is in a business setting and therefore will have lots of Business English vocabulary you can practice your listening comprehension of. Possibilities include comedy series like "The Office", documentaries like "Enron: the smartest guys in the room" or movies like "American Psycho", "Rogue Trader" or "Bonfire of the Vanities".
  95. Listen to the business news. Although all the listening texts in the TOEIC exam are dialogues and therefore the business news in English is much more difficult, this can be a good way of making sure you understand typical Business English vocabulary used in context. To make it easier for you to understand, try reading the same business news in English or even your own language first.
  96. Listen to radio with an English DJ. Although listening is like any other part of language learning and the more effort you put in the more you will improve, unlike other skills just having something in English on in the background without paying attention to it at all can help a little with getting used to natural English rhythm and so help you to pick out the important words when you are listening in the exam.
  97. Read your own language quicker. Most of the skills of reading quickly are the same for every language. When you read something in your own language, practice missing out the bits like the beginning and ends of emails that you know don't have any information in them, stopping reading each newspaper article when it is no longer interesting etc.
  98. Cross it out and throw it away. When you have completely finished a TOEIC paper, worksheet or book and copied down the important language to learn, putting a big cross across the page or even ripping it up and throwing it away can be a very motivating reward for your hard work, and also reduce the pile of things on your desk waiting to be done.
  99. Clear up your desk and your life. Before you start studying, make sure that nothing can interrupt you like your mobile ringing, the washing waiting to be hung up etc. If you take one or two days a week off from studying (generally a very good idea), try to use them to tidy up your study space, clear away other paperwork like bills that needs doing etc.
  100. Just do it. For some people, drawing up a study timetable and sharpening all your pencils is just a way of delaying the start of your studies. If you are such a person, it is best to start studying right now and only do most of the hints above when you find your enthusiasm fading in a few days, weeks or months. Always remember that the most important thing is how long you study and how much effort you put into that study- thinking about how and when you do so are mainly just ways of keeping that level of effort up week after week.

Copyright © 2008

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com

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