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TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips

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TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2012, 02:50
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Dear All,

I scored a 118/120 on the TOEFL iBT (2 points deducted from speaking section) and I thought I'd share some of my experience with you.

The test center was OK, the room was actually in the basement, but no windows meant no outside noise, which was certainly beneficial. I had about 20 people with me, the room was filled to about 3/4 of its capacity. Luckily, the computer station next to mine was unoccupied, so I only had to deal with the noise coming from other tables.

For preparation, I used the official guide, some additional speaking practice questions I found with google, the AWA writing template for the essays and the videos posted in this thread:
toefl-instructional-videos-speaking-writing-very-useful-100611.html

These are very helpful and definitely make your life easier.

As far as reading/listening/writing, unfortunately I cannot give you much advice since I'm a lawyer and I work a lot in English. Thus, I did not find the reading/listening/writing parts difficult at all (got a perfect score in each section), I just did the preparation to familiarize myself with the test format.

What I did find very useful though and might help others as well was for the dreaded speaking section.

Use the tips provided in the videos linked above, and practice these a lot. Obviously it can be very frustrating that a lot of people are talking around you during the exam and this can easily disrupt your concentration.

I practiced for this by switching on my TV, the radio, some web radio on my PC, and sat down in between these with my laptop to do my speaking practice (using a recorder and timer software). The important part is to choose channels like CNN, BBC etc. (not a music radio f.e.) because you want people talking all around you about various topics from as many different sources as possible. After a few hours of practice, I completely got used to all the blabbing going on around me, and could completely lock them out and focus on my speaking. This definitely helped a lot on exam day, I wasn't disturbed by the other exam takers at all. (I got the points deductions because I had to stop and completely rephrase one answer at midpoint, and ran out of time at another.)

I hope you can utilize this as well!

Best of luck to you and feel free to ask questions if you have any!
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2012, 04:32
congrats! thats an amazing score!
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2012, 09:59
Hey, GPT55

First of all, many congratulations for your score in Toefl and GMAT. :)
I gave my GMAT yesterday and screwed it big time 600 (Q50,V23) :'(
Now I have my TOEFL on 25th August. I want to score good at least in this test. After that I will consider giving GMAT again, probably after 2-3 months of preparation.

I need lil help from you regarding TOEFL. I just checked that there are 2 editions of Official Guide for Toefl.
3rd edition: http://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-TO ... rd+edition
4th edition: http://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-TO ... rd+edition

I have 3rd edition with me. Do you know if there is any difference between the two?
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2012, 10:57
That is top-notch man! Thank you for sharing your approach. I have a question if though, could you elaborate upon the Listening section of the test because I have problem with it, I got my score 1 month ago and it was (R29, L20, S24, W28) - as you see Listening is way down there. Could you give any tips? Usually, I understand the speech but when it comes to the questions I get bogged down...
Will appreciate any thoughts on this issue folks...
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2012, 00:10
Guys, I just got back from my vacation, I'll reply to your questions by tomorrow the latest!
Current Student
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2012, 00:36
dexerash wrote:
Hey, GPT55

First of all, many congratulations for your score in Toefl and GMAT. :)
I gave my GMAT yesterday and screwed it big time 600 (Q50,V23) :'(
Now I have my TOEFL on 25th August. I want to score good at least in this test. After that I will consider giving GMAT again, probably after 2-3 months of preparation.

I need lil help from you regarding TOEFL. I just checked that there are 2 editions of Official Guide for Toefl.
3rd edition: http://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-TO ... rd+edition
4th edition: http://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-TO ... rd+edition

I have 3rd edition with me. Do you know if there is any difference between the two?


Hi dexerash,

I learned from the 3rd edition. I do not know anything about possible important differences between the two editions. It seems the new edition has three full length exams instead of two, and I'd guess it has some new questions in it as well but all in all I think you should be OK with the 3rd edition. It would be worth checking it with people who have both, or maybe the publisher itself, if you're really concerned about this.

Sorry I couldn't be of much help.

GPT
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Joined: 04 Mar 2011
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Concentration: Finance, Economics
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Kudos [?]: 38 [0], given: 38

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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2012, 00:38
Javoni wrote:
That is top-notch man! Thank you for sharing your approach. I have a question if though, could you elaborate upon the Listening section of the test because I have problem with it, I got my score 1 month ago and it was (R29, L20, S24, W28) - as you see Listening is way down there. Could you give any tips? Usually, I understand the speech but when it comes to the questions I get bogged down...
Will appreciate any thoughts on this issue folks...


Hi Javoni,

I'll gladly help you, but please be more specific about your problems with Listening. You say you understand the speech but then still don't answer correctly. What's the exact problem? You can't remember the specifics from the speech the questions ask about? Do you misinterpret the speech or the question? Or something else?

