4 TOEFL and 27 GMAT Idioms

How might idioms surface on the TOEFL and GMAT? Let’s look.

On TOEFL, in the listening section, you may hear idioms. Or, you could use idiomatic expressions on the speaking and writing sections–only if you can use them naturally and correctly. Using no idiom is better than using the wrong idiom. Get to know four idioms that have come up.

  1. “I’m broke.”  Be broke = not having money (used when one can’t afford to pay)
  2. “I’m in the black.” In the black = profitable (financially break-even)
  3. “The school was in the red.” In the red = unprofitable; operating at a loss
  4. “She’s in over her head.” In over one’s head = is deeply involved (has issues)

On GMAT, you’ll be tested on idioms in a different manner.

GMAT places idioms in the verbal section in sentence correction questions. Those types of questions give a sentence that has an underlined part and makes you choose between replacements for the part that’s underlined.

On questions with idioms, usually there’s an idiom that’s used incorrectly in the sentence and a grammar rule that’s broken. Look for the correct answer that has proper grammar and correct idiom.

Three principal errors:

  1. An incorrect preposition with an idiom
  2. Improper comparison
  3. Correlative conjunctions (Correlatives are a pair of short words or phrases though separated in a sentence such as either/or, neither/nor, both/and, not only/but also, rather/or.)

1. Idioms with prepositions:

Many of the idioms on GMAT have the wrong preposition (i.e. of, from, to, at, for, with) in the phrase. Pay close attention to both the use of the idiom and the grammar for errors.

Process of choosing the correct answer:

First, use process of elimination to catch grammar errors; after that, narrow down the multiple choices in the answers and look at the idiom errors to choose what makes sense.

2. Incorrect comparison:

Review comparison rules (more) how to compare things to each other, and be sure to look out for superlatives (the most) when 3+ items are compared. Often, incorrect phrases are listed in the comparison. Look for clues in a response such as a word like “more” to identify the error or proper usage.

The most common patterns that you’ll notice are the following:

  • compared to X, Y, (Compared to the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty is bigger.)
  • X more than Y (You study more intensively than she does) or a comparative adverb phrase (You study more productively than her,) Joe follows (verb + direct object) basketball +more closely than Matt does.
  • X is different from Y, (X/Y most often are replaced with nouns)
  • in contrast to X, Y (In contrast to Obama, Trump is a Tweeter.)

3. Analyze Correlatives:

  • Either x or y {join two nouns, verbs, adjectives, phrases, or clauses}
  • Neither x nor y {join two nouns, verbs, adjectives, phrases, or clauses}

 

  • Both x and y               (yes x/yes y)       {for GMAT, often in parallel verb phrases, infinitives (both to come and to go), participial phrase, gerund (both coming and going)}             [not for linking independent clauses]
  • Not x but y (no x/yes y)
  • Not only x but also y (yes x expected/yes y additional) [Mozart was not only a renowned pianist, but also a phenomenal composer.]
  • Not just x but also y (yes x expected/yes y additional)
  • Not so much x as y (yes x less so/y yes more in degree of comparison)      {for GMAT, used for nouns, infinitives, gerunds, prepositional phrases}   [format: subject + do not so much + prepositional phrase x as prepositional phrase y]     [Obama is remembered not so much for his campaign, “Change,” as for his terms as President.]                   idiom: be remembered for

  • Between x and y {x and y are nouns or gerunds [-ing] on GMAT}               [The names Great Britain and the United Kingdom are often used interchangeably, however, there is a difference between GB and the UK.]              GMAT idioms: difference between, distinction between or distinguish between x and y.  [Atheists do not distinguish between being skeptical about God and disbelieving.

 

  • Just as x, so y {to connect two independent clauses}    [Just as Shakespeare was the greatest British poet, so Edgar Allan Poe was the best American poet.]

 

  • For every x, y (nouns) {idiom used in economic, math, political contexts}            [For every $100. spent locally on business, $60 will stay in the community. For every vote Newsom wins in Northern California, he’ll lose two votes in Southern California.]

27 Common GMAT Idioms

Study these not only for the meaning of the examples but also for the correct usage in context.

