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TOEFL debrief - 114

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TOEFL debrief - 114 [#permalink] New post 07 Sep 2011, 10:49
Just received my TOEFL scores today and I was a little surprised (in a positive way) by the overall score.
Overall 114: Reading 30, Listening 27, Speaking 28, Writing 29.

I had my test day on August 27th and to be honest didn't prepare for more than 3 hours in total.

Now the surprise was big, because during the exam I realized that my greatest issue was the test center itself and not the content of the test. Sure, I had read the forums and was somewhat prepared (bring earplugs!); I expected the site not to be too comfortable, but what I found there shocked me: 15 people crammed into a 10sqm room, with an air conditioner that was probably being run by mice. You'd be surprised by how much this can influence one's performance.

Reading went smoothly, since I was lucky enough to be the fifth to begin the examination and there weren't too many distractions around. The passages are easy to understand and while for the first two I used a 'read entire passage - answer question' strategy, I realized that this takes too much time and decided to switch to a 'read question - look for info - answer question' method which proved to be time saving. Don't worry about this section if you've already prepared for the GMAT.

By the time I began Listening, everybody was at their workstations and the ambient noise levels sky rocketed: 'Describe the city you live in', 'My city is...' etc. This is where the earplugs come in handy. As with reading, listening isn't difficult as long as you can ignore the noise around you. Note taking is good if you feel that you can't concentrate well enough.

Speaking began after a 10 minute break, which I strongly suggest you use for a snack and drink. Now this is where my performance plummeted. Upon reentering the room, I immediately started sweating since the temperature in the room was probably the same as on the outside (+30C). When I began speaking my mouth felt as if it had Superglue instead of saliva and just couldn't open it properly. I wasn't expecting more than 22 on this section, but in the end things turned surprisingly well. As preparation for speaking I used the Youtube templates, which help you deliver to the point answers. They were very useful.

Finally, Writing was a breeze. The integrated task was related to some environmental issue and posed no difficulties at all, while the independent task was to agree/ disagree with a statement that promoted patience as the best strategy for decision taking. Both writing tasks are doable and I personally used the GMAT templates for AWA.

I am not a native speaker, but I work in a predominantly English speaking environment. If you've been through the GMAT, don't worry at all about the TOEFL. Just go through its structure, practice a little with speaking (I didn't do it and it almost cost me) and be prepared for an unfriendly test center. Most of all, bring earplugs!
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Re: TOEFL debrief - 114 [#permalink] New post 07 Sep 2011, 17:56
Very good debrief. Could you please let us all know where (country/place) you took the TOEFL ?

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Re: TOEFL debrief - 114 [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 01:07
Hi, the test center was located in Bucharest, Romania.
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Re: TOEFL debrief - 114 [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 01:20

Just received my scores as well and managed to secure a 116 (r:30, l:30, s:29, w:27) with something like 4 hours of preparation.

I had exactly the same two topics on the writing section: environmental issue and patience as the best strategy.

My tips are:

Reading - Don't read the entire passage first. Go directly to the questions and just read the necessary part to answer each question.

Listening - Take lots of notes (words, not full sentences) to help you focus on the topic, however most likely you won't need them to answer anything. The questions are pretty basic.

Speaking - Videos from notefull are all you need. I was cut off in one question, finished 5 seconds earlier in the last one and had to repeat a word due to bad pronunciation in another one, and still managed to get a 29. So don't worry to much about making small mistakes. If you are stuck,just stop, take a deep breath and start the sentence again.

Writing - I was tired after 3 hours and couldn't really focus too much, however the trick is to memorize a template and that's it. On the first question it is important to mention lots of things from the stuff you hear, so make sure you take good notes.

Best Tip: Ear Plugs. The headphones don't block the noise at all.
Re: TOEFL debrief - 114   [#permalink] 08 Sep 2011, 01:20
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