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Debrief of my 109 TOEFL experience

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Joined: 26 Feb 2013
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Location: Spain
GMAT 1: 710 Q46 V41
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Debrief of my 109 TOEFL experience  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 28 Apr 2014, 09:08
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In case it is useful, I will share what I did to prepare for the TOEFL and how I faced the exam.

Training:

I have to say that I dn not use english at work, but every movie or TV series I watch, I do it in the original language (usually english), and I am also a big fan of NFL, NBA and NCAA sports, so I spend many hours listening to english speakers. That has helped me to improve my listening and also speaking skills nad it´s not that great of an effort.

Witth the TOEFL exam in mind, I decided to take a 12 hour course that covered the basics, for I wanted to know what I was going to be asked and how to face each tipe of question. Because TOEFL is not just about speaking English: it is an exam and knowing what you have to do in every exercise is key. So you mas have the skills but also the proper training.

During the course I realizaed that I was in a good position to get to my goal of 105. Since the very beggining, I had no problem with listening, writing or listening section at all. I wasn´t doing bad at speaking either, but I consider it a more variable section, if a was inspired I almost nailed it; I was not, sometimes I lost focus and went around the houses.

After the course, I was going to spend a month in the US for work purposes, so I decided to take the opportunite to take the TOEFL in New York, for I had heard that test centers in Madrid are noisy and the staff members are not very polite. During my month in the US I tried to keep practicing. For that I got myself a copy of "The Complete Guide to TOEFL IBT", and also got the audios and answer keys. I did not spent that much time practicing, but spent as much as I could trying to nail the listening exercises, and during the week before the exam, I started practicing speaking again. Looking back, I should have commited a bigger amount of time to get better at speaking, and to progressively introduce more complex sentences or expressions. I mainly focused on trying to be albe to decide what to say in those 15-30s you have to figure it out, and to actually say without many flaws in the alloted time.


Exam day:

I took the exam on february 28th, in New York City, at Prometric Test Center on 3rd Avenue. I arrived 15 minutes early and went through all the security clearance very quickly. The staff was really helpful and very detailed and clear when explaining the exam process. The center was full of people waiting to take the exam, but I was one of the first to enter the test room, and that helped me be focused, although I have to say I was not diturbed by other test takers at all during the exam.

And so the test started.

- Reading: this section went as expected, I had no problem understanding everything nor answering the questions, nothing much to say here.

- Listening: I neither found any trouble with the listening excercises, and I finiseh it 10 minutes ahead of time.

I used the break to go to the restroom, and came back after 5 minutes to start the critical part:

- Speaking: the questions were not specially hard, and was quick on deciding what to say, but it was one of those days in which I was not particularly inspired, so I lost focus a couple of times and finished the section feeling I had not put up my best performance. Of course, you donñt know until after you see the results.

-Writing: the integrated task was not that difficult, but I took my time to think the better way to express my ideas, so I finished right in time. Nevertheless, I found the independet task to be hard. Mostly because of the topic I was given. Indeed, I used some almost 10 minutes to figure out which idea was easier to suppert and what my arguments were going to be. An even when already writing I kept thinking about it, not sure if it was the best approach. In the end I felt happy with the result.

Score:

R:30 L:30 S:22 W:27 109

Very happy with the resultm although I expected at least a 24 at speaking, but I guess it reflected my actual performance.

Piece of advice:

It is important to learn about the structure of the exam and what you are asked before it beforehand, even if you are good at English, because as in any exam, the key to answer what you are asked.

For those who are not skilled at engslish I would suggest do everything you can to get English langauage into your daily life. watch movies, TV shows, read... It helps a lot and it is not that big of an effort. If your are used to read in English, th reading section is a no brainer. almost the same happens iwth the listening section. I also found it very helpful to have a blog to practice my writing skills, so that´s an idea.

Speaking is the trickiest part, mostly because you do not have time to think and you cannot erase your answer and do it again. Focus is critical, so practice as much as you can and record yourself, so you can listen to your answers and correct flaws. Also, try to always look for different ways to express yourself, more complex expressions, new words; that way you won´t sound repetitive, but more sophisticated.

My experience with the Prometric Test Center in New York was very positive, in case any one is conseidering it an option.

Thanks for reading and good luck!
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Originally posted by hugoness on 27 Apr 2014, 04:58.
Last edited by hugoness on 28 Apr 2014, 09:08, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Debrief of my 109 TOEFL experience  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Apr 2014, 08:37
Really good score :) compliments

one question: was the speaking part weird in its accent ?? an accent such as australian or british trhat was difficult to understand or was clear though fast and convoluted (and this is normal because we are talking of speaking in an academic environment)

Thanks a lot :)
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GMAT 1: 710 Q46 V41
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Re: Debrief of my 109 TOEFL experience  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Apr 2014, 09:20
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Thanks carcass!

To answer your question, both my listening and my speaking excercises were easy to understand, I don´t recall having to deal with an specially difficult accent, I would say most of it was straightforward American accent. Of course it was two months ago, so maybe I am forgetting something, but in general, as I said, no "weird" accents.

Hope this helps!
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Re: Debrief of my 109 TOEFL experience   [#permalink] 28 Apr 2014, 09:20
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