Know TOEFL Reading Question Types Inside Out

Have you ever run out of time on the TOEFL reading section?

If you know the question types inside out, you can master the technique of how to identify each question to answer quickly, and you’ll beat the test.

Time Management and Focus

You’ll need to manage a new approach to organize your minutes more effectively during this section of the exam. Better management of your time will give you the opportunity to answer more questions correctly, thus leading to a higher section score.

Reading skill is tested on three sections of the TOEFL, so if you improve your English reading speed and comprehension with daily practice such as reading timed online academic articles, skimming, scanning, note-taking and paraphrasing, you’ll improve your overall TOEFL score.

The time is 60-100 minutes in the entire reading section with 36-70 questions of three academic passages of 600-800 words each. You’ll need to manage time of 20 minutes per passage. All topics focus on college subjects, so in your daily study time, practice academic texts of equal word count length in a similar time-frame. All questions are one point, except the last question in each passage set worth more than one point. Do not spend too much time on any one question. Use equal time to identify the answer, since they are all the same amount of points; and if needed, use process of elimination to narrow down the correct choice.

Of the four academic sections tested on TOEFL—reading, listening, speaking, writing–reading is the first skill tested. Since it’s the initial section, it may still be noisy at the test center with incoming test takers. So, you’ll need to focus attentively to not be distracted by surrounding noise. If you find yourself getting distracted by surround sound, put those headphones on to help block out the test center environment so you can zoom in on the reading content.

Accuracy in Skimming for Gist and Speed in Scanning for Details

Skimming the passage is useful to find the main idea in the first paragraph and pinpoint the meaning and to look for the key points (in key words) in the first sentences of body paragraphs. Once you have skimmed for the gist of the passage, begin to tackle the questions. Another technique, scanning, is also helpful. By scanning the question (key words) and referring back to the exact location in the passage, you can note specific details in order of what will be questioned. Your plan of attack can be to answer question by question in order, as questions will refer to the same order as the location of answers in the passage.

 

The Importance of Recognizing Question Types

Have you ever felt stumped on a reading question and lost time? Do you know how to recognize and answer all different types of passage questions?

What’s more, knowing the types of questions you will encounter and identifying each type of question on the reading section will help you answer correctly and speed you through each passage in a timely manner.

Try to wrap your head around the different types of reading questions in your preparation study, thus inching you closer to the highest section score on exam day.

 

Reading Question Types:

Vocabulary

Sentence meaning

Sentence insertion

Stated or unstated details  – Factual and negative factual information

Inferences and rhetorical purpose

OrganizationProse summary and fill in a table

Pronoun reference

You’ll be asked what a highlighted word refers to. If it is a pronoun, you need to identify the word the pronoun is replacing i.e. know what each pronoun refers to in the passage. Most often, the words are subject or objective pronoun, demonstrative pronouns or possessive adjectives (it, they, them, these, those, this, that, its, their.)

Question Types Strength and Weakness:

How can you improve your speed and accuracy in answering questions?

Question types that are your strength, you’ll answer more quickly, and question types that are your weakness, you’ll take a longer time to respond to.

Thus, identify your strength in questions type above (which ones you answer correctly in past exams or practice) and your weakness (which ones are challenging that take longer to answer or that you got wrong on past practice or exams.)

Your Strength question types: _____________________________________________

Reflect on how you’ll identify these faster and answer faster:

_____________________________________________________________________________

Your Weakness question types: ____________________________________________

Consider how to improve on these with a new/different approach in practice and on the real test.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Tackle each weakness question type by addressing how to change your approach to answer correctly. For instance, do not use the same approach as you did before if you got those wrong. Consider what you could be doing better to improve speed and accuracy.  Once you figure out how to answer correctly, approach the weak question types by process of elimination, and take notes of those question numbers and your choice response(s), as you can go back to those later if you have a bit of time. If you use process of elimination, you’ll eliminate choices for a higher percentage rate. In study time, practice more of those types of questions to get ready with your new approach.

If you aim to answer 100% correct on your strength question types on practice questions, you’ll save time by going quickly through your strength question types with added confidence.

For more tips on how to approach answering each type of reading question type, stay tuned for strategy and details in upcoming posts. If you learned insight about reading question types in this post, give this post a thumbs up.

Fun Common Idioms on TOEFL Listening

 

Have you ever let the cat out of the bag? You have if you’ve ever told someone a secret. Just picture a closed bag holding a secret and a cat jumps out telling that secret.

One way to help you master common idioms on TOEFL is to visualize the idiom and link it to the meaning so it stays in your memory.

Idiomatic expressions are often heard in conversations on the listening section. Yet, if you don’t know what the idioms mean, you may be lost and answer incorrectly, leading to a lower score. To score higher, get to know common idioms that have surfaced on previous TOEFL.

Here are five common TOEFL idioms to practice their meanings.

Let the cat out of the bag                       to tell a secret

 

Once in a blue moon                     (something that happens) rarely

 

 

 

Be on the fence                              undecided; to have not formed an opinion yet

 

 

Raining cats and dogs                   Raining hard, a downpour

 

 

 

 Take a rain check                            Postpone a plan

 

 

Examples:

Let’s examine each of these five idioms in a sentence to grasp how each may be used in context.

  1. I’m in the library every night, so I only go to a party off campus once in a blue moon.
  2. The professor let the cat out of the bag about exactly what was coming up on the final exam.
  3. During the campaign, I was on the fence which student candidate served others better.
  4. It was raining cats and dogs, so I couldn’t walk around campus without an umbrella.
  5. I studied late, so I took a raincheck on going out to the mixer.

Now, it’s your turn. Read the following sentences, and select the correct idiom to insert in context.

  • He’d known he was taking a risk when he ___________________________.
  • During the storm, some of the plazas around campus became rivers of water since it was _____________________.
  • I’ll ___________________________ on that meetup since I plan to study until midnight.
  • The university put on a performance _______________________________.
  • After she’d listened to both sides of the argument at the campus debate, she was still_________________ .

Answers:

let the cat out of the bag, raining cats and dogs, take a rain check, once in a blue moon, on the fence

The next step in practice is to try out these idioms speaking to colleagues, so that you use them correctly before the exam.

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.

Paraphrase Power on TOEFL Writing

 

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.

24 IDIOMS FOR HIGH TOEFL RESULTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.