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My TOEFL experience: 116/120

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My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 11:51
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I would like to share several takeaways from my TOEFL experience. Disclaimer: I am a native English speaker who attended an undergraduate program in French/English. Thus I was required to take the TOEFL. Nevertheless, I had some strategies going into the exam (wanting to score extremely well).

Reading (28/30): Practice RC content from the GMAT (MGMAT is quite difficult in my opinion) and read as much as possible - CNN.com, Economist.com, etc. The trick for this section, as mentioned by another GMATClub member, is to read the question stem first, scan the paragraph in sequential order, then find the answer. Read the second question, and so on. You will have ample time to get through this section if you are comfortable with RC passages from the GMAT.

Listening (29/30): I wrote bullet form notes and used arrows and symbols to represent relationships between ideas. For example, a "contrast" would be represented by "vs." or a consequence "--->". These little symbols helped me understand relationships between ideas from each passage. Spend time listening to podcasts and online videos such as Charlie Rose (he has excellent guests). Watch an interview by Charlie Rose and try to understand Q&A between parties. Note that the questions, in my opinion, are fairly basic and straightforward. They actually test more your memory (and note taking skills) than "actual" listening skills.

Speaking (29/30): Ironically, this was the most difficult section for me. The reason is simple: I had multiple test-takers around me all speaking loudly into their own headsets. This threw me off multiple times and I had a lot of trouble focusing on my own answer. I think the best way to practice is to have a friend or family member ask you things like "What is an important tool or technology that you use everyday and why" (FYI, this was one of my questions and I spoke about the computer). In my opinion, don't write down any ideas, just relax and think of you speaking about the topic to a friend. Use clear words such as: "The professor discusses X".... "In contrast to...."... "For example"... "While"... Try to throw in strong vocabulary here and there. By the way, I often spoke too long and was cut off by the "beep" marking the end of my time. Judging by my score, this had no negative effect. Practice practice practice. Another tip (based on hearing someone at the test center). I think it is best to take your time and speak coherently (but more slowly) rather than speaking quickly and often going "hmmmm"... "sooooo" "likeee".... etc.

Writing (30/30): I wrote about 500-600 words per passage. Use the template from the AWA of your GMAT. Chineseburned's template is fantastic. Master using the template (with some changes for the first type of question in the TOEFL). From my experience, the reading passage will always contradict the information from the listening part. So basically, it's a "analyze the argument" by using both the RC passage and listening part. If you need a specific template or would like me to give a good example, let me know.

I scored a 116/120 and am sure that I made many mistakes in reading and listening. Reading was actually quite challenging because it was so long! If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to PM me. Ultimately, I think that if you can score above 35 in GMAT verbal, you can surely score above 110 given that you do well in the speaking section.

Best of luck!

555
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 15:44
Expert's post
Thank you for the debrief!

Did you use any TOEFL books or that's not really necessary.
Are you done with GMAT or is that Next?
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 16:11
I actually referred to Pathfinder's previous post on the TOEFL. His debrief was intuitive and straightforward. I also downloaded the "TOEFL Guide" (PDF) on the official IBT website. Finally, I downloaded a practice test to get a feel for the type of question and look of the software. (I did a full test one day prior to my exam).

I read a lot of non-fiction books and am a news addict (I probably read 6 news websites a day - 3 to 4 times from morning to night). :shock: Here are some great websites to work on the type of material you will find in RC passages:

CNN, Economist, National Geographic, Fast Company, NY TImes, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, CNN Money, Fortune, Business Week and even the McKinsey Quarterly. A.T. Kearney also publishes interesting articles that will push your mind and understanding of topics.

BB, you may recall that I had the difficult experiences with the GMAT. Positive feedback from fellow GMATClub members and your tips have fuelled me to try a third time. I pushed my applications to R2. I'm pumped :) Thanks!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 16:27
Expert's post
triple5soul wrote:

BB, you may recall that I had the difficult experiences with the GMAT. Positive feedback from fellow GMATClub members and your tips have fuelled me to try a third time. I pushed my applications to R2. I'm pumped :) Thanks!


