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You Must Know:TOEFL An Introductory View (A-Z)

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Joined: 03 Jan 2011
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Schools: NSTU
You Must Know:TOEFL An Introductory View (A-Z)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2013, 23:21

By Farhad Hossain Masum, Mahmud Hoque and Higher StudyAbroad in HigherStudyAbroad™ Bangladesh Chapter.

(My article is intended to help especially those, who have had recently planned to take TOEFL iBT)

Basic Structure of the Test: The TOEFL iBT contains 4 basic sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Each section will be scored on a scale of 30. Therefore the total test score is on a scale of 120.

Registering For the Test: 1. Go to:

2. Create a TOEFL account
3. Register for the Test
4. Select 4 Score Recipients (You may or may not select the score recipients during registration.
You are allowed to do that up to the night before the test.)

You can have a look at the video tutorial of task 4:

Preparing for the Test: It is strongly suggested that you read the introductory chapter of “The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT” to get more familiarized with TOEFL iBT (other chapters are helpful too). The book titled “DELTA’S Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test” is also advisable, which offers a very organized overview of the test structure. Moreover the book contains plenty of practice materials and has been recommended by the test takers who got 110+.

Download link of the abovementioned books are:

**Official Guide: ... guide.html

DELTA’S Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test Full CD and Book: ... ation.html

Try to spend more time with practice tests rather than with books. The Barron’s 8 practice test package should be tried. You can download these practice tests along with the other practice materials of Barron’s from the following link: ... -full.html

The practice test software allows you to preserve your response of the speaking section. One of the problems of this package is its mediocre level of difficulty of the reading section. Other sections are pretty good enough. If you wish to take tougher reading section (which is bound to appear during actual test) you can try the Kaplan Practice Test software. Its reading section seemed to be tougher to me as compared to that of the Barron’s, but the other sections couldn’t satisfy me.

Another problem of the Barron’s is this software produces wrong evaluation of scores of the reading and listening section. Don’t get confused at this. You will need to take note of the raw score and look on the page 285 and 301 of the official TOEFL book, which will give you most accurate prediction of your true score.

You should also download the free sample questions of TOEFL. This is not a full length test but will give you idea about the actual test interface. Its download link is:

The best possible thing for TOEFL preparation is to utilize the TOEFL Practice Online. It is not offered for free. You may purchase it from:

There are other practice materials by ETS. While registering for TOEFL you may purchase them.
There can be some packages offered by ETS. Check it while registering.

Last but not least, I am going to provide the download link of a book for the writing section, which is: ... tions.html

This book contains sample response of the TOEFL essays. You can just have some idea about the pattern of the required response of the essays from this, but don’t be foolish to memorize those.

The Test Experience: Before plunging into the TOEFL iBT preparation, it is kind of a requisite to achieve a brief overview about the overall test, i.e. sections that are experienced during the test, usual question types, scoring pattern for each question, allotted time, etc. Beforehand discernment about a manifold test like TOEFL iBT will definitely boost up your confidence a lot. Just go through the books I suggested above to get idea about the test structure. Moreover, what I am going to provide you now is the probable scenario you are going to face during the test and some fundamental strategies.

*** Before Starting the Test: You will be assigned with your cubicle. Initially you will have to go through a little microphone test. You will need to speak about some topic (like the city you live in), but this will not be scored. The whole thing is about adjustment of your microphone volume by the test software while you speak. After this, your real test starts.

*** The Reading Section: The very first section you are going to face is the reading section. The TOEFL iBT reading section consists of 3 passages usually, unless you face an experimental one. The Allotted time is 60 minutes for regular 3 passage pattern, or 80 minutes in case of the extra experimental reading passage. You will never be able to identify specifically about which one is the experimental one. Therefore, the best possible thing you can do is to put on the same amount of attention and dedication for each of the 4 passages. The experimental part may not appear during the reading section but if not so, then be sure to face this unwanted torment during listening section. The fact is one experimental part is bound to appear, either during the reading or the listening section. The remaining two sections, speaking and writing do not have any experimental part. Due to the recent change by ETS, unlike the tests taken prior to November 2011 the reading section now is not divided into separately timed parts of 20 minutes each. Instead, all of the Reading passages and questions will be made available to you in a single block of time of 60-80 minutes. (This change has not been incorporated in the Barron’s practice tests.) Each reading passage will provide you 13-14 questions to answer. Therefore you’ll have to face 54-56 questions maximum, provided you have to face 4 reading passages. Whenever you are uncertain about the answer of a question, you may skip it and move on with the next one. You have the latitude to review or return to that unanswered question anytime within the allotted time slot of 60-80 minutes. This will also allow you to change your previous response to a particular question.

Our usual approach, in case of the reading comprehension has been to read the whole passage before answering questions. However, during TOEFL iBT reading, you will need to adhere to a different strategy. You will not need to or more specifically, you will not read the passage before answering the questions, because doing that will only kill your valuable time. While facing the questions, the passage will be right beside. Read your questions and find the answer references in the passage.

Usually it is mentioned within the question about the location of its answer in the passage. Moreover, it will be quite beneficent to know that the order with which these 13-14 questions appear, maintains a sequence of the location of their answers in the corresponding passage, which means the initial questions will be from the first paragraph, followed by the later questions with answers within the remaining parts of the passage. However, the very last question will be a summary or a ‘Fill in a table’ question requiring the overall idea about the passage which in fact is supposed to be achieved, provided you have explored it while answering the previous questions.

