The Test of English as a Foreign Language can be very tricky and difficult to pass for most students. This is because certain crucial factors are ignored or overlooked. Students’ failure in the TOEFL examination can be attributed to a whole lot of factors which include;
1. Poor Planning/Preparation: Many students usually fail to prepare for the TOEFL test properly. If you ask them why, they will be quick to defend themselves, telling you that TOEFL is no big deal but just an English examination, especially those who have spent the better of their academic life receiving classroom lectures and teaching in English language. It is very common to hear reckless responses like this, because most of them are ignorant of the TOEFL test content and structure. Little wonder, students in this category fumble at the test and they end up failing the exam.
2. Faulty/Weak Background in Classroom English Language Learning/Studies: Because English language is not the native language (mother tongue) of most foreign students, there is a high possibility that, they may not have a strong and solid foundation in the rudiments of English language. Such a weak background will definitely reflect on the student’s performance at the examination, especially the speaking and writing sections.
3. Incoherent English Language Communication Skills: A large number of foreign students usually experience difficulties in expressing themselves. They are most times unable to express their personal ideas clearly and coherently in verbal/spoken English. When they speak, they do so with great difficulty and there are usually lots of noticeable distortions in their statements and sentences. This can be very embarrassing, especially when their recorded speeches have to be replayed for test raters. Their diction and accent can also be a major hindrance.
4. Punctuations Problems: These problems come to the open during the writing section. Many candidates do not know how and when to apply paragraphs, commas, quotation marks, question marks, capital letters, e.t.c. Tests raters are easily discourage and turned off when they come across badly punctuated essays. It’s like you driving a rickety car on a bumpy road, the experience will definitely not be pleasant.
5. Inability to Familiarize with the QWERTY Keyboard and Lack of Proper Understanding of Its Layout and Structure: The QWERTY keyboard is an important hardware device used for the TOEFL test, a student who is not familiar with it might have difficulties in typing. Such students will waste much of his/her time trying to find alphabets on the keyboard. As most students know, the TOEFL exam clock/timer will continue to tick away and this will eventually affect the student’s composure and response delivery in the writing section.
6. Technical Issues that sometimes arise at the Test Centers: There have been reported cases of poor facility and equipment management/maintenance by Test Center Owners/Administrators (TCAs). We have heard and seen cases of malfunctioning computer systems, faulty earphones and microphones, abrupt power outage, internet server breakdown due to unreliable internet service providers or bad weather amongst other issues. Problems like this more often than not, dampen the morale, self-confidence and enthusiasm of the test takers.
7. Unnecessary Apprehension: Some students, by nature of their upbringing and the environment in which they find themselves are not inclined to computer hardware and the technology behind its operation, so they become confused on the exam day regarding the use of the computer systems. Such students usually find it difficult navigating the test screen. This kind of feeling plunges them into a state of anxiety.
8. Bad Management of Test/Examination Time: A good management of time is required of a serious test taker. The TOEFL test is time bounded, so every test taker must be conscious of this and work towards finishing within the allotted time for the test. Unnecessary slowness should be dispelled. The TOEFL test requires smartness and alertness.
9. Carelessness and Nonchalant Attitude of Students towards the Test: It is very important for every TOEFL test taker to plan his examination day seriously. Do not fix a major appointment for this day. Lateness to the center is not encouraged as it could jeopardize your chances of scoring high in the test. If you are required to take a long trip to the test center, please create enough time to arrive early at the test center. Most students who get to their test centers after the scheduled time/ check-in time usually have difficulties settling down for their exams.
10. Examination Phobia Caused by Sad Tales and Ugly Experiences of Previous Test Takers: Many test takers have been fed overtime by some lazy students of how tough and tasking the TOEFL test can be and these unpleasant stories are registered in their minds and brains. The implication of this is that students become disoriented towards the examination and this will negatively affect their performance on the test day.
11. Refusal to attend a Coaching/Training Class: It is never enough for students to prepare for the TOEFL exam alone. Experience over the years has shown that students who attend coaching/training classes perform better than their counterparts who studied on their own. Experience they say is the best teacher, why not create time to get tutelage from tutors who can help you develop intellectually and succeed on the test.
12. Inability of Students of deal thoroughly with past Exam/Test failure Experiences: Students who fail at one standardized test at some points in their lives are likely to think low of themselves when they are required to write another one again. The fact that you have failed once does not make you a failure, it only provides you with an opportunity to learn better and do better in future tests.
13. Ignorance: Some students fail their TOEFL tests because they are ignorant. They are oblivious of vital information that abound all around them because they fail to make exhaustive and extensive research about the test they intend sitting for. This is very appalling going by the number of TOEFL test forums and other relevant discussions that are available 24/7 on the internet. There are quite a number of TOEFL test prep materials available for free on the internet, try to avail yourself of that opportunity.
14. Lack Of Willingness/Enthusiasm To Succeed In The Test/Exam: For some students, the willingness and zeal required to strive for success in their examinations is missing. This could be caused by sickness, family issues, poverty, indecisions, emotional stress and many more.
15. Over-confidence: As much as this might not look like a real problem, the truth is, it has caused the failure of several intelligent students in their academic pursuit. Try to approach the exam with some level of humility and self-confidence, also do not gloat or boast until your results are out. Over-confidence in students is not encouraged rather self-confidence is the key to success.
As a professional academic consultant, I recommend that prospective TOEFL test takers and re-takers should consider the above points seriously so they can prepare well for their TOEFL exams/test and achieve high scores. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.