as promised - here is my TOEFL debrief from my yesterday's exam. In fact, I'm not that satisfied. I think I could have done better, but let's wait another 10 days for the official score (I still hope to get between 100 and 110, but, as I have a better knowledge of the exam now, I think it's doable for me to score up to 115). My preparation strategy:
Starting November 2011 I visited a TOEFL preparation course (3 hours twice a week in the weekends) where I worked in a small group. We completed tests from various prep resources - Delta, Cambridge, Kaplan
, etc. and had a total of 15 sessions for about 2 months. This helped my preparation a lot, as I was able to train the basics - completed several tests, had someone score my speaking performance, wrote about 15 essays (Integrated & Independent tasks). Towards the end of January 2012 I started my own preparation including:
- ETS TOEFL OG
- to ultimately see what the raters are looking for,
- NoteFull's Videos on YouTube - in order to boost my speaking score (I thought it to be my weakest area),
- Ouliogrooves YouTube channel, containing much materials to practice Speaking
- completed many additional complete tests from various resources - Cambridge, Kaplan
, Barrons, Thomson & Longman. If you ask me, the one's, which are worth it are definitely the first three My exam day
I looked for a test date, which is in the morning, because I think I'm a kind of a morning person. The day prior to the test I went to see where the test centre was and yesterday (11th of February) arrived there about 9 am. Then completed all administrative steps - filling in of some forms, photo etc. And then the test just started. At least in my case - I wasn't allowed to take anything inside the test room, except my ID. Reading
- I got the long reading (currently max. 4 reading passages), which were ALL based on some scientific articles. I really expected them to be more diversified, but it turned out to be that it's possible to get passages from just one category, in my case - Biology. I would say all four reading texts were not difficult, but were slightly harder than OG, going towards Kaplan
and Barrons level (Cambridge Reading is still harder I think). I was good on time with the first three passages and started the last one with 2 mins more on the timer. Unfortunately, I somehow struggled on some questions and started running out of time for the last 4 questions, which I just completed randomly/best guessing. Just poor time strategy. Now I hope that exactly this will be the passage, which won't be rated, but we'll see. The stupid thing is that in my entire preparation I really never ran out of time in the Reading.Listening
- the listening was OK. It included 2 conversations (Student-Student or Student-Professor) and 4 Lectures, and all questions were accepted. In my preparation, I first tried to have good notes on the Listening, but afterwards discovered that this distracts me too much from listening to the conversations. That's why I started jotting down only complicated words, or some complex lists, sometimes mentioned in scientific lectures.Break
- it was difficult to get to the WC, as all wanted to do that in the break. BUT don't bother - the test center administrator defines when the Speaking starts. By entering his/her password he activates the exam again so it can't happen that you're still waiting for the WC and the Speaking part begins. Speaking
- while it was quite distracting for me that everyone around me started the Speaking section, the Speaking turned out to be maybe the easiest part of the exam. It passes by very quickly and all reading/listening passages were more that acceptable. Have in mind that when the administrator enters his/her password in your computer and you're allowed to move on with the test you can take all the time in the world to write down some Speaking structures (e.g. NoteFull's answer structure suggestions) and, as you're ready, click on Continue and calibrate your microphone. By doing this, you'll have the advantage that you'll have heard what the other people have answered to one questions, and you'll have some idea what to say. Writing
- the Writing part began right after Speaking. Both topics were acceptable. The Listening (Integrated Essay) was well structured and easy to follow. Here I would suggest not to follow NoteFull's tips, but rather read/skim the entire reading passage (not only the thesis sentence in the first paragraph and the introductions sentences of the remaining paragraphs), write down the important information, and then focus on the information from the Listening, as it is more important. Time should be enough to write much more than 150-225 words. Regarding the Independent Essay, 30 mins are more than enough. Just think of some good arguments and provide examples (comes always good in the Writing, as well as in the Speaking section).Conclusions, Findings & Tips for you
- always follow the timer and if you don't know any answer within 15 secs (there appear to be some misleading questions) just go to the next one and return using "Review";
- just relax, it's all as you expect it.
- after the break, take your time jotting down your structure and wait for the other's to begin. You all have the same exam/questions and you can benefit if you last go into the Speaking section as you'll have some ideas/arguments in hand.
- again, relax, time is enough. Structure your arguments well. In the integrated essay focus on the Listening and just mention what the reading stated. In the independent essay - take your time, structure your supporting arguments and just write what comes into mind. In both essays try to use connectors in ordero for your essays to be fluent.
Well, I hope this helps. I will be happy to answer all kinds of questions and plan to update my post once I have some hard facts regarding my score
Thank you very much for reading this post till the end! Kudos?