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Joined: 19 Feb 2010
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I took the exam 2 weeks ago, and got the results last Tuesday. I'm actually happy because after the exam I was feeling a little down, I thought it went really horrible, so the score kind of surprised me.
I got 106/120 broken into:
I prepared reading a book that came with a CD that my wife used to prep for the exam 5 years ago. It was actually a mistake since the Computer Based Test is different than the Internet Based Test. The CBT had few passages for the reading, it had something like Sentence Correction of the GMAT (focused on grammar), and the listening section had many very short conversations. So I thing that the IBT is much more difficult.
The last week I tried to memorize the templates for the speaking section. I didn't practice much though. And I memorized a template for the writing section. I also practiced my typing skills to type at a good speed.
The Reading section went not so well. I got the first passage with 20 min limit, and during the whole 20 minutes a girl had trouble with the microphones (they test the mics 2 times, at the beginning of the test and right before the speaking section again). She kept describing the city she lives in, each try louder and louder. I couldn't focus during the whole passage. I had read about taking earplugs, but completely forgot them. I actually feel comfortable with reading comprehension, but the TOEFL passages are a bit longer than those of the GMAT, and since they come one after the other, it gets too boring. After the first passage, I got 2 more passages with 40 minutes limit. After finishing them, I though: good, now listening next. But on the screen it appeared another 2 passages with 40 minutes. It kind of put a heavy load on my spirit. I struggled with the timing in the first 2 passages, the 3rd and 4th did actually really well, but the last passage was really heavy and the last question was more demanding than the last question of the previous passages, and could not answer it completely (I had to drag sentences in different categories).
The Listening section went quite well. I started taking notes in the first lectures and conversations, but since I rarely write by hand I was too slow and could not keep up listening, so I stopped and just listened from the 3rd conversation onwards. I think I did well and was quite satisfied with my performance, except that I lost my focus in the middle of a lecture and screwed several answers.
The Speaking section was the worst. I took a short break and quickly returned and wrote down the templates on the scratch paper. Right from the first question I was not able to finish my speech on time. I had trouble with the timing while practicing, so you need to make sure you can answer the question comfortably in the few seconds you have for that. For the second question I was still talking about the first reason when the timer stopped, so I got really nervous and while I did better on a couple of questions afterwards, I still felt like I was screwed.
Finally, the Writing section came, and as soon as I could start typing I entered the template I memorized. I added the necessary sentences and wrote quite a lot, around 340 words for the 1st essay. I was careful to take good notes during the lecture, since it's key to prepare a good essay. The second essay was easier for me, and wrote almost 500 words. I was typing extremely fast so I had plenty of time to review and correct typos and change a couple of words in some places.
Overall, I think that it's not a difficult exam. If we had a free software to practice then most people would perform better in the first attempt. I think that my worst mistake was my preparation. During the last week I saw the Cambridge book and I wished I could have gone through all of it building up each skill. But I also think that retaking the exam without further preparation I could improve at least 1 point in each of the three first sections now knowing how the test works. So it's very important to prepare with the right materials.
Well, I wish all of you who are going to take the test soon good luck in getting the score you need or want.