*** The Listening Section: This section usually comprises 2 parts (3 parts in case of presence of an experimental one). Each part has 2 lectures and 1 conversation, each lasting for 3-5 minutes. Each lecture will be followed by 6 questions and each conversation will be accompanied by 5 questions. Therefore you will have 17 questions to be answered within 10 minutes in your hand for each part. The 10 minute clock does not tick while you listen. This is the time allotted for answering only.

Unlike the reading section, you are not allowed to skip a question in order to get back on it later or to change your response. You will see each question only for once. There is one more thing to be remembered. While exploring through the questions, you will need to click Next and then Click OK (On top right corner of the screen) in order to see the next question.
You are allowed to take notes while listening, which has been however a fact of controversy. Some opposes to the necessity of note taking, while others take this as a necessary task. From my point of view, it is better to write at least something for this section. The amount of note taking varies from person to person. Some is habituated to take notes of everything they listen, while others prefer to write about the things he/she considers worth memorizing. Whatever you do, make sure that you do not miss anything from the lecture/conversation. Even if you do so, do not stay clingy on thoughts like “I have had missed a valuable point.” Just move on with the remaining portion. It is not wise to write everything (like full sentences) for notes. Just put on something which you will be able to utilize later while answering.

During listening to conversation, make two columns assigned for each person to facilitate note taking. There are some typical parts of the lectures/conversations, about which the questions will definitely be provided. Practicing more with the question patterns will make it possible for you to identify this typical turns, so that you can be sure to face questions in those concern.

*** The 10 minute Break: Take the best use of it to make you a bit relaxed. You can go out of the test room during this time, but enter it again with 1-2 minutes remaining.

*** The Speaking Section: This is the smallest of all 4 sections of TOEFL iBT, and the most challenging one also. This section is full of tribulations mainly due to its intricate structure. You should be familiar with the structure of the speaking section. Make sure to go through the page 18 of “The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT”. This page has the best possible overview of the whole listening section structure.

Performing well in the speaking section is all about strategies to be followed. Go to You Tube and search with “”. Simply download whatever you will find about the TOEFL iBT speaking section. This is a must to do. These video tutorials are freakingly awesome. Just have faith on whatever the guy on the tutorial is going to instruct and make every possible use of the strategies he provides. Do not speak too hastily during this section. Whatever you say, make sure you deliver it clearly and steadily. Do not rush to tell too many things because the allotted time is quite short. Plan carefully on exactly what you are going to say. Do not make too many interruptions like “um, hmm, well”……….whatever. Do not finish your delivery with significant amount of remaining time. It is always wise to finish your speaking 1-2 seconds before the time ends.

***The Writing Section: This is the last section of this strenuous test, which has two tasks, “The Integrated Task” and “The Independent Task”. You will need to download the “” videos from You Tube for the strategies of this section. You may take notes during this section.

The integrated task contains a passage to read and a lecture to listen. The passage will appear first and there will be 3 minutes of reading time. Carefully notice the key facts mentioned in the passage. After that, the passage will disappear and you will listen to a lecture in which the professor/instructor will support/oppose the facts mentioned during the reading passage. The lecture will last for 2 minutes. Take note of the points addressed by the professor/instructor. Usually the lecture does the “Opposing Purpose”. Possibility of getting the “Supporting Purpose” is very negligible, but surely not zero, unlike what the guy states. When the lecture finishes, the reading passage will appear again, and you will see a 20 minute clock start ticking, which indicates that you should start your writing. In your writing, you will have to describe the purpose that the lecture serves in relation with the passage (how it opposes/supports the passage) using 2/3 logical paragraphs. Conclusion is not necessary in the integrated task, but you may write it if you have sufficient time in your hand after writing all the necessary things.

The second task, the independent task will require you to write on a particular type or to support a particular side of a conflicting issue within 30 minutes. You will need to write a good introductory paragraph, 2-3 body paragraphs with strong topic sentences and supporting examples, and a conclusion. Before plunging into writing, make sure to think about your approach of writing. Many people start writing just as the clock start ticking, which should not be followed. Spending some time around 4/5 minutes will benefit you only, because you will be able to plan about what you need to write.

Good score in writing section is quite easy to obtain. You will need to follow a particular strategy or your own partially modified strategy and develop some templates of the essays. 5 things are worth following to get decent writing score:

§ Good Strategy
§ Well Structured Template
§ Efficient Use of Time
§ Strong Topic Sentences
§ Proficient Use of Examples

Needless to say, too many grammatical mistakes and spelling errors are to be avoided. Revising your writing can be helpful if you have the time to do it.

*** Finally………………: All these were what I followed during my preparation of TOEFL iBT and turned out to be quite helpful for me. There are other good preparation materials (mentioned in another document of this group), which you obviously can use. As I mentioned earlier, spend more time with practice tests and questions rather than that with the books. Practice with headphone and microphone for the speaking section. Books are only for guidance, the practice tests are for building up of confidence. Work on your weak spots as much as possible and do not worry too much. This is only a test of your English skills, no rocket science. Best of luck and have a good day.

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You Must Know:TOEFL An Introductory View (A-Z)   [#permalink] 22 May 2013, 23:21
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