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117 in 1 week... my debrief

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117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 00:39
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Hi friends,
Writing a debrief for TOEFL is a little difficult than it is for GMAT as there's no point writing a debrief without mentioning the scores and ETS declares the scores only after 10 days or so. Anyways, I got my scores yesterday and so here I am, sharing with you all my experiences of preparing for and performing in the TOEFL.
I took my GMAT on 12/11/2010 (Friday) and started preparing for TOEFL on Saturday the 13th! First, I registered for the exam on the ETS website and selected 21/11/2010 as the exam date. I feel it is better if you know a specific date on which you are going to take the test as you can plan your preparations accordingly. Next, I visited the TOEFL forum in gmatclub.com and read some of the articles in details, including the replies. In this context, I feel it is imperative that you go through the threads by rid82 namely “Everything You Need to Prepare for the TOEFL” and “TOEFL Speaking and Writing templates “. Also, do not forget to download the tips for TOEFL offered by ETS in their website. It is free, and gives you a comprehensive description of all the sections in the test. There is a chance that you might run out of patience and want to get into the real “action” of preparation( if you know what I mean), but it will only take about 2-3 hours to do all this, and once completed you will in all probability know all there is to know about the test.
I was most relaxed about the writing and reading part. It was partly because I had taken the GMAT only a few days back and knew all the templates by heart, and partly because in I knew that in TOEFL I will be getting more time to think and easier topics to write on. Also, the questions for RC are very straight forward and easier to answer than in GMAT. The only practice I did was by watching a few Hollywood movies (without subtitles :-D !) and making sure I can understand the gist of something being spoken about, since listening would be needed in the first essay. If you do not understand the templates I am talking about, visit the AWA forum in this website and go through the templates given by Chineseburned. Even if you write only decent English with common grammatical errors, my guess is you will manage to get high scores if you follow the templates.
For listening, I downloaded the free prep material available in the ETS website. Though I was helped by a very good Apple earphone that I borrowed from my room- mate, in general I thought my comprehension abilities were good enough to follow what was being said. Other than that, there were a few listening passages that I Google helped me find and brush up my listening skills with. I think it is pertinent to mention here that I had worked in BPO for two months after college and since I had to talk to Australian customers there I was confident of doing ok with foreign accent. Also, the conversations are very easy paced and a little concentration is all you need to understand what is being said. The advice I can give you from my practical experience is that try and listen more and worry about taking down points later. Most conversations are contextual and easy to remember. Moreover, you do NOT need to remember everything. I did the mistake of concentrating on the wrong aspect and it reflected in my score as well as you’ll see later!
Speaking is the section I was worried about most. I was under the impression that following Rid82’s templates would be enough to get a good score. But when I started speaking on the topics in the downloaded material from the ETS website, I realized that I was nowhere near as good as I supposed myself to be( :( !) ! So, first thing I did was download about 100 speaking topics (mostly for the first 2 subsections) from various sources in the net. I also watched the immensely helpful videos in TOEFL Instructional videos - Speaking & Writing Very useful by resh in this forum. Then, with the help of my colleagues’ cell phones (stopwatch) and my cell phone (recorder) I started speaking on the various and even random topics (for example: my favorite manager! :shock: ). I was so concerned that I spoke in office and even in the bathroom (wonder what my roommate would have thought! :P ). In due course, I adopted my own speaking templates; modifications of the originals by rid82! Even with the practice, I never could do as well as I hoped, but nevertheless, I did realize the improvement within a few days. Two advices here:
1. Always practice with a stopwatch to get a hang of the time limit (would seem too less in the beginning but ok as you go on)
2. Know when to end a sentence and move on. You won’t score more for a couple of flowery adjectives and would be much better off expressing a different idea or perspective. The only practice I could manage for the last 4 subsections in speaking was by speaking on the topics in the ETS software. One last very important point, please listen carefully to the sample responses in this software. They come with individual ratings, and can be very useful to give you a realistic idea on what and how to speak.
Coming to D-Day, I reached the centre at 9 and although the exam was from 10, I saw that many people were present there already. To be honest, it is better if you reach the centre a maximum of 30 minutes before the commencement as, like I found out, sitting there and waiting for the test to begin with nothing else to do and no one willing to talk can be really boring! Anyways, after the formalities like passport check etc. they assigned me to my PC and the reading section began. The first passage was for 20 minutes, followed by 4 passages grouped in two with a time limit of 40 minutes each. The good thing was that I did not need to read the passage before attacking the questions. Also, the questions were sequential in that questions from the 2nd paragraph always followed questions from the 1st paragraph and so on; so I could easily relate first few questions to the initial paragraphs and the following questions from the end of the passages. Overall, I do not think I got more than a couple of answers wrong at most.
Listening was the part I had trouble with. The reason for that was the RC section was very time consuming and by the time the Listening section started, I was starting to lose my concentration. In fact, by the time I realized I should regain my focus, two passages had already gone. I guess I made most of the mistakes in the first two articles. The rest of the section was ok. The questions were not as straight forward as in the RCs but with proper analysis of the options the answer did ultimately stand out. That is why I think it is very important to listen and not concentrate on taking notes because with this approach the answers would seem much easier. Otherwise, even with lots of notes the answers might not seem obvious if you have not listened properly.
After the break, the speaking section started. To my surprise, the topics seemed easier than the ones I practiced. It could have been because I have practiced with so many random topics. Although, in few, I could not end as I would have liked and had to hurry to end speaking in time, I covered the points I wanted to cover and had a reasonably good feeling with this section. My advice would be to concentrate more on WHAT you say and not HOW you say it. Of course, one should have proper pronunciation etc. but all of us who have been seriously thinking about getting into schools abroad already have the requisite speaking skills. Also, if you practice speaking, these things would come automatically. Hence, the content is what you should concentrate on while practicing speaking for TOEFL.
Finally, I had the writing part. As I mentioned before this was more of a comfort zone for me and hence, frankly speaking even though I did not put in as much effort in writing the essays as I did in the AWA section of GMAT, I had a feeling I did well. I took notes for the listening passage by just writing down in short the three or so points used by the speaker to refute the points made in the article. Overall, just by following the templates and mentioning suitable points, I completed the essays well within the time limit.
After returning home, I was worried that I might get below 25 in listening and not too good in speaking too. But I was surprised when I saw my marks:
Reading: 30
Listening: 27
Speaking: 30
Writing: 30
Total: 117