1. A debate over A debate over the ingredients in the dish went on and on.
2. Account for The grocer accounted for 270 items on the shelves.
3. Accuse of The assailant was accused of murder.
4. Acquaint with (someone or something) He is acquainted with Robert Frost and poetry.
5. A means to (something i.e. an end) The money-saving App is only a means to an end, financial freedom.
6. A responsibility to (someone) The new mother has a responsibility to nurse the baby every few hours.
7. A result of (something) The champion’s win is a result of his dedication to practice.
8. Ability to The quadriplegic has no ability to walk.
9. Act as The headmaster hired a substitute to act as teacher when the instructor was out with a virus.
10. Act like Teens act like there’s no tomorrow.
11. Afflicted with (something) He was afflicted with a pinched nerve in his spine.
12. Agree on (something) Let’s agree on resolving the issue.
13. Agree to (something) We agreed to the fund-raising campaign.
14. Agree with (someone) The mother agreed with her son on politics.
15. Aid in Athletic coaches aid in being a role model for sportsmanship.
16. Aim at something Be sure to aim at the bullseye to reach your target.
17. Aim to do something Aim to reach your objective before the end of the year.
18. Allow for The bus can’t allow for restroom breaks.
19. Amount to Elon Musk amounted to becoming a significant leader.
20. Appear to The star appeared to be too skinny in the movie role.
21. Are in danger of The glaciers are in danger of melting.
22. Argue with The police argued with the pedestrian over jaywalking.
23. As/as I am as productive as she is.
24. Ask for The team leader asked for support on the legwork.
25. Associate with We associate cranberries with Thanksgiving.
26. Attend to (someone) The grandson attended to his grandmother in the hospital.
27. Attribute x to y We can attribute heart disease in part to obesity.

To improve your grasp of TOEFL and GMAT idioms, look up more examples of the idioms in this post. For TOEFL, find ten idioms you can use well and memorize them. You could work one naturally into one of your speaking tasks (or independent writing task.)

Keep reading every day since the best way to learn idioms either for TOEFL or GMAT is to understand them in context.

5 Key Actions to Listen Better

jackrabbit-listening

The jackrabbit pushes its ears forwards and listens, because sounds change. Their key action is presence. We can follow the cues of this animal when we listen.

How good are you at listening?

Give yourself a score on a scale of 1-10.

How effectively are you attuned to your clients, your team, your classmates, or your business colleagues? Are you asking the appropriate questions? How well do you comprehend lectures?

Effective listening will help you in business interactions, on exams, in classes, in supporting your team, in group discussions, and in interviews.

5 Key Actions

  1. Be present.

Take a breath. Focus on the speaker. Face the person. Hear the person speak. Maintain eye contact and lean forward if in person.

If you are listening to a video such as on the TOEFL exam or IELTS, this it he first step of intake. If you are in person, this is the start of a two-way relationship where you can take what you hear and proceed in the interaction.

  1. See the words.

Associate the lecturer’s words with a visual in your mind to trigger your memory. Visualization is a memory tool. If you picture what it being said, you’ll remember more information since the subconscious mind recalls visuals.

  1. Feel the emotion.

If you feel the lecturer’s emotions, you can notice how deep of concern the lecturer has for the issue. For instance, on integrated writing task in TOEFL, listening for emotion in the speaker’s voice may be a tactic to discern key points.

  1. Listen for pauses.

In a test-taking listening opportunity such as on the integrated speaking or writing tasks on TOEFL, pauses in a lecture may signal an important point to come, so take note of what follows.

In an interactive situation, on the other hand, don’t interrupt. Pay attention to whether the speaker is finished before speaking.

  1. Respond on target.

In an interview, after paying careful attention to the speaker’s question, you’ll be invited to respond on the topic.

On the contrary, in a pair, group, team, or audience situation where you’ve listened to a speaker, be clear before responding by first asking, “Can I give input/feedback?” “Could I make a suggestion?” so as to not offend.

Practice Actions

Begin by practicing action step one, being present to attune your ears.

Then, each day add another action step. You’ll be able to make progress in listening.

With experience in this method on the TOEFL exam, in classroom discussions, and in conducting business, you’ll gauge your enhanced listening skills.

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.