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TOEFL Preparation and Exam Experience

TOEFL Preparation Experience of Anastasia Derelieva. Score: 111 [R26 L26 S29 W30] Prep Duration: ~1 week

TOEFL Materials Referred for Preparation

Cracking the TOEFL iBT Princeton Review 2013 edition (a book)
400 Must-have Words for the TOEFL (a book)
Kaplan tests (only the first 2); Delta Test 1,2; Longman Tests 1,2; 1 ETS Test; Express Tests 1,2
The TOEFL iBT Sampler (on the official website)
The official website + their youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/TOEFLtv)
Listening Practice – http://www.english-test.net/toefl/listening/

TOEFL Experience and Suggestions

1. Reading: Pretty easy; I got only 3 passages, 42Qs total (60min); the texts were very similar to these on the practice tests; I was kinda rushing it … I could’ve scored a lot better.

Just read carefully and use all the time provided even if you finish early (as I did). It’s useful to read the news in English for some time (NY Times, Washington Post, Daily News, USA Today, The Independent, BBC News etc.) and to read a novel or two in English.

2. Listening: I’ve got an experimental set so it was very looong and boring (90min total), but otherwise not so difficult. The trick is to make very detailed notes and to pay attention to key points in the discussions/lectures. My best advice would be to do a couple of practice tests, but above all watch as many movies and TV shows (without subtitles) as possible Also, listening to the radio is a good idea (BBC radio etc.); you can also watch clips on TED.com

3. Speaking: I was really stressed out; otherwise the questions weren’t hard at all. Timing is tricky so you should pay attention to the timer and try to complete the task in the time limit. I spoke very fast so I managed. Also, starting the speaking early is a very good move because the others wouldn’t distract you that much – that’s what I did; worked pretty well for me (started the test 2nd; finished the R and L first; got my break 1st; by the time the others were getting back from their break, I was almost done with the speaking). I used Joseph’s templates (on notefull.com) and my own ones for some of the questions, but I wasn’t following the templates blindly ; used my own words sometimes and made it sound more natural. I watched Jason Renshaw’s videos the night before the exam and followed some of the tips there on 1 or 2 questions. Just stay calm and focused and don’t say anything that is offtopic; just stick to the question asked and answer it as fully as possible.

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4. Writing: The integrated writing was a little bit tricky; definitely more difficult than the ones I did for prep; also, time flies! I used Joseph’s template and I’ve written ~260 words. In my opinion, just write the whole template on the screen at the very beginning and then just finish the sentences with the info. Don’t provide too many details because you will run out of time, that’s for sure! Take notes on the main idea and the 3 reasons from the passage (during the 3 min given for reading it) and also on the lecture. Remember, the information from the lecture is more important in this task, so don’t worry too much about the reading! You can see how to write notes effectively on Notefull.com
The independent writing was a very traditional one in my case (“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement..”). I used http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALmuKLzTZyY (watched it the night before the test ). The only thing I’ve changed were ‘By way of conclusion’ and this kind of WORDY phrases with better ones (such as ‘As seen above,’ ,for instance); I’ve written ~500 words. Just be specific and use at least 3-4 sophisticated words. Give concrete examples, meaning that they should not be very general, but the other way around – as specific and personal as possible (”When I was…”). Leave one line blank between paragraphs.

On TOEFL Test Day

Bring food (a sandwich, for example) and water with you because there is only a 10min break and you wouldn’t have time to go around and buy food during the break. Also, stay calm!

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