Hence, my advice is that do not over emphasize the importance of the test. It is important only to judge if you can manage as a student abroad when it comes to communicating with others and since most of us can, most of us will score high in TOEFL too. What's more, ETS ignores small and insignificant mistakes while marking. So go out there and do what you have been doing since you were a kid; read, write, listen and speak. For any queries, feel free to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to help you out, although there are loads of people here who are sheer geniuses and was it not for their help, it would have been difficult for me to understand what TOEFL is even. So please visit this website often. And please consider giving some KUDOS if you like my post.
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Last edited by samidh on 09 Dec 2010, 21:50, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 00:50
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 00:54
rid82 wrote:
great debrief and congrats for your awesome score!



Thanks! :wink:

Only trying to supplement the great effort you put in everyday :-D
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 05:53
Hi! My name is Vivian, and I need to prepare myself for the TOEFL. The bad thing is, I only have two days to prepare (I found out I needed to take the test yesterday after school, started preparing today after I got home from school. I still have tomorrow and Friday. My test is on Saturday at 10:00am in Beijing)

I read through your detailed explanation of the TOEFL, and found it very useful. But I'm still a kind of in a state of confusion/frustration over how to prepare for the TOEFL, since this has all been really rushed... so I would really appreciate your help!

The reading section should be okay, I'm a fast reader. But I'm not very good at interpreting the question and choosing the best answer... and sometimes I feel like I don't understand what the article is talking about (im in 8th grade). But I feel like the time they give for reading is enough for me to get a reasonably good score.

