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113 in 6 weeks: a solid indicator that “I am moving forward”

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113 in 6 weeks: a solid indicator that “I am moving forward”  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jul 2017, 20:18
So I´ve just received my Toefl score and am happy to say that this journey is now over. For some people taking this exam is not exactly the first thing they would like to be doing right now. Nonetheless, Toefl can be a rewarding experience. And it has truly been in my case!

Why is that? Because getting a good score on the Toefl can be a solid indicator that “you are moving forward” with the MBA process. Simply put, there were 2 reasons for me:
1- The Toefl expires in 2 years. Therefore, you must apply to schools within the next 2 years. Boom. One administrative paper out of the way and the healthy pressure that now the “thing has become real”.
2- The Toefl experience can be a good precedent for the Gmat one. Think about it: you are taking a standardized test in what will probably be the same conditions than those in which you take the “other test”

First and foremost, some context about me:
- Got a 113
- Took 6 weeks total to prepare
- Was preparing for the Gmat simultaneously (probably not the best idea, though)
- Good looking (kidding! Probably below average…)

- I would say that a high Toefl (assume 110+) is probably somewhere between a Gmat Verbal 35-38 score. Compared to Cambridge tests, I would say it is similar than the CAE (Certificate in Advanced English). Give or take.
- Contents do overlap at some point with the Gmat (especially in the Reading and Writing sections).
- You should take it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, it can make you miss a round and delay your MBA application.
- You only need the official book. This is not like Gmat, in which the OG is a book with GREAT quality questions, but not so many pedagogic content. You should be fine with just “The Official Guide for Toefl, 4th Edition” (and maybe some YouTube videos).
- It is hard to forecast your score before going to the test. With Gmat, you have plenty of resources to take practice tests that more or less give you a score range. However, with Toefl you can kind of only know what to expect from your Reading and Listening scores (that´s just correct answers divided by total answers, duh!). But with Speaking and Writing, it is more difficult to know what your score will be.
- Do focus on understanding each question type and prepare a strategy plan for each. This is especially relevant for the Speaking section!
- When practicing, record yourself to know how you sound. Chances are it will not look that great the first time. No worries: you will improve over time.
- Regarding the Listening Sections, for me there were either too easy or too difficult questions. Not too many “grey questions” in-between. Just my personal view.
- Dude, relax. You can take the Toefl more than once. It´s not a silver bullet.

I was very honest with myself and I made a commitment to dedicate this test just enough to get a solid score (for me it was 110+) and move forward with the rest of my application. Nevertheless, I picked the worst date I could ever pick to take the test (I had no option! There weren´t that many dates available in my country). It was by the end of the business quarter (if you work at Finance/Accounting/Sales, you know how stressful that can be!) and just one day before a 2-week business trip (have you ever visited San Juan in Spring? Lovely weather, highly recommended). However, I told to myself that none of these factors would detract me for taking the best test I could take. I had invested time and effort in understanding the mechanics of Toefl and I wanted to accomplish my goal. As simple as that.

I am usually very OTC-driven when it comes to “big dates”. However, this experience taught me that to-do-lists and rituals can only take you so far and beyond that, they only become an obstacle. So I changed my focus: I imagined how cool it would be to get the BEST score I could get. Went for a burger and beer the night before and went to sleep early (somewhere around 9.30 pm). I woke up at 3.53 am (I am NOT a morning person!) because the test was at 9.00 and I wanted to have some hours to review my templates and notes. I did so at a restaurant near my place and went non-stop to the test center (listening to some highly motivational rock music in the subway!)

Test started on time. We were around 10 people in the test center. Yes, you do hear what others say during their Speaking section while you are still at the Listening part. So expect to have some distractions. Remember: you can do it!

- Reading section was tough: three convoluted passages about topics I cannot quiet remember right now. Despite the pressing time, I gave my best and reached the end of this section with only seconds left.
- I did get a little distracted in the Listening section. For me it was one of the easiest ones when I was practicing. However, I did not have a good day and I know I missed some otherwise-manageable questions.
- During my prep time, I was REALLY scared of the Speaking section. The thing is: it is the most “subjective” section. You are evaluated regarding whether what you said to the mike was relevant, concise, and on-topic. I didn´t know if my strategy was appropriate, but I decided to give it all and hope that my preparation was sufficient.
- Writing has always been my strongest part. I am good with words and vocabulary (this debrief is not a representative sample!) and I didn´t feel the pressure of time. For me, it was more of a “not-leaving-money-on- the- table” thing.

When I submitted my last essay, I knew I had given my best. I was happy with my performance and eager to finish my backpack to the Caribbean. Test ended at 1 pm, so it was a 4-hour experience overall. Really nice people in the test center: they were very polite and made me feel very comfortable.

I am back in Mexico now, after a long day of client-facing and meetings about the company reorg. When I arrive at my hotel somewhere around 5 pm, I receive an email stating that “my scores are now available”. I am clicking like an automat, passing screens, and just focusing on finding that 3-digit number.



Also impressed by the high score in Speaking. (I was so scared about that section!)

- I know taking the Toefl doesn´t sound like that thing you want to do right now.
- But do so. Preferably sooner than later. It can delay your application and you don´t want that to happen.
- It is a small step towards reassuring yourself that “you are moving forward with the application process”.
- Skill level is not that difficult, but you do have to study and understand the test mechanics.

Best of luck with your Toefl exam!
GMAT Club Bot
113 in 6 weeks: a solid indicator that “I am moving forward”   [#permalink] 02 Jul 2017, 20:18
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113 in 6 weeks: a solid indicator that “I am moving forward”

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