So I got finally got my TOFEL Score. I took the test on 28th December.
Trust me 10 days before the exam I didnt even know what all sections were there in TOFEL or even the format of the exam; so basically I started from an absolute scratch. I would try to take you through my detailed preparation (so to speak
) just to drive home the point:Dont take stress, its relatively easy
My 1 week Journey:So, how did I start?
ets.org/tofel and gmatclub were my first picks. Links by Resh http://gmatclub.com/forum/toefl-instructional-videos-speaking-writing-very-useful-100611.html
and by rid82 http://gmatclub.com/forum/everything-you-need-to-prepare-for-the-toefl-100641.html
were very helpful. The idea was to understand how difficult the exam is going to be and whether I am going have enough time to prepare for the test. Reading the exam format on ets.org helped in understand what I was dealing with and gmatclub usual success stories were a booster that people have done wonders in 2 days So when did I finally start
Honestly speaking it was Monday
(my exam being on Saturday of the same week) I was still very causal about it. I had a hectic day in office and I returned very late in night. I was exhausted from work so I just looked around in forums (GC and Googled few others) reading what to expect. I got hold of an effective website Notefull.com who were one of the pioneers in tofel coaching. I pretty much slept after that. So my day's effective outcome was a mere website and how much they charged for a comprehensive course (1-step TOEFL Mastery - 36$) (I thought, "more $$s added to my credit card bill
: began and ended with hectic office work again and another late night in office. I was feeling a bit anxious now. Just 3 days remained. Out of impulse and sheer desperation, I registered in notefull's 1-step program and thought that will relieve some desperation. After all it was just 36$ and I would have some sorta structure to follow.Wednesday
: Thank god was a holiday (Merry Christmas). I got up early and started with notefull's reading section. Completed the reading section within 4.5 hours. (with my GMAT prep behind my back, I really didn't feel Reading Section was HUGE challenge for me;
I have seen tougher passages with tougher inference questions). Then I started with speaking section. So called toughest section of TOFEL (I dont think so, trust me). Notefull gave me useful consolidated insights. They have templates to follow which I tried to learn and tried to by heart within half a day, but then who was I fooling.
I got through Speaking section 1 and 2, practicing a couple of mocks (15-20 mocks on different but easy topics) , by Wednesday night, I was mentally exhausted and I was falling well behind the Time. Thursday
: I bunked office (Sir, I have a fever owing to change of weather, cant come to office
) and was prepared to battle it out with speaking section again. I practiced section 1 and 2 again, listened to the templates described, tried memorizing it and re-did the mocks with easy topics from previous night. The idea was to deliver that perfect 45 seconds.
I succeeded a couple of times but mostly I faltered either with my pronunciation or with my grammar or mostly with my thought process. By afternoon after building quite a bit of frustration within myself, I started with sub section 3 and 4. Again tried to understand template and did 15-20 mocks. Re-did the one's in which I faltered badly. Again the idea was to get to some sorta perfection. It was not coming easy.
Frustrated, I moved down to last two subsections 5 and 6 which I felt were comparatively easier than the others as it was mostly reporting the information where I didnt have to think through a thought. I slept late in night.Friday
: Bunked office again
(Hi, Fever continues.., cant come to office
) I started with speaking section 1 and 2 again and some where I was feeling a touch comfortable. I was able to gather few common thoughts based on the topics generally asked such as school life, college life, friends, family, trips etc. I was zeroing on to the specific examples sooner. I didnt feel like taking notes in 15secs but was trying to organize my thoughts better because I felt I was faster this way. Only if I could hold my thoughts and 1-2 points with examples which I thought of, I should be able to cook a story and supplement them to Notefull's templates.
I was feeling comfortable with section 3,4 5 and 6th questions too. I practice mocks from different sites. I searched Youtube for sample tofel speaking section practices and I got a bunch of helpful stuffs posted by "ouliogroove". Though his posts are old, I felt they were extremely relevant while preparing and mastering the templates. I used an online voice recorder and timer to simulate test environment and hear my response. It was extremely helpful as I learnt bunch of stuffs which were going wrong while I was speaking. In night, I went through writing section and Listening section remaining in Notefull's course,briskly, took note of important points, did a few mocks and revised all the templates of speaking section and did a 1-2 mocks from each. I was done with my prep. (Though I was feeling a touch scared of speaking section.)Saturday
: THE D DAY.
Started with reading section (42 questions in 60mins); I never felt challenged by Reading section because of my GMAT preps and I knew that I dont have to read the complete passage but just have to skim through it and jump to questions.
It was more a time challenge (although comfortable) than reading challenge. I was over all satisfied with my answers and finished with just 3mins remaining on the clock.
Listening section: I was kinda caught off guard since I wasn't aware that Listening section lasted for more than 30mins. (I missed it as never gave any full mocks apart from free sample ets test
). But I was calm and again i didnt feel challenged since I have been watching English movies since I was 11.
. Though I felt the last subsection in listening was touch difficult than the previous two. I might have lost my marks there as I was bored listening to philosophy lectures and taking notes. :D
<10mins break: drank 4 glasses of water; came back to my seat 4mins before the break; wrote down all the templates I learnt and I was set>
Speaking section: I feel I started poorly almost screwing my 1st question's response. I could have added more content but I just couldnt think of more thoughts. Infact I winded up 1st question well before 45secs (38-39s or so). So believe its not how much you say, its about how comfortable you are while speaking. 1st and 2nd questions went within 2mins and I was like "wait, what just happened".
3rd and 4th were questions where I felt I nailed it (may be since I had the templates infront of my eyes and I personally didnt have to think any points of my own). I was now getting more confident going into 5th and 6th. Again felt like i nailed them again because I felt reporting bunch of information is easier than rest.
Speaking section came and went like a breeze. I just finished the so called most difficult hurdle.
Writing: It was relatively easy and I was feeling very relaxed as I knew the exam has,over all, gone well and I just have to add finishing touches now. Writing Section 1 was pretty straight forward and posed no hurdles. Writing section 2 was all about expressing myself. I dint follow any template. Just wrote whatever I felt about the topic following no particular template. I do commit spelling miskates often while typing
and hence might have lost 1 point there.
I remember I wrote a 530+ words essay. A long rant it was
Overall, when I look back, I effectively prepared for only 3 days.
Did notefull course help? Yes, it did help.The Templates came in handy and relaxed me a bit during the exam as I knew what to expect and how to do handle stuffs. But I had very less time to master them. Infact for certain answers I didnt even follow the templates as my thoughts wandered into different dimensions; and that actually helped in personalizing the response and not be robotic following a fixed pattern or way to respond. So it does not matter if you follow the templates or not, as long as you dont speak crap and are relaxed and fluent
while you speak. I guess thats the mantra. I wasnot anywhere close to perfect
but I just kept myself calm and the rest just followed.
And personally I feel, its about how comfortable you are with different aspects of test. For me that was the trick. 3 sections out of 4 did not pose a challenge which would scare me to death :D
Speaking section did scare me for a bit but during the exam i kept saying one thing "Be calm and relaxed, deep breaths..."
Hope this monologue helps some one who is still looking to start preparations and thinking where to begin or wondering is he late to start preparations?
Citius, Altius, Fortius