I'm not worried about the listening section questions, but I'm really worried about the actual test taking conditions. Is it really loud with all the other people in the room? What can I do to avoid being distracted? And what do I do if I really can't hear anything?

I'm most worried about the speaking section. I speak clearly (English is my best language, after Chinese), but I'm afraid of being nervous at the test and not knowing what to say, since the prep time is so short. So I'll probably be stammering and saying a lot of 'ums' and 'likes'. Will that affect my score a lot? And I don't know how to time my response to exactly 45 seconds or whatever. Do you have any suggestions for me?

I'm not that scared of the writing section, because I like typing and writing =)

Anyways I don't know how well I will do on the TOEFL, are there any practice tests that give you a score? That would be really helpful for me. I am aiming for at least above 100. You got full marks for three of the sections, which I find really amazing.... is it really that easy? Because my mom is always telling me I really have to focus on TOEFL right now for these two days, and forget about school-work (which I don't want to do). What do you suggest?

Thank you so much!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 09:16
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vivsters wrote:
Hi! My name is Vivian, and I need to prepare myself for the TOEFL. The bad thing is, I only have two days to prepare (I found out I needed to take the test yesterday after school, started preparing today after I got home from school. I still have tomorrow and Friday. My test is on Saturday at 10:00am in Beijing)

I read through your detailed explanation of the TOEFL, and found it very useful. But I'm still a kind of in a state of confusion/frustration over how to prepare for the TOEFL, since this has all been really rushed... so I would really appreciate your help!

The reading section should be okay, I'm a fast reader. But I'm not very good at interpreting the question and choosing the best answer... and sometimes I feel like I don't understand what the article is talking about (im in 8th grade). But I feel like the time they give for reading is enough for me to get a reasonably good score.

I'm not worried about the listening section questions, but I'm really worried about the actual test taking conditions. Is it really loud with all the other people in the room? What can I do to avoid being distracted? And what do I do if I really can't hear anything?

I'm most worried about the speaking section. I speak clearly (English is my best language, after Chinese), but I'm afraid of being nervous at the test and not knowing what to say, since the prep time is so short. So I'll probably be stammering and saying a lot of 'ums' and 'likes'. Will that affect my score a lot? And I don't know how to time my response to exactly 45 seconds or whatever. Do you have any suggestions for me?

I'm not that scared of the writing section, because I like typing and writing =)

Anyways I don't know how well I will do on the TOEFL, are there any practice tests that give you a score? That would be really helpful for me. I am aiming for at least above 100. You got full marks for three of the sections, which I find really amazing.... is it really that easy? Because my mom is always telling me I really have to focus on TOEFL right now for these two days, and forget about school-work (which I don't want to do). What do you suggest?

Thank you so much!