I remember the 555, bud did not look up your thread :oops:
Good luck! Starting with TOEFL was a good move - get it out of the way and get your confidence going! I look forward to adding your story to the Success list here: should-i-retake-gmat-thread-retaking-gmat-strategies-83339.html
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 03 Oct 2009, 23:51
555,

Can you share the RC template/example
Cheers!

triple5soul wrote:
I would like to share several takeaways from my TOEFL experience. Disclaimer: I am a native English speaker who attended an undergraduate program in French/English. Thus I was required to take the TOEFL. Nevertheless, I had some strategies going into the exam (wanting to score extremely well).

Reading (28/30): Practice RC content from the GMAT (MGMAT is quite difficult in my opinion) and read as much as possible - CNN.com, Economist.com, etc. The trick for this section, as mentioned by another GMATClub member, is to read the question stem first, scan the paragraph in sequential order, then find the answer. Read the second question, and so on. You will have ample time to get through this section if you are comfortable with RC passages from the GMAT.

Listening (29/30): I wrote bullet form notes and used arrows and symbols to represent relationships between ideas. For example, a "contrast" would be represented by "vs." or a consequence "--->". These little symbols helped me understand relationships between ideas from each passage. Spend time listening to podcasts and online videos such as Charlie Rose (he has excellent guests). Watch an interview by Charlie Rose and try to understand Q&A between parties. Note that the questions, in my opinion, are fairly basic and straightforward. They actually test more your memory (and note taking skills) than "actual" listening skills.

Speaking (29/30): Ironically, this was the most difficult section for me. The reason is simple: I had multiple test-takers around me all speaking loudly into their own headsets. This threw me off multiple times and I had a lot of trouble focusing on my own answer. I think the best way to practice is to have a friend or family member ask you things like "What is an important tool or technology that you use everyday and why" (FYI, this was one of my questions and I spoke about the computer). In my opinion, don't write down any ideas, just relax and think of you speaking about the topic to a friend. Use clear words such as: "The professor discusses X".... "In contrast to...."... "For example"... "While"... Try to throw in strong vocabulary here and there. By the way, I often spoke too long and was cut off by the "beep" marking the end of my time. Judging by my score, this had no negative effect. Practice practice practice. Another tip (based on hearing someone at the test center). I think it is best to take your time and speak coherently (but more slowly) rather than speaking quickly and often going "hmmmm"... "sooooo" "likeee".... etc.

Writing (30/30): I wrote about 500-600 words per passage. Use the template from the AWA of your GMAT. Chineseburned's template is fantastic. Master using the template (with some changes for the first type of question in the TOEFL). From my experience, the reading passage will always contradict the information from the listening part. So basically, it's a "analyze the argument" by using both the RC passage and listening part. If you need a specific template or would like me to give a good example, let me know.

I scored a 116/120 and am sure that I made many mistakes in reading and listening. Reading was actually quite challenging because it was so long! If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to PM me. Ultimately, I think that if you can score above 35 in GMAT verbal, you can surely score above 110 given that you do well in the speaking section.

Best of luck!

555

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If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.

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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 04:27
snipertrader,

Would you like to see a template for reading (comprehension) or writing?
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 04:33
Pardon me for not being clear.

Template for writing pls. thnx

triple5soul wrote:
snipertrader,

Would you like to see a template for reading (comprehension) or writing?

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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 07:25
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As mentioned in my earlier post, I followed the overall template posted by chineseburned.
(how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html)

The TOEFL has two writing assignments: (1) the integrated writing task and (2) the independent writing task.

For (1), follow an "argument" template. My TOEFL exam had the following: a RC passage discussing flying dinosaurs and present day birds. The short reading passage discussed the similarities between the birds today and dinosaurs that used to fly. Specifically, it spoke of their beaks, skeleton and eating habits. The lecture (audio) was a classroom setting with a professor who contradicted the information in the RC. Thus my response to the integrated task was something along the lines of:

The article discusses a fascinating topic pertaining to similarities between modern day birds and flying dinosaurs. While extensive data shows that birds and dinosaurs share numerous commonalities, the professor discusses fundamental differences between both vertebrates. Thus, the reading passage fails to mention quintessential information that substantiates the argument that modern day birds are genetically linked to prehistoric flying dinosaurs. The following essay attempts to identify these differences in order to establish an objective view of the situation.

