Beat the Test.

November 12, 2007

Be fast!

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 12:04 pm

You are beginning the speaking section. It is question #1, a personal choice independent speaking.

As soon as the question comes into view, begin to read it. Ignore the speaker reading the question — reading yourself is much faster You should have a pencil in hand, and should be ready to jot down ideas as fast as you  can.

Don’t be sluggish. Snap into action. Check out these Japanese abacus geniuses as they begin their test, and try to do the same on the TOEFL.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=EueFhYZ4HxI

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October 22, 2007

How many times should one write the TOEFL?

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 12:19 pm

It’s frustrating to see most of my already overworked students here in Seoul writing the TOEFL over and over — many of them taking the test 4 times or more — in the hopes of getting the highest mark possible.

What makes it even more frustrating is that some students are writing the test without being fully prepared for it. They think that experiencing the real test multiple times is the way to a high score. It is not. It is simply a waste of time and money, an unnecessary stress, and a very ineffective way to go about getting a high score.

Students, here is some valuable advice: do not write the test unless you fully understand all the question types and are prepared for each one.

Don’t understand the 10 reading questions? Don’t take the test. It’s not worth it just for the experience. You can learn far more by simply studying for a while longer at a test prep academy or with a qualified tutor. We know the test, and how to beat it. Listen to us, and we can guarantee you a higher mark.

Of course, even students who do have a deep understanding of the test sometimes do not achieve the mark that they were reaching for. So it is understandable that sometimes students will write the test more than once. But these students should do so only after developing a thorough knowledge of the test.

Offbeat TOEFL questions

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 8:14 am

These aren’t real questions, but they’re TOEFL-style, and good for practicing brainstorming! 

1. Free Choice

  • What’s your favorite possession?
  • Your house is on fire. What would you save, and why?
  • Imagine the world was only one color. Which color would you like it to be, and why?
  • I’m a genie. You have 3 wishes. What are they, and why?

2. Paired choice

  • Would you rather be unable to stand, or unable to sit?
  • Would you rather be unable to leave your house, or unable to leave your car?
  • Would you rather live in Seoul or Bundang?
  • Which 방 is better: 노래방 or PC방?
  • Would you rather be blind or deaf?
  • Would you rather study English or Japanese?
  • Would you rather study TOEFL or jump off a cliff?
  • Would you rather be eaten by ants or lions?
  • Would you rather die or kill for someone?
  • Would you rather be a dog or a cat?
  • Would you rather lose your cell phone or internet connection?
  • Would you rather shave your head or your eyebrows?
  • Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island alone, or with someone you hate?
  • Would you rather be two feet taller or shorter?

October 15, 2007

About the TOEFL

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 3:06 am

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) measures the ability of nonnative speakers of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings.The TOEFL began as a paper-based (PBT) and computer-based (CBT) test. However, the CBT is no longer offered — the last administration of TOEFL CBT was on September 30, 2006 — and the PBT is being phased out. The TOEFL is now exclusively presented as an internet-based test (iBT)The TOEFL iBT

The TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The test helps students demonstrate that they have the English skills needed for success. The TOEFL iBT also emphasizes integrated skills and provides better information to institutions about students’ ability to communicate in an academic setting and their readiness for academic coursework.

Why Take the TOEFL?

Most people take the TOEFL test as a prerequisite for admission into colleges and universities where English is used or required. In addition, many government, licensing, and certification agencies and exchange and scholarship programs use TOEFL scores to evaluate the English proficiency of people for whom English is not their native language.

Who Should Take the TOEFL?

Nonnative English speakers at the 11th-grade level or above should take the TOEFL to provide evidence of their English proficiency before beginning academic work. The test content is considered too difficult for students below 11th grade.

Many institutions report that they frequently do not require TOEFL scores of certain kinds of international applicants. These include:

  • nonnative speakers who hold degrees or diplomas from postsecondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g., the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand)
  • nonnative speakers who have successfully completed at least a two-year course of study in which English was the language of instruction
  • transfer students from institutions in the United States or Canada whose academic course work was favorably evaluated in relation to its demands and duration
  • nonnative speakers who have taken the TOEFL within the past two years
  • nonnative speakers who have successfully pursued academic work at schools where English was the language of instruction in an English-speaking country for a specified period, generally two years

Students should contact their prospective institutions directly concerning their specific admission requirements.

Where Can People Take the Test?

The TOEFL is offered in 180 countries around the world at official testing centers, as well as institutional locations such as colleges and universities.

Who Accepts TOEFL Scores?

