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Tips for each TOEFL section

Reading

For the reading questions, focus on the areas that the questions relate to. The questions come in the order they appear. You should be ready for the kind of questions you will be asked. Many of the readings have a main idea question and at least two vocabulary questions are in each reading in addition to some detailed questions and inference questions. Skim the reading, go through the questions, then read for detail. You won’t have time to reread the entire passage. In the speaking and writing sections, you have to show that you have a good grammar ability, so be familiar with key academic vocabulary, but in the reading section, you do not have to know every single word in a passage to get the right answer to the questions. Practice reading with no dictionary.

Listening

On the real test, you will only hear everything one time, so you will need to simulate this and train your ears to listen fully the first and only time. When you are practicing for the listening sections, only play the listening ONCE. On the exam day, the clock will not start until you start the answers. Do NOT look at a listening question after you have decided on an answer since you cannot change it. Listen for main idea at the start, compare/contrast points, key points to support the main purpose and details such as when, where, how, and why.

Speaking

You can pause for a second when you respond. Try to fill as much of the time as possible with your speaking response. If you have a few extra seconds you can make a few second summary to conclude. You will have a lower score for poor pronunciation, so AVOID advanced words that you cannot pronounce correctly. Improper vocabulary and idioms also bring a lower score so be sure you know how to use an expression properly BEFORE you use it on the exam.

Writing

The first task in the writing section, you will need to integrate ideas from the reading and lecture and show their relationship, so study former practice tests and model essays, so you can know how to relate contrasting viewpoints on the same topic from different authors or a writer and a lecturer.

Keep your writing simple and clear! There is no spell check, so type accurately to avoid many typing errors. Do not use big vocabulary and advanced punctuation that you are not sure of.

Plan your essay before you write it. Your plan will save time so you have a well-organized writing. When you practice essays, find a format that you are comfortable writing. Use the same format/structure each time. For example, your thesis might always be in the third sentence of your introduction. You might always end your conclusion with a question. Make sure to use lots of examples to support your essay. Transitional words and phrases will make your writing easier to read. Memorize a list of transitions and know how to type them with no errors. At the end, leave a little time to revise what you wrote.

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