Do you need to take the TOEFL? Our TOEFL Preparation Classes in Miami and Miami Beach will help you prepare for the TOEFL and feel more confident on test day. Keep reading to learn some TOEFL tips and insights,
Along with other typical language skills like reading, writing, listening and speaking, Language On Schools in Miami and Miami Beach offers some lesser known skills-development such as accent reduction for all levels and needs (e.g. acting, international business) as well as standard test preparation. One of our favorites is the TOEFL, which is sponsored, designed and administered at the site www.ets.org, a non-profit organization out of New Jersey called Educational Testing Service. This organization administers a range of tests for a range of purposes. The TOEFL test measures one’s ability to succeed in an English-speaking academic or professional environment and is accepted by some 9000 institutions world-wide.
There is a lot of great information on the ETS site but one thing you will not readily find is what TOEFL stands for, so get your pens out because here it is: Test of English as a Foreign Language. This test was first offered back in 1964 and is one of two tests widely used for the same purpose – the other being the International English Language Testing Services or IELTS. The IELTS is administered jointly by several organizations, the most notable among them being the University of Cambridge in the UK. Although the IELTS is much older than the TOEFL, both tests enjoy wide acceptance around the world by universities, vocational institutions and professional organizations.
The TOEFL has two test formats. There is an internet-based test referred to as the IBT and the PBT which is generally only given in locales that do not have internet access and which stands for – you guessed it, Paper-based test.
For our purposes, we will now speak of the IBT exclusively. It’s approximately a 4 hour test. It can be repeated after 12 days and each score is valid for 2 years. There are plenty of reasons to take the TOEFL several times, though the $160 per test price may discourage multiple attempts. Naturally, you won’t want to take the test more than 2 years in advance of needing the desired score. Each section is worth 30 points, in increments of 1, for a total possible score of 120. The four sections are reading, writing, listening and speaking.
There is an online preparation course and also hard-copy materials issued by ETS that are available for purchase to help you achieve your best score. Use these materials. The hard-copy materials are large and unwieldy but useful and full of tips. For each section, the format, type of questions and time constraints are described. There are a few other things to be aware of that will make a difference in the score you receive, besides your English.
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Today, I would like to share a few things that I have learned from helping students prepare for the TOEFL. Keep reading, I will try to keep my TOEFL tips concise, clear and most of all helpful!
Be realistic about what the stakes are in taking the test and give it an appropriate amount of time and effort. Chances are good that if you need to prepare, one week is not enough for a 4 hour test. If you cannot type well, spend some time practicing. As you move through the prep materials, use the time constraints (sometimes as little as 15 seconds) as described to execute each section; you will quickly see the areas in which you need the most refinement. The test is given regularly and small adjustments are made periodically. While vocabulary used in the test changes, there is a large percentage of 500 vocabulary words that are a constant, year by year, which are provided to you in the materials. Learning this vocabulary is something that requires only memorization and offers an excellent starting point for preparation. There is nothing more helpful than having a vocabulary to distinguish yourself in an academic or professional setting. Used judiciously, an expansive vocabulary provides credibility. Whether you are a fiction writer, doctor, tradesman or mathematician, it tells those around you that you are an accomplished learner and understand a rigorous work ethic. Not all academic settings are rigorous but one who is serious about what one does will have some idea of its value; taking on rigor for one’s own gain irrespective of setting. All those who accomplish great things, practice rigor; and so should you.
Learning the 500 vocabulary words in the prep materials will create confidence in you and move the spirit toward a positive feeling about the test, that stems from the fact that you have real control over your performance in at least some aspect of the test. The same 500 words appear repeatedly with small variation each year. It is recommended you use flash cards, whether electronic or index card. On one side should be a 7-word (maximum) definition. On the other side is a sentence using the word with the word underlined. Working with a partner, the sentence is read, leaving out the word, in order to create context for its usage. The word and its definition is the response to be given. Working with another TOEFL-taker can be fun and productive. Linking each word to your native language synonym is the best way to ensure you will remember the words even after you take the test.