More than 6,000 colleges, universities, and licensing agencies in 110 countries accept TOEFL scores.

October 14, 2007

Complete Structure of the TOEFL iBT

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 6:23 pm

1. Reading

Time: 60-100 minutes
Material: 3-5 academic readings, 600-700 words per reading
Questions: 12-14 questions per reading, 36-70 questions total
Question Types (no order):

1. Details
2. Negative Details
3. Vocabulary
4. Inference
5. Reference
6. Author’s Purpose/Method/Opinion
7. Sentence Simplification
8. Insert Text
9. Fill-in-a-Chart
10. Summary

2. Listening

Time: 60 to 90 minutes
Material: 4-6 university lectures (up to 7 min.), 2-3 student conversations (up to 3 min.)
Questions: 5 questions per conversation, 6 questions per lecture
Question Types (no order):

1.  Main Idea
2.  Details
3.  Purpose and attitude
4.  Prediction and inference
5.  Categorizing information
6.  Summarizing a process

(Mandatory Break – 10 minutes)

3. Speaking

Time: 20 minutes
Question Types (in order):

Independent Speaking— Preparation 15 s. / Response: 45 s.

1. Personal Preference                    
2. Paired Choice

Integrated Reading + Writing + Speaking — Preparation: 30 s. / Response: 60 s.

3. Announcement  (conversation)
4. General/Specific  (lecture)

Integrated Listening + Speaking –– Preparation: 20 s. / Response: 60 s.

5. Problem/Solution/Opinion  (conversation)
6. Summary  (lecture)

4. Writing

Time: 50 minutes
Question Types (in order):

1. Integrated Reading + Listening + Writing — 20 minutes, approx. 200 words
2. Independent Writing — 30 minutes, approx. 300 words
 
_______________________________________
TOTAL TEST TIME: 3 hrs 10 min – 4hrs 20 min          
       

Complete Structure of the TOEFL iBT

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 6:20 pm

 1. Reading

Time: 60-100 minutes
Material: 3-5 academic readings, 600-700 words per reading
Questions: 12-14 questions per reading, 36-70 questions total
Question Types (no order):

1. Details
2. Negative Details
3. Vocabulary
4. Inference
5. Reference
6. Author’s Purpose/Method/Opinion
7. Sentence Simplification
8. Insert Text
9. Fill-in-a-Chart
10. Summary

2. Listening

Time: 60 to 90 minutes
Material: 4-6 university lectures (up to 7 min.), 2-3 student conversations (up to 3 min.)
Questions: 5 questions per conversation, 6 questions per lecture
Question Types (no order):

1.  Main Idea
2.  Details
3.  Purpose and attitude
4.  Prediction and inference
5.  Categorizing information
6.  Summarizing a process

(Mandatory Break – 10 minutes)

3. Speaking

Time: 20 minutes
Question Types (in order):

Independent Speaking— Preparation 15 s. / Response: 45 s.)

1. Personal Preference                    
2. Paired Choice

Integrated Reading + Writing + Speaking — Preparation: 30 s. / Response: 60 s.)

3. Announcement  (conversation)
4. General/Specific  (lecture)

Integrated Listening + Speaking –– Preparation: 20 s. / Response: 60 s.

5. Problem/Solution/Opinion  (conversation)
6. Summary  (lecture)

4. Writing

Time: 50 minutes
Question Types (in order):

1. Integrated (Reading + Listening + Writing) — 20 minutes, approx. 200 words
2. Independent (Writing) — 30 minutes, approx. 300 words
 

____________________________________
TOTAL TEST TIME: 3 hrs 10 min – 4hrs 20 min          
       

Awesome shooting game to improve typing

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 6:27 am

This is actually a pretty fun and well-designed game. Type to shoot the words as they come towards you.

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/games/play/41368/

July 25, 2007

How to attack the General/Specific question

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 2:23 am

The best way I’ve found to do the General/Specific question is by making a chart with the reading and listening and then matching together all the related points. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: While reading the passage, outline the main idea and details on the left half of your note-taking paper.

Step 2: Predict what the listening will be about. It will be a specific example of something in the reading – predict what that thing will be.

Step 3: Take notes from the listening on the right half of your paper across from your reading outline. Listen especially for how the things mentioned in the listening are examples of the general kind of thing mentioned in the reading. There could be from 2-5 different points to support this.

Step 4. When the listening is over, plan with your notes by drawing lines connecting the information in the reading and listening. Connect the specific thing in the listening to the general thing in the reading. Then draw lines connecting all the 2-5 points of support that show how it’s a specific example.

