Importance of Analytical Skills for TOEFL, GRE, MBA

Whether you are getting ready to take TOEFL or doing the legwork for GRE or finishing your business studies, you’ll use your analytical skills. First, you’ll have to communicate, either written or orally, and share your analysis with others. Then, you’ll draw on your creativity such as your flexibility to see a problem from different perspectives or your capability to identify key data.

Possessing the ability to problem solve reveals your analytical skills to others. An interviewer, for example, would notice how you answered a behavioral question. A team, on the other hand, would see your leadership. Finally, a rater on a test would notice the process, logical or not, through how you addressed a prompt. Moreover, in various daily circumstances, analysis is needed.

Analysis helps you assess both simple and complicated problems. It encompasses your being attentive to detail on TOEFL and GRE, your ability to think critically, your capability to make decisions on tests and in studies, and your research skills to find a solution in case studies.

Not only are your analytical skills tested on exams but also in interviews, such as when you are up for a career move or when you put in a university application. During each of these processes, you may be asked to discuss an example to illustrate your professional and/or personal experiences.

Hence, being mindful of everyday problems that you solve, particularly ones that you creatively address, and the process you use to resolve these issues will help you build an analytical response for tests, business, and college studies.

Reflect on these key aspects and how you can highlight your experiences in answering in test situations and/or on campus:

  1. Researching
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Decision making
  4. Being detail-oriented

Researching

One fundamental aspect which shows your ability to draw conclusions around issues is doing research. Skills such as defining, collecting, examining data and deciding on a plan are needed to conduct proper research.

 

 

 

 

Critical thinking

Using your independent mind to evaluate a problem on the GRE or a prompt on TOEFL requires you to break down the argument. Organize your ideas using steps in your process to evaluate the situation. Try to look for patterns, identify facts, and pick up details which permit you to outline your argument and form a solution to the issues presented on the tests.

You need to analyze on the Analytical Writing on the GRE.

As your ability to think critically is essential to college studies, the GRE tests this. You’ll have to evaluate evidence, understand its relevance to the argument, and/or assess the potential bias in the evidence presented in the prompt. You’ll also need to examine the structure of the argument in terms of the evidence given, such as what premise, steps, and/or conclusion are stated. Furthermore, you may be required to distinguish between true and false arguments and notice holes in reasoning.

Let’s contrast the skill in TOEFL.

In TOEFL writing section in the integrated task, the main analysis you’ll need to perform is taking notes as you listen to the speaker focusing on which are the important details that relate to the information in the reading. Then, you’ll use comparison skills to review your lecture notes with your notes from the passage so you can construct your essay with accuracy. Of course, on this integrated task, you will not analyze using your own opinion since you are only focusing on the key details of what you read and mostly presenting what you heard.

In contrast, on the independent writing task, you’ll need to analyze the topic in order to write your opinion on the question, giving a supporting explanation with particular examples and details. You can be creative and make up an opinion if you are in a rush for time.

Moreover, in a professional environment or at the university, this skill comes in handy such as when you are listening to your team or classmates to assess a case.

 

Decision making

Coming to a decision about a specific course of action when different options are presented is essential to getting the best outcome. This skill draws on being careful in your assessment of the situation to be able to predict which choice leads to a successful result. Take the time to reflect on those special moments of key decisions at work or in other important life moments so that you can create vivid stories around those events for your MBA essays and interviews.

This skill comes in handy particularly on TOEFL or GRE. For example, when you respond to a prompt where you need to express your opinion, select an option and analyze making a list of pros or cons.

On multiple choice exams, use the strategy of narrowing down your decision making through a logical process of elimination. On the other hand, in the workplace or at university, take the time to research your selections rather than being too quick to judge.

Focusing on details

If you gain the ability to notice, keep track of and recall details, you’ll be a step ahead of your competitors. So, when you are taking a test, remember to follow directions, avoid written errors, and be careful about evaluating complex ideas. Especially in professional team situations, work needs to be completed in a precise fashion. Emphasizing the earlier example of the integrated writing task on TOEFL, focus on the lecture key points and lecture details related to the reading, which are essential to attaining a higher section score.