Hi Vivian,

To be very honest I thought I managed some sort of a miracle by preparing in such a short time, but 2 days? That is just unbelievable! How come you got into this situation? Anyways, provided you are sincere enough you can still make it happen.
For reading, you do NOT have to understand the whole passage. But you do have to look smartly as the answers are provided in the passage itself. For example, the question is… why is China beautiful? In the passage it says… The beauty of China lies in its people. So the answer would be the option mentioning people. You see now what I mean by direct references? This is just a random example I gave you, but I the actual thing should not be too different. Make sure you do not become overconfident as you are a fast reader, and scan each and every line carefully till you find your answer!
For listening, no usually the test taking conditions are carefully monitored so that no test taker is disturbed. Even after putting your headset on you feel you can hear the murmur in the background, simply turn the volume up. And if you cannot hear at all, just raise your hand and notify the invigilator. But be rest assured the only way you will not be able to hear even with the volume at its maximum in your headphone is if 10 people start shouting at the top of their voices simultaneously, which is highly unlikely to happen!
For speaking, practice for these 2 days to speak on a topic for 45 seconds. Make sure you have a stopwatch with you when you practice. And also, speak short sentences. That will reduce the “um” and “you know”s in your speech. Remember, a short but smart speech is all that is required. For example, the topic is which country do you find most interesting and why? The response… I find Egypt most interesting. It is because of 2 reasons. Firstly, Egypt is a country with very ancient cultural roots. I find it intriguing to study about pharaohs and pyramids and would like to visit the country if I get the chance. Secondly, there are still undiscovered secrets in Egypt. I wish to unveil some of those when I grow up. Hence, Egypt is the country that intrigues me most. This reply would take hardly 30 seconds even if you stammer, but would probably fetch you your desired score. If you speak nearly as well as you write, you’ll breeze through. Only, make sure you know which points to mention when you are speaking. In the above example, points are ancient culture and undiscovered mysteries.
I hope this helps you. I am sorry but I am not aware of any mock TOEFL tests. Also, I would not like people to think that i socred well because the test was easy :-D ! But with the right approach you can certainly do very well! Please let me know if I can be of more help. All the best!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 17:09
samidh wrote:
:-D
vivsters wrote:
Hi! My name is Vivian, and I need to prepare myself for the TOEFL. The bad thing is, I only have two days to prepare (I found out I needed to take the test yesterday after school, started preparing today after I got home from school. I still have tomorrow and Friday. My test is on Saturday at 10:00am in Beijing)

I read through your detailed explanation of the TOEFL, and found it very useful. But I'm still a kind of in a state of confusion/frustration over how to prepare for the TOEFL, since this has all been really rushed... so I would really appreciate your help!

The reading section should be okay, I'm a fast reader. But I'm not very good at interpreting the question and choosing the best answer... and sometimes I feel like I don't understand what the article is talking about (im in 8th grade). But I feel like the time they give for reading is enough for me to get a reasonably good score.

I'm not worried about the listening section questions, but I'm really worried about the actual test taking conditions. Is it really loud with all the other people in the room? What can I do to avoid being distracted? And what do I do if I really can't hear anything?

I'm most worried about the speaking section. I speak clearly (English is my best language, after Chinese), but I'm afraid of being nervous at the test and not knowing what to say, since the prep time is so short. So I'll probably be stammering and saying a lot of 'ums' and 'likes'. Will that affect my score a lot? And I don't know how to time my response to exactly 45 seconds or whatever. Do you have any suggestions for me?

I'm not that scared of the writing section, because I like typing and writing =)

Anyways I don't know how well I will do on the TOEFL, are there any practice tests that give you a score? That would be really helpful for me. I am aiming for at least above 100. You got full marks for three of the sections, which I find really amazing.... is it really that easy? Because my mom is always telling me I really have to focus on TOEFL right now for these two days, and forget about school-work (which I don't want to do). What do you suggest?

Thank you so much!


Hi Vivian,

To be very honest I thought I managed some sort of a miracle by preparing in such a short time, but 2 days? That is just unbelievable! How come you got into this situation? Anyways, provided you are sincere enough you can still make it happen.
For reading, you do NOT have to understand the whole passage. But you do have to look smartly as the answers are provided in the passage itself. For example, the question is… why is China beautiful? In the passage it says… The beauty of China lies in its people. So the answer would be the option mentioning people. You see now what I mean by direct references? This is just a random example I gave you, but I the actual thing should not be too different. Make sure you do not become overconfident as you are a fast reader, and scan each and every line carefully till you find your answer!
For listening, no usually the test taking conditions are carefully monitored so that no test taker is disturbed. Even after putting your headset on you feel you can hear the murmur in the background, simply turn the volume up. And if you cannot hear at all, just raise your hand and notify the invigilator. But be rest assured the only way you will not be able to hear even with the volume at its maximum in your headphone is if 10 people start shouting at the top of their voices simultaneously, which is highly unlikely to happen!
For speaking, practice for these 2 days to speak on a topic for 45 seconds. Make sure you have a stopwatch with you when you practice. And also, speak short sentences. That will reduce the “um” and “you know”s in your speech. Remember, a short but smart speech is all that is required. For example, the topic is which country do you find most interesting and why? The response… I find Egypt most interesting. It is because of 2 reasons. Firstly, Egypt is a country with very ancient cultural roots. I find it intriguing to study about pharaohs and pyramids and would like to visit the country if I get the chance. Secondly, there are still undiscovered secrets in Egypt. I wish to unveil some of those when I grow up. Hence, Egypt is the country that intrigues me most. This reply would take hardly 30 seconds even if you stammer, but would probably fetch you your desired score. If you speak nearly as well as you write, you’ll breeze through. Only, make sure you know which points to mention when you are speaking. In the above example, points are ancient culture and undiscovered mysteries.
I hope this helps you. I am sorry but I am not aware of any mock TOEFL tests. Also, I would not like people to think that i socred well because the test was easy :-D ! But with the right approach you can certainly do very well! Please let me know if I can be of more help. All the best!