Step 5: In your 1-minute speech, first briefly explain the general thing being mentioned in the reading. Then explain the specific thing the professor was talking about, and list all the reasons that it is a specific example of the thing in the reading. Use transitions (first, second, as well, additionally, etc.) between reasons to strengthen your structure. Throughout your speaking, use the language of examples (such as: this is a typical example of ________ because…) to strengthen the connection. A summary of the connection at the end is a good idea as well.

July 22, 2007

Skimming and Scanning

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 1:58 pm

“Reading Section” isn’t a very good name. Are you really supposed to read that entire 700-word passage?

Not at all! In fact, if you did, you would probably run out of time. You only have 20 minutes for both the article and the 12-14 questions that follow.

So if you don’t read, what do you do? Just look at the questions first to save time? Not quite. It’ll be easier and faster to get the answers right if you know a little bit about the passage first. The best way to attack the iBT reading is through the 2-part process of skimming and scanning.

PART 1: SKIMMING The first thing you do when you get to the first reading is to skim it – look quickly through it for the main idea and organization.

  • Skimming should take about 3 minutes or less.
  • First look at the title to see the main topic of the passage
  • Also look at the picture on the screen for any info it may give you.
  • Next look at the important areas of the passage for the main idea:
    • The introduction (first sentence of the first paragraph)
    • The thesis (last sentence of first paragraph)
    • Topic sentences (the first line of each body paragraph)
    • The conclusion (first and last sentences of final paragraph)
  • On your note paper, make a very rough outline that summarizes the main idea of each paragraph in a few words. Do not spend too much time on this – you’re just trying to feel the basic idea behind the reading.
  • When skimming, also watch out for transition words that change the direction of the paragraph, such as however, on the other hand, still, despite, whereas, although, etc. If you just read the topic sentence, and miss these words, you might miss the main idea.
  • Keep your eye out for major examples as well. Knowing where they are will make answering the questions much quicker.
  • When you are done skimming, hopefully you will see the main idea, the main details, and the organization of the essay (chronological, comparison/contrast, cause and effect, etc). If you don’t see everything, though, don’t worry – just continue with the questions after about 3 minutes.
  • It’s important to understand that you possibly won’t understand a large part of the reading after skimming. That’s no problem. To get a perfect score you do not need to understand the passage very clearly. You just need to be deadly fast at hunting for specific information.

PART 2: SCANNING

After you finish skimming, you immediately begin scanning – quickly hunting through the passage to find answers to the questions.

  • First, choose a key word or two from the question to scan for in the passage.
    • It should take you no longer than a few seconds to locate it.
    • Very often these key words will not be there, but their synonyms will – make sure your vocabulary is strong enough for you to recognize them.
  • When you have found these key words, carefully read that full sentence to look for the answer to the question.
    • For some questions, you may have to read 1 or 2 sentences before or after the key words
    • The information that you read should give you enough information to either find the right answer, or at least eliminate wrong answer choices.
  • Continue solving all 12-14 questions this way.
  • Your outlining that you did when skimming should help you to scan for information faster, as it will have given you understanding of the passage’s structure.

July 10, 2007

Criticism of the TOEFL

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatthetest @ 5:12 am

A Shortcoming in the TOEFL
And how you can exploit it to score high

One major criticism of the TOEFL is the fact that native speakers who take the test often get mediocre marks.

 

This means the TOEFL is not really an accurate measure of how well one speaks English. If it were, native speakers would consistently get very high scores, right?

 

Instead, the TOEFL in many ways is more a test of how familiar students are with the very formulaic structure of the iBT, and how well they can think quickly and under pressure.

 

While this is on one hand a bad thing, it could actually be a very good thing for test takers. It means that even students with a low level of English can get a high score by studying the common patterns in the test.

 

As you study more and more, you will increasingly notice patterns in questions and answers. Eventually, you’ll be able to predict questions, know the patterns for answering them ahead of time, know exactly where to look for the right information – you’ll see the TOEFL just like Neo sees the Matrix. Seriously. I’ve been teaching this test for years, and that’s exactly how I feel. It’s one big pattern.

 

Usually it takes many months of practice for a student to understand the test enough to attempt it and get a high score. My goal is to provide you will ALL of the patterns, presented in a very organized manner, in order to greatly reduce the amount of time you need to study.

 

I want you to beat this test. I want you to succeed. I want you to become a confident English speaker armed not only with skills to ace the TOEFL, but also ones that you can use throughout your lifetime of speaking English.

 

If there’s anything specifically that you need, do not hesitate to leave me a comment or send me an email.

 

ROBERT.

  

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