A practical detail-oriented work strategy is to be more attuned with your professional environment or with colleagues or classmates to not rush to any conclusions. Take the initiative to speak up to your team, ask detailed questions, and review work to demonstrate a quality approach to resolving any issue.

Whether you are preparing for test taking or the interviewing process, editing your C.V., working professionally, or continuing your studies, you must rely on these skills to enhance your productivity and results. Keep in mind putting these skills into practice each day when you are studying for TOEFL or GRE or getting ready for interviews, so you can land your dream choice.

 

A super common issue on the TOEFL integrated writing section is copying words from the text.

Why is this a bad idea?

The poor habit of copying—any kind of copying, such as a few groups of words or just one sentence will hurt your writing score. Sometimes, you may feel like it’s time-consuming or it poses a risk from potential incorrect wording to write your own words in a paraphrase. However, coming up with a paraphrase from the original source in which you may have improper wording is not going to hurt your score as much as copying.

3 Techniques to Rephrase

Let’s go in-depth how to restate the original source sentence with these techniques:        1) changing word order (moving words or phrases around in the sentence)                            2) modifying word forms (changing a noun to a verb or vice versa)                                              3) finding a synonym (adjusting a word/phrase to something similar)

Sample

Original sentence from text:

Humpback whales migrate long distances.

Techniques:

  1. Changing word order:

Choose one or two words to move to a different place in the sentence, and then make sure the sentence keeps the same meaning. Hint: you may need to add a verb.

Paraphrase:

Humpback whales go long distances to migrate.

Notice the three words moved in changing word order were these: migrate long distances.

In this case, moving the verb migrate and placing that idea at the end of the sentence as an infinitive to migrate necessitates adding a new verb go to be grammatically correct.

  1. Changing word form:

Paraphrase:

Humpback whales go long distances for migration.

In this case, moving the verb migrate and placing that concept at the end as a gerund (-ing form) following a preposition (for) in for migration (a prepositional phrase) necessitates adding a new verb, go.

In these techniques of changing the order of the words or modifying word form, the verb form of migrate was changed using the root base “migrat” converting first, into an infinitive (to + verb), and next, into a gerund (-ing) following a preposition in the phrase.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you’ll need to keep the same meaning as the original.

  1. Changing a word to a synonym or words to synonyms:

Paraphrase:

Humpback whales migrate a far distance.

  • The original word long was replaced with the synonym,
  • The original plural word “distances” was adjusted to singular form distance, dropping the plural -s at the end of the word.

With these two minor word changes, one to a similar word, and another to a plural/singular change, a quick proper rephrase has been created.

Now, you try to paraphrase from another phrase below. Use techniques #1, #2, or #3 above.

Original phrase:

In the case of the humpback whales, we may have found the answer: they may be navigating by the stars, much as early human sailors did.

Practice your paraphrasing.

 

 

OK, let’s do a comparison. We can analyze a paraphrased sample to compare to your practice written response.

Possible paraphrase:

We might have discovered a reason, for in the case of these whales, they used stars to navigate just like early sailors.

Which techniques were used to rephrase in the sentence above? Can you point out technique 1, 2, or 3?

 

Word order                       in the case of whales was moved from the beginning to the middle

Word (verb) form          navigating changed to navigate using the root “navigat” from                                                              an -ing verb ending to an infinitive with to + verb.

Word to synonym         found replaced by discovered; may altered to might

Yes, speed and accuracy are essential in paraphrasing! First, you don’t want to waste time thinking too much when writing since you’ll be in a time crunch. Second, you’ll need to have a similar meaning to the original source. That’s why practicing your rephrasing is valuable to improve your skill. With time using any of these techniques, you’ll be faster and more accurate. If you feel like you are rephrasing too slowly, one of the fastest ways to change the word form or synonym quickly is to look at the main verb or any verb form in the original and adjust the main verb or other verb forms. Let’s take a closer look at how this works quickly.

Original:

Humpback whales seem to be intelligent enough to use stars to navigate by.  

Try your hand at paraphrasing the above sentence by adjusting verbs or verb forms.