First, the reading passages discusses [x]. In contrast, the professor provides information that [x].
Clearly, a disparity exists between the scientific magazine article and the evidence exhibited by the professor. As a result, we can safely assume that both vertebrates are not genetically linked but rather similar in shape and behaviour.

Second, the article pushes forth the idea that [x]. However, the classroom discussion confirms that modern day birds do not display parallel skeleton structures. Consequently, we can argue that indeed both species are dissimilar.

Finally, and most importantly, the professor mentions that [x] differs from [y] because [z]. [Add supporting evidence from the RC passage and audio section].

In summary, while modern day birds and prehistoric flying dinosaurs share many traits, namely [a], [b] and [c], a significant amount of evidence supports the claim that both species are actually quite dissimilar. Therefore, the RC passages fails to ...

Please note that I omitted a lot of information. Simply follow the template:

Introduction:
Opening sentence that describes the RC passage.
Contrasting idea that exhibits the position of the audio "statement"
State your hypothesis (i.e. modern day birds are actually dissimilar to flying dinosaurs)
Closing sentence (This essay will attempt to demonstrate/exemplify/showcase this argument

Argument 1:
Topic sentence that presents first argument
RC position
Audio/Classroom/Discussion position
Compare and contrast both the article and audio positions
What is the consequence of this comparison (for instance, in the example above, it proves that indeed both species are not alike)

Argument 2: same as "argument" 1
Argument 3: same as "argument" 2

Conclusion:
In conclusion, while both the RC passage and audio/classroom discussion provide fascinating/interesting information with regards to[x], we find that both positions are quite contradictory. As a result [...].

For the independent writing task, follow chineseburned's template. It's actually quite good. Basically, take a position on a subject (I think mine was "Some believe that interactive lectures (ie. case method) are more effective at teaching that traditional lectures in which a professor controls the content...". I basically agreed to this position and used personal examples (i.e. brought up HBS and how its case method is fantastic).

Imagine your friend making the statement: "Some technologies, such as email, actually decrease productivity rather than increase it". How would you respond using 3 distinct arguments. That's really what you have to do: take a position, use 3 examples (in 3 paragraphs) to support that position.

The key to writing an impressive piece is to use simple yet pertinent vocabulary. Simply put, write a list of "purpose" words. Examples include:

Results: As a consequence, as a result, consequently, equals, results in
Comparing: However, in contrast, similar, dissimilar, difference
Etc. etc.

I apologize in advance if my post is unclear in terms of a linear template. I think the key is to go above the required word count (300+) within a very cohesive structure: Introduction, Argument 1, Argument 2, Argument 3 and finally conclusion.

One thing I failed to mention. It seems that the RC passage and Listening part will always cover the same "parts". For instance, both my RC and audio sections spoke of the three underlying arguments (beaks, skeleton and behaviour). Therefore, I used each position within a separate paragraph and mentioned the RC's position and the professor's position. I would believe that most "integrated writing tasks" follow this structure. Obviously, both sections may be in agreement rather than a compare/contrast structure.

Feel free to message me if you have more specific questions.
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 07:42
Thanks a lot. This is perfect. I will share my experiences once i am done with TOEFL.

+1
Cheers!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2009, 08:30
Best of luck!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2009, 04:59
Good post!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 09 May 2010, 05:44
thank you triple5soul

+ 1 kudos :)
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 27 Aug 2010, 02:46
Well done it's an achievement!!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2010, 04:04
Awesome Toefl score ! Congrats!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2011, 10:45
Thanksfor sharing the info ... decentscore
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 30 May 2011, 05:09
Awesome score! Thanks :)
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2012, 04:41
thanx a ton...it helped!!
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Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120 [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2012, 05:22
:lol: Great works are performed not by strengh, but by perseverance. Image
Re: My TOEFL experience: 116/120   [#permalink] 25 Apr 2012, 05:22
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