I got 115 in TOEFL and I thought it might be good to post a debrief here. I took TOEFL in Singapore on 21st August in a high school.Preparation
Nothing fancy, I read the entire Official Guide once and got a thorough idea of what to expect. Personally, I never like the idea of surprises on the day of exams and given the fact that I wanted to appear only once in TOEFL, I decided to prepare well (study everyday for 1 week at least). So after going through the exam format, I downloaded the templates posted here for both writing and speaking. I'm comfortable with English in general, so I was not too worried about Reading/Listening. Also, I took 3-4 practice tests from OG and Kaplan
book, and recorded my answers in iPhone sometimes to check the quality of responses. My wife gave a few feedback on my responses which I worked on to improve further.Exam Day
The day was Sunday and I woke up at 7:30, got ready and started from home at 8 AM; the exam was scheduled at 9 AM. Even tough the traffic was thin, I got a cab luckily within 5 minutes and reached the test center on time, following which I "checked in", i.e., wrote the disclaimer and gave my passport etc. Just a few minutes before 9 AM, I was taken in for the photograph and shown to my place with 3-4 pencils and scratch papers.
The room was quite okay, because there was enough space for everyone and there were partitions also between each test taker. Also, the temperature, and general setting were comfortable. And then I noticed that the room was a computer lab
Dong !! - the exam begins
, and instructions follow. I take out my earplugs, put them in my ears, and start cracking, although I don't think there was any distracting noise at that time.Reading
First passage was lengthy, and I just finished it on time in 20 min. Two more follow in 40 min, and I was done with them in nearly 36 min, and was heaving a sigh of relief, and voila, two more pop-up for 40 min
. If you have seen the movie Kickboxer, there is a scene in it when he faced one coconut dropped on him by his instructor, and says I'm okay, and immediately the instructor drops another coconut on him - my reaction was similar to that of Van Damme's
Anyways, I was done with reading properly I thought, and was thinking how come in practice tests I never got 5 passages at a time Listening
Listening was also as expected, and I occasionally took notes and sometimes I did not. In my opinion, this is really a matter of personal choice/style. When you practice, make sure that you adjust to one style, so that on the exam day you can attempt this section without fumbling around too much whereby your attention is divided between taking notes and paying attention to what is being said. In any case, for people who listen to native speakers, or watch Hollywood movies, CNBC videos etc., there shouldn't be too many difficulties.Break
So then the much awaited break came, and I went out and washed-up and spent a few minutes relaxing and admiring the school building. The day was Sunday, and the finely dressed people were turning in for church services in the school premises, and the setting was indeed soothing. Speaking
The speaking section began with adjusting voice/recording levels, and I started with the section by taking notes. In this section, it is important to practice taking notes and using them because very few people can remember fully what is said in the questions. Hence, I had the templates memorized and I took notes point-wise as suggested in Joseph Miranda's instructional videos and spoke carefully and coherently in the mike. Also, remember to finish in time while you're speaking well, so that your response that is judged becomes the best foot you've put forward.Writing
So then, the final section is here
I read the passage for question 1 briefly and took notes in a two column manner, and wrote the contrasting points in the lecture that follows. Thereafter, I wrote my essay of 500 words nearly. Lastly, for essay 2, I again wrote a behemoth of 600 words. Perhaps writing essays for GMAT and B-Schools helped.
And then, I confirmed that I want the scores to be sent to the B-Schools, checked-out from the room by handing over scratch papers and came outside and realized, boy, I was hungry - so I nipped into the energy-bar I had brought originally for the break.Results
My break-up is :
Reading - 30, Listening - 30, Speaking - 27, Writing - 28Epilogue
I'm happy now as I don't have to worry about re-taking - there are no dates available in Singapore anymore this year. Also, I've fulfilled the criteria for Cambridge; I was a tad worried about that as well because Cambridge asks for 25+ in each section.