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Toefl Debrief - 114 - Information, Tips, Templates

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Toefl Debrief - 114 - Information, Tips, Templates [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2013, 12:31
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Hi all,
Just wanted to share my score and offer my help for anyone who needs it.

Score distribution:

Reading - 29
Listening - 28
Speaking - 28
Writing - 29

About me:

I am your average joe.
Im not a native speaker but have a good command on the English language. I work in a start-up company and therefore I have to travel a lot.
I aim to finish my application for round 1 or round 2.
I was abroad when I looked up dates for the Toefl and realized that there are only 3 available dates in September so I immediately enrolled for September 1st.
I had a total of 8 days to study for the Toefl. I took a week off from work and started my preparations.

Materials Used:

The Official Toefl Guide - ETS
Barron's Toefl Guide
GMAT Club Forum

Here's what worked for me:

I read the whole Official Guide by ETS first and practiced everything there to recognize my weaknesses.
After I finished all 4 sections, I realized that reading and listening are my stronger areas and that I need some sort of structure or template for speaking.
So I started to search for quality materials here in GMATCLUB and found notefull's 6 videos. I must say that these videos are great. I practiced the structure and memorized it and it did wonders for me.
When I first practiced the speaking section I always got confused and ruined the question. Notefull's templates helped me to gain confidence and cleared things up for me. I highly recommend for anyone to use them.
For the writing section, the first essay is pretty straightforward. Just take good notes when you listen to the lecture.
For the second essay, I just followed a simple template I made up by myself which consists of 4 paragraphs:

1) A short opening to convey my opinion and main idea:
In my eyes, I think that.... (giving the answer for the question I was asked) For a few reasons...
Although not all people will agree, on one hand... On the other hand... and that's why my opinion regarding this matter is...

2) Example 1:
First, I believe that...
For example...

3) Example 2:
Second, in my view, ....
For instance...

4) Conclusion:
In conclusion,...

After I was done with improving my weaknesses I practiced the 3 exams that came with the official guide.
They were OK and they are the closest to the real test.

I still had 8 exams from the Barron's book so I decided I should work only on my speaking and improve there. I wanted to speak fluently without grammar mistakes or gaps.
I devoted a whole day for that.
On the last day, I took a full barrons exam.


Test Day:

I arrived at the center 40 minutes before my exam. The center's conditions were really really really bad. 20 people in each classroom with NO A/C!!!
I sat with another girl right next to me without any space between us. It was super hot that day as well and all I had was a small bottle of water.

The reading and listening parts were actually harder than at home. I had 3 reading comprehensions and 9 (!) listening conversations/lectures.
At the break I just had a banana and some water and came back ready to go. I knew that the Speaking section will determine my score.

The speaking section was much easier than at home.

Questions 1+2 asked about normal, day to day topics.
Question 3 asked about a change in the university, but an easy one.
Question 4 asked to define a subject from the world of animals and speak about it.
Question 5 asked about a female's problem, 2 solutions and what would I do.
Question 6 was the only hard one, you must take good notes there.

In the writing section, both essays were relatively easy in my eyes. The subjects for both of them were easy to understand and write about.

TIPS:

- First and foremost, believe in yourself. All I wanted was to get above 100 and ended up with 114.
- Start from the ETS guide and not other books. I feel that barrons is a good book but it is way too long and sometimes makes things much more complicated.
- Find your weaknesses and improve them.
- For reading and listening there's not much to do besides practicing over and over again. SO PRACTICE. A LOT.
- Speaking - Devote a whole day to just memorize the templates and speak over and over again. I practiced the ETS speaking sections 3 times each + all barrons speaking sections. You can also find ANYTHING you need here -> toefl-instructional-videos-speaking-writing-very-useful-100611.html
- Writing, just follow my simple template or create your own. Structure is as important as grammar and explaining your opinion.
- Stay calm during your exam day and do know that practicing at home and solving the exam at the center is not the same. The conditions are terrible.
- During your exam, use ear-plugs and put the headphones on them. You'll thank me later.

That's it.

If you have any questions im here for you, all you need to do is ask.

Thank you for your time,
Roy
_________________

If my answer helped, dont forget KUDOS! :)


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Toefl Debrief - 114 - Information, Tips, Templates   [#permalink] 10 Sep 2013, 12:31
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