Thank you so much for the help! I feel a little better now.

I have one question about the scoring system though... I know they grade you like on a 1-5 or 1-4 scale, and average it for each section, but how do they convert that to the 30 point scale? Do you have to get everything 5 to get 30?
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2010, 19:43
Regarding how they score, you may find useful this post
everything-you-need-to-prepare-for-the-toefl-100641.html
Sections:
- How do they grade the Speaking section?
- How do they grade the Writing section?
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 04 Dec 2010, 05:49
Hi samidh,

Great result and excellent thread! gooood job mate ! :)
I am planning to take TOEFL in one week and advice and help would be much much appreciated :!:

I am most of all concerned with my speaking section ( my current level is 23 points out of 30). So i would like you shed some light on speaking section and your preparation

Could you please explaine me a little bit the following:
1. You said "But when I started speaking on the topics in the downloaded material from the ETS website" - could you please attach here or/and let me know where can I find "topics in the downloaded material from the ETS" - I have visited the ETS's web site but did not find those materials.

2.you said "first thing I did was download about 100 speaking topics" - could you please attach or share the link?!

3.you said "TOEFL Instructional videos - Speaking & Writing Very useful by resh" - :) sorry again , but could find this post.

4. you said "The only practice I could manage for the last 4 subsections in speaking was by speaking on the topics in the ETS software. " - So is it another software for first 2 topics and 4 last topics? - if yes, please let me know where to download them/

Thank you a lot!!!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 04 Dec 2010, 06:18
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Pkit wrote:
Hi samidh,

Great result and excellent thread! gooood job mate ! :)
I am planning to take TOEFL in one week and advice and help would be much much appreciated :!:

I am most of all concerned with my speaking section ( my current level is 23 points out of 30). So i would like you shed some light on speaking section and your preparation

Could you please explaine me a little bit the following:
1. You said "But when I started speaking on the topics in the downloaded material from the ETS website" - could you please attach here or/and let me know where can I find "topics in the downloaded material from the ETS" - I have visited the ETS's web site but did not find those materials.

2.you said "first thing I did was download about 100 speaking topics" - could you please attach or share the link?!

3.you said "TOEFL Instructional videos - Speaking & Writing Very useful by resh" - :) sorry again , but could find this post.

4. you said "The only practice I could manage for the last 4 subsections in speaking was by speaking on the topics in the ETS software. " - So is it another software for first 2 topics and 4 last topics? - if yes, please let me know where to download them/

Thank you a lot!!!




Thank You Pkit!

To answer your questions:

1) Since you have your test in a week, I assume you have already registered in the ETS website. The software I was referring to is available in the ETS website as free downloadable material. It has one example for each of the sub sections in the writing section. You will also find there some scored sample responses, which will give you a very good idea on the type of responses they want. If at all you do not find it there, try google and it is sure to come up. I am sorry but I do not remember how I navigated to that page, but I can assure you that it was in the ETS website itself.