You might like to read TOEFL vs. IELTS . #TurnYourLanguageOn
Answer the Prompt Accurately
Keeping with the theme of doing the things that give you the most control over your score, be sure to answer the questions that are asked. So often when we are excited in the midst of a test, particularly one that can last around four hours, we can become fatigued and overlook things that are plain as the nose on your face. Attention! Many points are lost because we do not truly answer the question asked. Answer the question that is asked, referred to as a ‘Prompt’. Learn to create notes as you hear the Prompt the first time to get the correct verb involved. Be specific about the content you provide in response – to direct the audience’s attention 1) directly toward the question and its wording and then 2) your answer, the added content. Make it a very deliberate and mechanical process so that the organization of your content and its adherence to the Prompt is impeccable.
As state above, ETS offers an array of materials to help you prepare. For each of the four sections, be sure you know what type of format is used and the type of questions involved. Some questions ask your opinion about something which allows you a free hand to answer as you wish, while others ask you to integrate several sources of information (such as a written passage and a lecture) and synthesize an answer from the two sources. The prep materials also provide example answers. When one looks at the sample answers to the questions involving synthesis of sources, one sees that the content of the answer does not stray far from the original source information. So the bottom line is, don’t invent anything too clever for those questions. Regurgitate, but do it in an intelligent and cohesive manner. It is highly likely that the IBT is graded to some large extent using computer assistance (not some former school teacher making extra money on the weekends by reading your answers). Study the sample answers to get a good idea of what is expected and do not try to be a hero. Give them what is expected, even if it is below your personal capacity. Being creative is not a good use of your time in these circumstances since you will lose time for other more important things you need to do.
One thing we can help with is basic writing. No other skill is as difficult. Keep sentences simple. Say what you believe you are saying. Put sentences in a logical order. Use the first and last sentences of each paragraph to delineate the paragraph’s role in the overall composition (an aspect of composition also useful for speed-reading). Use appropriate words and make sure the connections in your head truly create logical connections on paper that you intend to make. Sometimes the logical connections we make in our minds are fuzzy and need some refinement to really pinpoint the logic we are trying to communicate. Create and use an outline to quickly create a birds-eye view of the composition that includes everything important to the overall communication; if there are three critical parts to a solution and you write beautifully about two of them, do not expect that writing to achieve its goal. Going back to vocabulary, do not try to impress using fancy words. Instead, be like the Taoist butcher who knows exactly where to place his knife, between the joints, so the knife never dulls and the meat falls off the body on its own. A well-placed word is worth gold but a misused word, no matter how exotic and scholarly, ruins the composition and reveals a mind that is faking it. And that brings us to the most important factor of all regarding the TOEFL.
This is one thing you must bring to the table on your own. But we can help you find that place deep in your belly that ultimately will bring you conviction that you have something worthwhile to offer. Very often, the TOEFL test is taken by those who are just beginning an academic or professional career. That being the case, many of them have not found their own voice, their own value, their own mojo. Be assured that we all have something valuable to offer. Get out of the habit of looking for approval from others. Instead look rigorously at the highly regarded work of others and ask yourself why it is highly regarded. Remember that teachers can really do nothing but guide you and you, yourself, are the one who learns. This is especially important in the Speaking section of the TOEFL which measures fluency. You will not have time to hesitate and reword or correct what you have said. It must flow. Not everything that comes from your mouth will be brilliant. But there is nothing gained by stopping and starting out of fear you have said something wrong. Deliver your message confidently, whether spoken or written. The TOEFL is an opportunity for you to find your footing; having plotted your course carefully, step confidently.
Do you need to take the TOEFL? Contact Us! #TurnYourLanguageOn
Author: Eric Ferris. Eric is a teacher and musician who orignally hails from Chicago but now calls Miami and South Florida home.