Your paraphrase practice:

 

Sample Paraphrases:

Humpback whales are intelligent enough using stars for navigation.

Humpback whales are intelligent enough navigating by stars.

 

If you still find it a challenge to speedily change a verb, then change an adjective or a noun.

Alternative Paraphrase:

Humpback whales seem to be smart enough to use constellations to navigate by.

 

After you’re familiar practicing these techniques to paraphrase better and faster, you may be considering how does re-phrasing influence your integrated writing task result. Be confident that proper paraphrasing does positively impact your score…just as copying lowers it.

When you are short on time, remember that your paraphrase does not have to be perfect like the original writing in the passage, which was written by a professional.

To sum up, if you make it a habit to practice paraphrasing words or phrases from the original text, it will lead to better habits of faster thinking and writing in the language. In both tasks of the writing section, it’s important that you are comfortable writing your own words. In an upcoming post, we’ll analyze how to paraphrase the prompt properly in the independent task.

Finally, if you stay calm and focused, your paraphrasing will improve with practice. Before you know it, you’ll ace your paraphrasing technique on TOEFL writing and in professional business interactions.

Paraphrase Power on TOEFL Writing

You may be contemplating, “Why is critical thinking important on TOEFL? How are critical thinking skills evaluated in the scores? When do I need to employ logic on the test?”

On test day, TOEFL engages your critical thinking ability in different sections. It’s crucial because the way you use logic to analyze and reason in an answer will affect your results.

How?

Writing Section: Independent Task

On the independent task of the writing section of the test, some questions require you to apply skills such as effective analyzing and reasoning. In those cases, you’ll need to think critically to develop your argument. For example, with the agree/disagree questions, your argument or opinion needs to try to persuade the audience you believe in something. To show you’ve thought through a critical response, simply express your opinion with clarity in response to the prompt.

Placement of Thesis

Where does your key argument statement need to be written? In the thesis statement. In the last sentence in your introductory paragraph, you’ll give your reasons to support your view(s.) As you continue writing the independent task essay, all your topic sentences, which start the body paragraphs are reason statements in support of your argument. The ability to create a strong argument with reasonable support leading to a conclusion shows the audience/evaluators whether or not you have skill to develop an essay.

Test Strategy: Careful Evaluation

A key strategy on other sections of the exam is to approach responses by evaluating the best answer. Why? TOEFL avoids answers that are definitely 100% (or contain words that are absolutes) as those don’t require much reasoning. TOEFL wants test-takers to consider questions carefully.

How?

 

Approach

A good approach is to avoid selecting absolute answers. For instance, a typical absolute answer would be a response that has an answer with adverbs like always and never, which are absolutes of 100% definity.

Another fast tactic is to search answers for modal verbs to avoid selecting absolute answers like must. It will increase the possibility of selecting the right answer. Examples of modals are these types of helper verbs: can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would. Modals have varying degrees of possibility to indicate how likely something is to happen. Modals go from one extreme to the other–with absolute requisites on one end like will, must, ought, should, shall and suggestions on the other end of the scale of likelihood with can, could, may, might, would. Avoid responses that include the absolute modal verb must. If you see responses with the strongly suggestive modal verbs should and ought, consider carefully if the issue in the question is of enough importance to select that answer. On the other hand, if you see answers with the modal verbs might and could, those are potentially better answer choices as those are not absolute 100%.

Zone in on Success

Now that you understand why critical thinking is essential on the exam and how it’s assessed in responses, use your critical thinking skills and these strategies accordingly on your next exam for a higher rate of success.

CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS HELP ON TOEFL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Idioms to Focus on

Are you at your wits’ end feeling desperate over which idioms to study for TOEFL?

Learning specific idioms with “take” improves performance on TOEFL and IELTS since these standardized tests are formatted with certain common English expressions.

The challenge for the test-taker comes in understanding the meaning of an idiom in the context of a passage or lecture. Some expressions seem to mean something different than what you might think.

Beat the Test

Improve your skill set of common take idioms. Knowing these expressions helps you understand TOEFL written passages and audio clips where your comprehension skills are tested. You’ll raise your competency by comprehending more details, which in turn, sets you up as a better test performer.

