New TOEFL Changes

Have you heard that the TOEFL test structure is about to change in less than a month? You may be asking yourself “Is the academic content changing? Is the organization of the sections changing? Are the questions changing? Is the timing going to change? When is this happening?” To be specific, only the structure of the test will change—how many questions in each section and the timing. Changes will be on August 1st 2019.

Don’t worry. These test structure changes will be for the better. The test will be shorter with more detailed score reporting, to your benefit, and ETS has published answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs about the shorter TOEFL.)

If you plan to take the exam after August 1, 2019, you will see noticeable changes in the reading, listening and speaking sections that were announced on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) site.

If you have been taking the test since last year, you also may have noticed that the test has had content changes over the course of the past year (though subtle content changes have not been announced by ETS.) So, your best advantage is to know TOEFL changes in advance, so that when you take the exam you won’t be in shock on test day, and you’ll be able to perform at your best to see the results you desire.

Here is a summary of the TOEFL exam upcoming changes on the 1st of August, so take notes.

Time

3 hours with break and administration (no longer 3.5 hours)

Reading Section

Questions

Each passage only has 10 questions (no longer 12-14.) The same questions types will exist, and the number of and style of passages will be the same, with no question types taken out.

Time

52-74 minutes (no longer 60-80 minutes)

 

Speaking Section

Questions

Four questions (no longer 6.) One independent question and three integrated questions will be the same as before.

Question 1 (express a personal preference) and Question 5 (problem/solution; campus situation) will be removed, so you will no longer see those on the test.

Time

17 minutes (no longer 20 minutes)

 

Listening Section

Lectures

Only 3-4 lectures (no longer 4-6) — Number of conversations – no change

Questions – no change

Number of questions won’t change, and the question types will not change either

Time

41-57 minutes (no longer 60-90 minutes)

 

Writing Section – no change (according to ETS)

Though recent trends on the independent task have been noticeable: longer multiple choice questions, the new plagiarism warning, the note about selecting more than one option in multiple choice questions.

Scoring – no change

Still, the score will be out of 120 points, with each section having equal weight of 30.

MyBest Scores change

In August 2019, another good change is happening!

ETS will introduce a big change on your TOEFL report called MyBest Scores report, which will list your best score in each section, so you can take advantage of this feature by taking the test after August 1, 2109.

These structure changes are positive ones since the overall test time will be less. Consider that you’ll be less tired when it comes time to speak in the speaking section or write in the writing section! Take into account that the level of difficulty will be about the same as it has been this year since the content will not change, and it still evaluates your English language development. Keep studying from the same material content as ETS will not publish new materials until later on. While practicing familiar content, continue to hone your skills and test preparation strategies with your eyes on achieving a successful score. To score your desired results, you’ll need to be in sync with the test structure changes to master time management and pace yourself in practice and on test day.

If you have taken the simulation of the new version of the test, feel free to comment giving details on results. If you liked this post, follow to read about MyBest Scores report in an upcoming post.

TOEFL Skills Useful for Life

Have you ever wondered if the skills you are studying for TOEFL are skills you will use after the exam? Would you have need of those skills after the test preparation period? The English skills that TOEFL tests–reading, listening, speaking, and writing—are all needed for both college life in study abroad and for a post-university career. However, the TOEFL exam does not only test your English language skills. Academic skills and test skills are assessed as well. And, those skills also apply to real life.

Assessed Language Skills

The TOEFL exam is formatted is to test various language skills in order to see if you are prepared to encounter all types of campus situations. Reading on TOEFL checks your ability to read nonfiction educational passages at the level of a first-year university student. Listening assesses your ability to hear academic college lectures accurately. In addition, you’ll be tested on how well you listen to and understand campus conversations. The speaking and writing sections have integrated tasks to assess your reading and listening in lectures and/or conversations. Other tasks on these sections test your ability to present a brief speech and to write a short academic essay.

