Rote-learning works.

Everyone knows that motivation helps you achieve your goals. Looks like children’s math ability partly depends on their motivations. Besides, according to a recent TIME magazine article,

As for study strategies, those who said they tried to forge connections between mathematical ideas typically improved faster than kids who employed more cursory rote-learning techniques.

This research shows the importance of connecting things in the brain. Or maybe it shows the futility of rote-learning.
I understand this especially as far as educators are concerned. They abhor rote-learning. I read quite a few books on learning a foreign language written by scholars worldwide, but I found virtually no one person pointing out the importance of this mechanical memorization. I know.
What I want to say here, however, is that those TOEFL learners who need the score as soon as possible should not believe this very “sound” and “ideal” way of learning. The above article refers only to the general improvement of children’s ability, but exactly what are you aiming at? 
It is important to set a long-term goal, for sure, but that will not get you the required score. The most effective, tested and proven, way of realizing this short-term goal is to cram as much knowledge and as many test-taking strategies as you possibly can.
You may have to store in your hippocampus as many topics and episodes that you can discuss in the speaking section.
You will have to learn abstract words that you could not learn through experience like “sublimation.”
You will have to learn to correctly spell “Australopithecus” so that you can use it in the writing section.
It takes almost forever to learn all these by connecting to your experience in the real world. Rote-learning can reduce the amount of time necessary to learn them.
Haven’t you realized this phenomenon where you can understand a certain idea not because you tried to connect it to something you already know, but because you memorized it?
My understanding is that mechanical memorization helps your understanding. Come to think of it, what you are learning for the TOEFL test is all for the academic life when you go to America. That’s the basis on which to enjoy your campus life, to make friends, and to achieve your academic goals. Without the process of memorization, I doubt these goals will be achieved within the time allowed for you. 
As far as the TOEFL is concerned, time management is everything. Manage time well. One learning strategy you should take for that purpose is rote-learning.

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