Examples in Context

Get to know these “take” idioms by familiarizing yourself with the examples in context. Dedicate study time to practicing them since they appear on TOEFL again and again. You’ll be at an advantage to get higher scores.

Take on I’ll take it on if no one else can complete the task.
Take notice The boss began to take notice of the worker’s productivity.
Take great pains to do something The parents went through great pains to ensure their daughter had enough money for university.
Take one at one’s word The cashier took the customer at his word when he described why he returned the product.
Take one by surprise The rebels took the army by surprise.
Take one’s time Let’s take our time to get the project done right.
Take one’s turn Wait until everyone has taken their turn.
Take someone at one’s word She invited me to come stay at her place in Rome, so I took her at her word.
Take one’s word for it I took his word for it when he said he had had an accident.
Take someone or something for granted It’s easy to take parents for granted until they’re gone. / I took my health for granted until the day I got sick.
Take someone or something at face value I take everything she says at face value. / The committee took the report at face value and approved the changes.
Take someone or something into account They’ll take his years of service into account when he’s evaluated for a raise. / She’ll try to take into account all the important things.
Take someone or something seriously If you don’t take the work seriously, you’ll be fired.
Take something into consideration They will take your experience into consideration when they decide who gets the job.
Take something lightly I’ve learned to take my work lightly as there are more important things to worry about.
Take something with a grain of salt His advice should be taken with a grain of salt since he doesn’t have much experience in the matter.
Take a beating In 2008, the stock market took a beating.
Take a dive The market took a dive after England’s exit from the EU.
Take it easy Take it easy after a long day of work.
Take it easy on Take it easy on him for missing work as his mother just died.
Take one’s chances Take your chances on oil and gold in the market.
Take the floor He took the floor speaking about pollution.
Take the helm She took the helm as CEO of the company.
Take the initiative The broker took the initiative to buy the stocks early when the market opened.

Step Up Fluency

You can even get practice using these expressions in business communication.

Now that you’ve got 24 new idioms under your belt, you’re a step ahead in fluency. Be confident on your next TOEFL that you’ll understand idiomatic meanings in context when these idioms surface on the exam.

If you were able to use these take idioms in context, feel free to Like this post.

24 IDIOMS FOR HIGH TOEFL RESULTS

18 Idioms for TOEFL and Better Communication

If you’ve been in a vicious cycle taking TOEFL again and again with minimal change in scores, how do you dig yourself out of this–how will you get out of a rut?

  1. Believe. According to Gandhi, “Man becomes what he believes himself to be. If you believe you can do it, you shall acquire the capacity to do it.”
  2. Change the routine. If you have the habit of studying idiomatic expressions once a week, change the habit and study twice weekly to have a better effect.
  3. Alter the approach. If your approach is the process of studying idioms written on index cards, adjust your study tactics from a different angle, for instance, try creating digital flashcards online for new words to have more impact. With a different learning strategy for foreign language acquisition, you’ll tackle new idioms in no time and expand your knowledge of everyday phrases. So, getting to know idioms is one way to advance your language skills.

Here are 18 idiomatic expressions to raise your level on TOEFL, in business communication, and in campus interactions.

Why are idioms important?

Idioms are an important aspect of informal written and spoken English. Using expressions correctly eases effective verbal communication, improving your soft skill. And, as you communicate better with idiomatic language, you show leadership at school, at work, and in business.

With expressions at your fingertips, you’ll draw on accessible phrases to convey points concisely. You’ll also seem savvier to come across like a native. Once you feel comfortable practicing expressions, try using idiomatic phrases to illustrate key points in team meetings, seminar presentations, or group discussions. Furthermore, in test preparation if you are preparing for TOEFL, IELTS or GMAT, broadening your grasp of idioms will be a stepping stone to up your game to the next level. Whether your benchmark is to improve soft skills in business communication or to succeed using the correct expressions on tests, your “idiom database” is an invaluable tool in the process.

How important are idioms on the test?

If you come across an expression you’re not familiar with on the test, it will be hard to understand the sentence or paragraph it’s in. As a result, if you can’t figure out what’s being discussed, it may cause you to lose points. So, yes, idioms are important on the exam.