GPT
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2012, 10:21
GPT55 wrote:
Javoni wrote:
That is top-notch man! Thank you for sharing your approach. I have a question if though, could you elaborate upon the Listening section of the test because I have problem with it, I got my score 1 month ago and it was (R29, L20, S24, W28) - as you see Listening is way down there. Could you give any tips? Usually, I understand the speech but when it comes to the questions I get bogged down...
Will appreciate any thoughts on this issue folks...


Hi Javoni,

I'll gladly help you, but please be more specific about your problems with Listening. You say you understand the speech but then still don't answer correctly. What's the exact problem? You can't remember the specifics from the speech the questions ask about? Do you misinterpret the speech or the question? Or something else?

GPT



Hey GPT thanks for reply!

Here is how I handle the Listening section:

I listen and take notes simultaneously, however when it comes to answering the questions I don't use the notes that much...I think that is bad

Sometimes I don't remember answer to the question sometimes but more importantly, I think that I might misinterpret the idea of lectures....But generally speaking I understand what the lecturer is talking about when I listen...

Any ventures? What is wrong with me, how could I approach the section properly...I just want a well balanced score that is the point...

Thanks in advance bro and have a great time!

Javoni
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Current Student
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Joined: 04 Mar 2011
Posts: 129
Concentration: Finance, Economics
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Kudos [?]: 38 [0], given: 38

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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2012, 00:24
Javoni wrote:
Hey GPT thanks for reply!

Here is how I handle the Listening section:

I listen and take notes simultaneously, however when it comes to answering the questions I don't use the notes that much...I think that is bad

Sometimes I don't remember answer to the question sometimes but more importantly, I think that I might misinterpret the idea of lectures....But generally speaking I understand what the lecturer is talking about when I listen...

Any ventures? What is wrong with me, how could I approach the section properly...I just want a well balanced score that is the point...

Thanks in advance bro and have a great time!

Javoni


Ok, so if I understand correctly your main problem is with the "main idea" question types, and not the "remember a detail" ones. (See a good breakdown of question types here: http://www.englishclub.com/esl-exams/et ... tening.htm)

First of all, yes, taking notes and not using them is a problem. :) Especially since in my experience you should be taking notes of the main ideas and not details that might pop up in questions - you simply cannot note down every little detail.

You should google some practice questions (like those found in the link above), and if you are struggling with capturing main ideas and attitudes, I'd suggest you try to listen to various lectures and debates, such as lectures found on iTunes U, a political debate on TV, a report on some issue on TV/radio or basically anything that interests you. While doing so, practice taking notes of these things and at the end, try and summarize what you heard based on your notes: what was the debate/lecture about, what were the participants' main ideas, what was their attitude towards the issue etc.

I hope this helps. :)

GPT
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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2012, 10:02
GPT55 wrote:
Javoni wrote:
Hey GPT thanks for reply!

Here is how I handle the Listening section:

I listen and take notes simultaneously, however when it comes to answering the questions I don't use the notes that much...I think that is bad

Sometimes I don't remember answer to the question sometimes but more importantly, I think that I might misinterpret the idea of lectures....But generally speaking I understand what the lecturer is talking about when I listen...

Any ventures? What is wrong with me, how could I approach the section properly...I just want a well balanced score that is the point...

Thanks in advance bro and have a great time!

Javoni


Ok, so if I understand correctly your main problem is with the "main idea" question types, and not the "remember a detail" ones. (See a good breakdown of question types here: http://www.englishclub.com/esl-exams/et ... tening.htm)

First of all, yes, taking notes and not using them is a problem. :) Especially since in my experience you should be taking notes of the main ideas and not details that might pop up in questions - you simply cannot note down every little detail.

You should google some practice questions (like those found in the link above), and if you are struggling with capturing main ideas and attitudes, I'd suggest you try to listen to various lectures and debates, such as lectures found on iTunes U, a political debate on TV, a report on some issue on TV/radio or basically anything that interests you. While doing so, practice taking notes of these things and at the end, try and summarize what you heard based on your notes: what was the debate/lecture about, what were the participants' main ideas, what was their attitude towards the issue etc.

I hope this helps. :)

GPT


Thanks a lot man! I really appreciate it and will definitely let you know how this approach is going to work out.
Cheers, and live strong buddy!
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Joined: 04 Mar 2011
Posts: 129
Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: 700 Q44 V41
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Kudos [?]: 38 [0], given: 38

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Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips [#permalink] New post 18 Aug 2012, 01:04
Javoni wrote:
Thanks a lot man! I really appreciate it and will definitely let you know how this approach is going to work out.
Cheers, and live strong buddy!


No problem and good luck! ;)
Re: TOEFL Debrief (118/120) + Speaking tips   [#permalink] 18 Aug 2012, 01:04
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