 

Furthermore, reading skills are tested not only in the reading section, but also throughout the other sections. Listening skills required of campus conversations and academic lectures are tested in the listening section, and listening is also incorporated in both the integrated speaking and integrated writing sections. In addition, the integrated tasks in the speaking and writing sections test your receptive skills of reading and listening. And, you’ll summarize academic readings, lectures, and campus conversation. Your summaries will be spoken in the speaking section and will be written in the writing section. To produce language, you’ll use active skills of speaking and writing. In both the speaking and writing sections, your productive skills will be tested. In the independent speaking tasks and writing task, you’ll express yourself through speaking and writing, which you’ll need to do in college.

English Skills for Real Life On Campus and Beyond

When you go abroad to study at a university, getting benefit from the international experience, you’ll use multiple language skills. Not only will you be reading textbooks, you’ll also be on campus looking over bulletins, newsletters, and potentially research announcements. Sitting in class and listening to professors won’t be the only lectures you hear. You’ll tune into conversations all over campus. For instance, to converse with other students in class and on campus, talk to staff at college, and interact with faculty, you’ll enhance speaking communication. Living in a real-life campus environment, you’ll talk and write about all the various topics you read and hear about at the university. To speak effectively in study situations, you’ll need to perfect your techniques, such as giving class speeches or responding in a debate or on a panel. Moreover, your writing skills will be used in writing essays, research proposals or thesis, by emailing letters to classmates, staff, and professors, or by simply sending messages.

At graduation time, when you get a job in an English-speaking environment, all these English language skills from TOEFL preparation will come in handy. Imagine your post-university career, if you need to present to a supervisor or to negotiate as part of a team, you’ll integrate your communication skills. Talking to colleagues or co-workers is similar to having a conversation at the university. If you need to give a presentation at work, it could be similar to a speaking response in TOEFL or a speech from college. At work, you’ll surely need to write reports, emails, project proposals and memorandums, all of which involve TOEFL writing skills.

Academic Skill

In addition to English skills, TOEFL tests academic skills. It’s true some of the above language skills qualify as academic ones too. For example, both a language part and an academic part exist in these tasks: reading passages, listening to lectures, listening and speaking, reading, listening and speaking, and reading, listening and summarizing, and writing essays.

Also, TOEFL evaluates academic skill not related to language. One type is note-taking. On the exam, you’ll have to take notes on lectures and conversations. You’ll be given a note paper to hand write your notes on. The key is to write down notes that are valuable for you to use. Developing effective note-taking skills with speed and accuracy are key to succeeding on three parts: the listening, integrated speaking tasks, and integrated writing task.

During life at school, note-taking is an essential skill in and out of the classroom. So many ways of listening come up–podcasts, audios, videos, webinars, classes, lectures, presentations, conferences, workshops, panels—that you’ll need to take notes on the flood of information.

Post-college, note-taking skills are essential in the workplace. For instance, when in attendance at meetings or conferences, your ability to take notes is valuable. Transforming those notes into reports, proposals, research, projects, or summaries will most likely be an everyday professional occurrence.

Another academic skill evaluated on TOEFL is time management. How do you use your time on various tasks or on each section? Do you allot adequate time for reading? Do you use time well? Do you work well under pressure? How do you perform in a time crunch? Do you adjust your time frame to respond to all the questions? You’ll need to learn how to pace yourself during the exam. So, carefully knowing how to budget your time for tasks such as reading passages, responding to questions, and writing is crucial. A poorly timed situation may result in a lower reading score: if you waste too much time on the first reading passage and questions, you may run out of time on the final reading passage without having sufficient time to answer the questions properly.

In comparison, time management skills at college perfect your ability to get things done. As many activities are happening at the same times and dates, you’ll hone in on how to juggle slots of time to manage productivity in an academic setting, in campus activities or in extracurricular events. With these skills, you can organize time to relax too: to exercise before class or to watch sports after class.