2) Again, I googled them out. There are loads of material in the net, and if you give about 15 minutes on the net, I am sure you will find them too. http://global-english.lefora.com/2008/0 ... -open-cho/ this is one link. I am also attaching a PDF where you will get some help. I do not remember its source.

3) toefl-instructional-videos-speaking-writing-very-useful-100611.html

4) This is the same software referred to in the first question.
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 04 Dec 2010, 06:36
Thanks a tone mate! :)


I had thought that there is a special list list of 100 topics for TOEFL speaking provided by ETS. - I am sorry I misunderstood you! I managed to find a listening partner - native speaker so with your help and resources available here I would manage to receive at least 100 points next week.
thanks a lot!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 04 Dec 2010, 06:46
Pkit wrote:
Thanks a tone mate! :)


I had thought that there is a special list list of 100 topics for TOEFL speaking provided by ETS. - I am sorry I misunderstood you! I managed to find a listening partner - native speaker so with your help and resources available here I would manage to receive at least 100 points next week.
thanks a lot!


I am sure you'll score much more than 100. All the Best!

Btw, if you can manage the time, please provide some feedback on my chances of making it in to my target schools this year. Would really appreciate it. You will find it at profile-evaluation-can-i-make-it-105596.html
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2010, 22:09
Wow 30 out 30 on the writing section, I'm impressed!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2010, 12:02
Thank you for debrief...
I would like to ask How many word you have nearly written in the first section of the writing?
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2011, 00:13
Good job and congrats for your score!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2011, 22:42
Fairness wrote:
Thank you for debrief...
I would like to ask How many word you have nearly written in the first section of the writing?


Hi Fairness,

I did not get your question. Writing was the last section, not the first. Do you want to know how long my essays were? My essays were more or less equal in terms of the number of words. I do not remember the count exactly but it probably was around 510 for each.
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2011, 00:24
Got an interview call from Terry today. Wish me luck Friends!
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2011, 09:58
Great score and detailed debrief
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2011, 01:49
Great job and congrats for your score! :-D
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2011, 01:11
Quote:
A question was asked by me to samidh.

Many Many congratulation for highest score.

I need to get just 80 and I got 54 last year. I lost somewhat self confidence but I have already started practice from last 15 days but I could not see anything going correct for me. I am referring easiest book of TOEFL even though I am getting minimum 10-15 errors to whole reading section and I also have problem with understanding information if high level vocabulary is used according to me. I have to read paragraph twice and I always choose wrong answer in vocabulary types of question. In listening, I can see somewhat improvement but in reading, I am little bit disappointed. I also have problem with idea generation which make me suffering from speaking and writing sections. Please suggest something for me. Today is 17th march and planning to 26th March because I have no more time. If I waste even a single day, it will lead to a big loss to me at the end while sending application.

Please reply
waiting for reply.

Thanking You

He replied
Hi,

I have a few tips for you.

For writing and speaking, please follow the templates given in the forums. if you have trouble finding them, please message rid82 and im sure she'll help you. Practice speaking and writing with those templates. It will help you immensely. but please keep on practising till your exams.

For listening and reading, i don't think it would be much of a prob. Since you are able to follow english and comprehend the meaning, it would be easier since you have to understand what is meant and just select the correct options. its not very difficult honestly, but if you are not comfortable then you can practice with some simple RC passages for GMAT.

Lastly, please work on your grammar. not very tough rules, but simple ones like "was/were is usually followed with ...ing" etc.

Do let me know for any further help. I would suggest you to post in my thread (117 in 1 week...) so that in future if people have similar problems he/she can refer to those posts for help.

All the Best!


Thanking You very very much for reply.
I will try my best to recover my self. Next time, I will post question on your thread if I have question.

One last question,
I need a person/group with whom I join for getting regular feedback on my essays and speaking responses, a mentor. Do you want me to suggest where I should put my responses to get regular feedback.????
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Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2011, 22:43
My Kudos for GURU!
Re: 117 in 1 week... my debrief   [#permalink] 06 Apr 2011, 22:43
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