How are idioms tested on each section of the TOEFL?

Reading & Listening

Idioms will be in the readings (but not a key part) or listening. In passages, for instance, understanding an idiom may help you get the whole meaning context of a college-level text. In a reading, an idiom will be part of a quote or opinion. As such, idioms would be in quotations to show a phrase is different than the typical meaning.

Let’s analyze one test case:

“When truck production began to soar, quality went up and factories reported they had produced less “lemons” than before.”

Here, the expression “lemons” is in quotations, and it means something defective.

Though the TOEFL question will not ask what a “lemon” is, it’s useful to know the expression’s meaning to find the right answer faster.

The next section, the listening section, has the most idioms of all the sections since you’ll listen to campus dialogues of how people speak every day. To improve, focus on becoming familiar with the idioms that have surfaced on past exams.

Speaking & Writing

On the other hand, in the speaking and writing sections, the least number of idioms are found—only in the integrated tasks (speaking questions 3-6 and writing integrated task.) Avoid using an idiom in speaking or writing, only if you have a good knowledge of the idiom. In that case, you might include just one idiom in a speaking response and one in the integrated writing response. No need to use more than one on either of these two sections’ integrated tasks.

Here are six idioms from past TOEFL tests to get to know

  1. Cost an arm and a leg
  2. Butterflies in your stomach
  3. Be on your toes
  4. Time flies
  5. Breeze through something
  6. Get some shut eye

Analyze the meanings of the six idioms in the paragraph below

Taking the TOEFL test every month costs an arm and a leg. When you arrive to take your test, you’ll have butterflies in your stomach. When the test starts, be on your toes. After four hours, time flies, and you feel like you breezed through. It was a long day, and after the test, you go home to get some shut eye.

  1. Is expensive
  2. Feel nervous
  3. Be ready/be prepared
  4. Time goes by quickly
  5. Do something quickly
  6. Sleep

Achieve a better score on the TOEFL in order to get into your dream college. Well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Yes, it may be a challenging task or a difficult road ahead.

Recall that mastering idioms is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s only a small part of the issue.

Keep plugging ahead to applications.

 

 

 

 

Be happy knowing you’re as wise as an owl and familiar with a set of valuable idioms to effectively communicate and advance your soft skills.

So, what are you waiting for? Go practice using them. Time’s a ticking, hurry up!

Now that you’ve gained self-assurance to use some of these new idioms in your speaking, writing, or business communication practice, keep your eyes peeled watching for more useful idioms coming in an upcoming blog post.

5 Steps to Learn Vocabulary

As you wade through your groups of lengthy vocabulary lists, do you feel overwhelmed, as if you forget your new words from your vocabulary list? Are there times when you are frustrated from seeing a word you know you have seen before, but you cannot for the life of you remember what the meaning is? Of course, you realize you have to learn select new vocabulary in English to expand your word base before you take the TOEFL iBT, but are you approaching the process so that you have a distinct advantage?

Perhaps you are now scratching your head and asking yourself what strategies are more useful to quickly acquire a more extensive language base so that you can use that vocabulary efficiently on the TOEFL exam. Or, maybe you know how to encounter new English words in your study sessions, and you have been made aware of those vocabulary by writing them in a journal list to refer to, but your memory fails to recall them when you are reviewing since you have not yet implemented a set strategy of how to recall them over time. Of course, certain ways of remembering work better than simply memorizing a word. Let’s examine five.

  1. Study your new word in context by learning in chunks. Don’t just study one new word alone.

If you write down a word by itself, you will not have the context of where the word may arise in the future, so it will be easily forgotten. In English, we never communicate using only one word. English is commonly communicated in phrases, groups of words or chunks. For instance, instead of memorizing the word “bail” on its own, write down and practice reviewing these phrases “bail her out of jail,” “bail my friend out of trouble,” “bail a company out of its problems” or “bail out a company from debt.” Instead of remembering the single verb “constrained,” recall the phrases “she constrained herself from talking much,” “the ropes constrained the goat” or “he felt constrained by rules.” Each word normally is in a common phrase, so when you remember the group of words that go with the new vocabulary you are trying to recall, you will ensure you will know how to use it accurately in context.