In real life, personal or professional, having the skills to arrange time comes into play. Daily work hours need to be scheduled in, time for chores in your home life need to be planned, or hours to entertain with friends need to be arranged. These days, with the fast-pace of life, time management skills are a must, and you’ll have an edge as you’ll have mastered the art of time during your preparation for TOEFL.

Content development is an additional skill evaluated on the TOEFL exam. In both the speaking and writing sections, you’ll need to plan what content is included and develop ideas. You’ll need to use this skill in many subjects when you attend college. And, you’ll be building content development in your own language too, often for projects in the professional arena.

Organization is a further skill assessed on TOEFL. Again, on the speaking and writing sections, you’ll have to put your ideas in order (such as sequential or logical order) for brief speeches and short essays. If you’ve organized with a clear plan in mind, you can gain a top score. Moreover, organizational skills you learned for the test will enhance your student life at university. Your skills will be employed sorting important papers, not misplacing documents, and effectively using a daily planner. When you finish at school, your organization skills will be put to the test in real life and in the workplace where you’ll have to use checklists, prioritize, and schedule meetings. 

Test Skills

Aside from academic skills, TOEFL assesses test skills. Since it’s a standardized test, it evaluates your testing ability like strategy on how to answer questions and how to approach different tasks. To gain a top score, you’ll need to know the different types of questions in the reading and listening sections. In particular, knowing which multiple-choice questions will come up will give you a better chance of success. TOEFL tends to typically insert some wrong answers to trap you into responding incorrectly. So, you’ll need to become familiar with what the correct kind of responses look like in order to identify the right answers faster. For other strategy, it will help you to understand each type of task on the speaking and writing sections and how to approach each response for the highest rating. If you master the test format in advance of exam day, you’ll put yourself in a better place for scoring highest.

Test skills will also be useful once you are on campus living student life as standardized tests are part of the modern world. For instance, you may plan to apply to grad school. If you are going to attend school for a graduate degree or an MBA, you’ll take standardized tests like GMAT, GRE, job-training tests, work-licensing tests, or tests for certifications to advance your professional career. The multiple-choice sets and design of tasks in each section can be compared to other standardized tests, so building these skills will cross over to life situations. Even more so at university where you’ll need to make use of your strategy skills to approach different subjects on tests during your time in class.

Once you graduate, you’ll again make use of your mastery of test skills in your career. At work, you will need to put into practice different approaches to find an answer or think outside the box to problem-solve. Having learned from past mistakes, you’ll know which direction not to proceed in future endeavors.

Relevance to Real Life

The test-makers have created basic questions and tasks that simulate real life language situations because you’ll encounter those tasks after the test. Though you may not think so now during your extended study hours, rest assured the skills you are honing for TOEFL now–English language, academic, and test skills—are relevant to daily life beyond the exam. Those skills will be able to be put to use in your life after TOEFL, both at university and at work.

Don’t Worry, It’s Easy to Write Concise Sentences

9.21“Less is more” in writing English. When you construct sentences to create a paragraph, each sentence should be trimmed down to only what is necessary to clearly communicate your point.

Do you find yourself struggling to create a simple, clear way of writing your ideas in English? On the TOEFL exam writing section, especially on the independent task, eliminating wordiness can raise your score.

Here are four efficient tips to make your sentences concise.

  1. Do not repeat the same idea twice.
  • Many uneducated adults who never went to primary school vote for improving the school system.

Examples of wordy phrases and how to trim them down.

