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Debrief: TOEFT iBT 102 -> 111 in a month

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Debrief: TOEFT iBT 102 -> 111 in a month [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2013, 22:11
Hey everyone,

I took my TOEFL on 17th November 2013 and scored a disheartening 102 (R: 20, L: 27, S: 26, W: 29)
Due to the extremely low score in reading, I decided to take up the test again. Luckily I found a slot for the 15th December 2013 and scored a 111 (R: 26, L: 28, S: 28, W: 29)

P.S: I'm unable to post URLs or YouTube links since this is my first post in the forum.

Reading section:
I am simultaneously preparing for the GMAT as well, so I assumed the RC section would go smoothly in the TOEFL since the level of complexity is much lower for the TOEFL RCs.
But one big learning for me was that the GMAT RC strategies CANT be applied for TOEFL. The TOEFL requires you to skim through the passages, while the GMAT has different strategies altogether.
See the introductory video on YouTube "TOEFL Reading Tricks, Tips, & Strategy" by notefull's Joseph Miranda
I encourage you to buy a study program from notefull for the reading section if this is your weakest section. They know what they are teaching and this will definitely help you get the maximum score in reading. The programs are extremely affordable as well. And they require only 20-24 hours worth of effort.

Half an hour before entering the test centre, I stumbled upon this video on how to tackle the summary chart question - Youtube "TOEFL iBT Reading section Skills (Summary Chart Questions) by Hassan Naderi". These questions have the most weightage compared to the rest and this video tells you exactly how you can get those questions right.

Listening section:
If you have the profile of a typical Indian IT person, this section should be easy for you.
There are three section and each section has 1 conversation and 1 lecture. The questions are pretty straightforward, but the main challenge is to be patient and not lose focus for the 6 conversations/lectures that you're going to be hearing. I prefer to write down notes extensively in order to follow the lectures and conversations - this will really help you concentrate.
Make sure your pencils are sharp before this section starts and if you plan on writing down most stuff you hear, like me.

Speaking section:
I had the notion that this section would be the hardest, but thanks to Notefull and Joseph Miranda who is an excellent coach for this section and reading! Please follow his channel on YouTube - notefulldotcom. Watch all of his videos. Blindly follow whatever he says. This guy really knows what he's saying. Lastly, practice. Nothing will help you more than good practice. Watch sample questions on YouTube by ouliogroove. Try to answer them on your own and then listen to his answers to gain perspective and shape your thought process.

Writing:
For this section also, I saw just one video that Joseph has uploaded on YouTube and followed everything he said. It got me a 29. By refining your thoughts and using better grammar/vocabulary maybe, you can easily hit a 30 in this section. Read the agree/disagree type of questions carefully and write as much as you can. The more you write, the more you score.

All said, I genuinely think about 3-4 days are sufficient to practice for TOEFL. Don't study one section and ignore the other. Nothing hurts more than a skewed score.

Exam day experience:
I booked my slot at the Pro-metric Centre in Bangalore at Prestige Shantiniketan, ITPL, both times. The test centre is really good and the staff there is extremely helpful.
On the day of my first attempt, there was a huge rush. Lot of students were taking TOEFL that day and the security checks took almost 30-40 minutes. So, be early.
On the day of my second attempt, however, there was no rush at all. But the 30-40 minutes I had after reaching there helped me look up some more videos on YouTube for the reading section, which really helped during the exam.
At the centre, you are handed over a pad to write/sign the declaration and you'll be given a locker key which is also your ID for the day. A-12, B-13, etc. They'll call you out according to your locker numbers and you'll be sent in one by one. The lockers are pretty convenient and of a good size. You can keep your bag, etc. They'll frisk you and you'll be escorted to your lab by the staff. You'll be handed the scratch-pad and 2 pencils after your picture is taken, etc.

Tips for the day of the exam:
Have a good nights sleep and breakfast, take your passport/ID with you. Reach the centre 30-40 minutes early. I didn't carry any food. Water-coolers are available there.
Don't be in a rush to enter the centre. Try to be in the middle. Mostly they make sure that while you are in the speaking section, others around you are in the listening and vice versa. But try to be a little smart yourself and plan your entry into the centre accordingly.
In the break between the listening and speaking section, I just drank 2 glasses of water. I didn't want to eating anything in the break since the taste would be distracting. The same security checks are repeated each time you exit and re-enter your lab. So, keep that in mind and don't waste a lot of time in the break. I went back to my seat and waited out for 5 minutes, calmed myself down and recalled all the templates for speaking that Joseph swears by. That really really helps.

In conclusion, I'll just repeat what I said - Follow Joseph Miranda's and notefull's techniques blindly. Spend on their courses, if you have the time. It'll definitely save you the second attempt fees.

Good luck, guys. Hope this helps. Please feel free to DM/post here if you have any queries.
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Debrief: TOEFT iBT 102 -> 111 in a month   [#permalink] 27 Dec 2013, 22:11
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Debrief: TOEFT iBT 102 -> 111 in a month

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