 

  1. Don’t just write them in a vocabulary notebook. Make those words more visible everywhere around you to interact with them.

Put the new words somewhere written down where you will see them as much as possible. For example, put them on poster paper a wall (in front of your desk,) write them in a notebook that you carry with you all the time, place them on your computer desktop screen (to see them repeatedly at a glance on the computer,) have them on your smartphone in a note-taking app to refer to them throughout the day during your downtime. In that way, you can review your new words much more often and recall them more easily than simply sitting down to memorize or review them at a study session.

     3. Don’t overlook using new words daily.

Make an organized effort to use some of the new words in context every day, either in writing or speaking. If you have a short term goal of learning X amount of new words per week, be sure to have another goal of reviewing your words consistently. Take time to attack words on your vocabulary list by selecting a group of ones to use in context daily. The more you attempt to use the new words, the more you have the possibility to retain the meaning of how to use those in the future.

     4. Don’t just focus on similar words, but examine opposites too.

When you encounter a new word choice, not only take down a synonym, but make sure you look up the opposite meaning as well and take note. If you have the synonym and antonym of the new word, it will build your contextual learning base. Your brain will enact a reference point of both extremes, so you can remember more quickly.

      5. Keep “like” words grouped together.

The brain makes connections with “like” ideas, so when you come across a new word and know the meaning is similar to another word, group those words together in your word list so that you can expand your memory of those synonyms.

 

If you enjoyed sharing this advice, read Effective Note-taking for TOEFL Success to score higher test results.

 

 

New Vocabulary Raises TOEFL Success

 

Do you cringe when you encounter new vocabulary in English? Your feeling of dread can change to curiosity by simply following a structured approach when you come across any unknown word choice.

Although the TOEFL® iBT does not have a particular vocabulary section, many of the questions, answer choices, and passages contain difficult word choice. To improve your score substantially, you must increase your vocabulary. If you think studying vocabulary words is not exciting, get motivated to expand your range of words. Tell yourself it’s useful, not only on the test but also in academic life or career wise. Make learning new words fun or challenging so that you do not get bored with the process. What’s an advantage is the same words appear on the TOEFL one year after another. Get your hands on a list of frequent words on the TOEFL to get started. The more words that you recognize and understand the meaning of, the easier the test will be for you. Clearly, vocabulary is not something to avoid in your test prep time. Gear up for your success by creating a strategy how to tackle new vocabulary every day.

How to be organized about learning new vocabulary?

Get in the habit of looking up new words that you come across in reading passages or in listening to lectures. If you make a ritual of writing new word choice in a notebook specifically for that, you can use your notes to review sets of new words acquired so that you retain the information over the long run. If you see or hear a word that you don’t know, it’s probably a valuable word to jot down in your vocabulary journal.

In addition, keep a growing vocabulary list that you can refer to in your study sessions. To begin with, look the new word up online in an online dictionary or use a dictionary app and make a flashcard with the word on the front, the meaning on the back with synonyms and an example in context. Carry these index cards around in your pocket to study during breaks during the day. This is just a start, but rote memorization is not enough. As a language learner, you will benefit if you absorb the words in phrases and expand on them in exercises, so tools such as mnemonics may be useful as an aid. If you keep a routine of expanding your English vocabulary day to day, it will be a valuable asset for communication in your career and beyond.

Of course, flashcards are tools to learn new words, but they are not enough just by themselves so use a valuable smartphone app such as the fun and memory-efficient app Study Blue, which makes remembering your new words much easier.

You must apply those new words in context. Otherwise, you may not recall the new words. So, when you memorize any new words, consider how that word choice typically appears in a phrase or sentence.

  • Is the context more often written or spoken?
  • Is the word choice used in only one way?
  • Is the context where the word is used formal or casual?

The next step is trying to use your new word(s) in a few typical phrases or sentences in context. For fluency, using your word in context has to come naturally, so by practicing how to put the new words in context, it will become second nature.

If you learned something new from this post, check out Accurate Content on the Integrated TOEFL Writing for how to target your writing content.