REDUNDANT CONCISE
A lot of many
In recent times now
There is no doubt that No doubt
Personally, I think I think
Each and every each
A total of 10 pets 10 pets
In a period of five days Five days
One and the same The same
Of particular interest Interest
In the event that If
At 12 noon At noon
A person who is smart A smart person
At 1AM in the morning At 1AM
New innovations innovations
In the field of business In business
He is a person who… He
In spite of the fact that… Even though
In the event that… if

 

  1. Delete phrases that do not add value to your writing
Delete unnecessary phrases
In other words,
Type of
Kind of
In the case of
By means of
In the event that
Have a tendency to
For the most part
As far as I’m concerned,
By virtue of the fact that
It seems that
Due to the fact that
For all intents and purposes
At the present time,
All things considered,
In light of the fact that
As a matter of fact,
…because of the fact that…
Which exists
For the purpose of
In a manner of speaking

 

  1. Avoid weak adverbs, choosing instead strong active verbs. The best effect is to use adverbs sparingly or only when necessary.
  • Really, very, mostly, severely

 

  1. Avoid there is/are or it is
  • There are 25 colleagues in the office. à 25 colleagues are in the office.
  • There is a mess. à A mess exists.

In short, concise writing does not equal short sentences. You can still go into detail in body paragraph development. Aim for clear ideas by deleting unneeded words and phrases.

If you enjoyed this blog, you’ll like Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay.

 

Improve English Writing Skills Easily

imagesIf you need solid writing skills for a university graduate school program or for business, you can improve with practice and determination. Top writers are not born, but bred. Take time, and with practice, you can become a writer with fluent style. What you need to start with is determination.

Though you may need to push yourself at writing to top the TOEFL writing section or to succeed on the AWA of the GRE or the GMAT in order to get accepted into a school program, you can succeed with practice. It’s just like running a marathon. The more you practice, the better you will become.

Some tips you can follow to improve your English writing skills are these:

  1. Keep your writing organized in one place, for example, in computer files if you write on the computer. In that way, you can refer back to your previously writing to go over errors and to notice steps to improve upon. Be sure all the documents are well-ordered so that you can examine how much you are improving over time.
  2. Practice writing English every day. If you make a daily habit of writing, it will become a ritual in your study session. You will see significant improvement when you are dedicated to becoming a better writer. However, if you never take the opportunity to write or even save the writing that you do, you cannot create solid stories. Even writing English five minutes a day will create a pattern that will become as natural as brushing your teeth.
  3. Write on any topic

Avoid getting stuck with writer’s block. Think about what topic to write on by using topics that are easy to have an opinion on. The independent topics on the TOEFL exam are a set list of topics which you can write on to develop your viewpoint on specific themes. If you are studying for GRE, the AWA has Issue essay topics and Argument topics which you can also write about in essay format. If you are planning on taking the GMAT, you will need to be familiar with the AWA. A pdf downloadable list of Analysis of the Argument topics also can help you with practice.

  1. Revise your first written draft

Once you finish writing your essay, take time to look over your writing to correct the grammar errors and revise the ideas for clarity.

  1. Use resources or online links to correct your English grammar

Many resources exist to check your English grammar. For instance, in Word, you can turn on the spell and grammar check or the thesaurus. Online, you could plug in your essay to be grammatically corrected. Review the errors and make a point not to make the same mistakes in the next essay.

  1. Write from different perspectives

It is not interesting to practice writing on the same topic, so write about different topics by shifting your perspective. First, write about one side, and then consider writing on the opposing standpoint. Think about diverse viewpoints that you can argue in an essay. Be creative when presenting your argument.

In addition, you could practice writing by summarizing other viewpoints from written or lecture sources such as in readings or lectures. For example, you may listen to a lecture and write a summary about that listening. Or, you might read an article online that interests you, and then you could summarize the key points in the passage from the author’s perspective.

  1. Have another person edit your writing

A person who knows English fluently can be helpful in editing your essays. If you know one who is capable of the task, ask him/her to check your writing. As well, a teacher who is an expert at English writing can give you insight into how to strengthen your sentences and paragraphs and offer additional ideas how to generate development in your writing.

  1. Locate a quiet study space to write

If you find it difficult to start writing, tidy up your study space to create an ideal study environment: a clean, quiet zone. Be sure that the place where you are sitting down to write is free of noise and comfortable. Avoid being distracted at your desk so you can form tunnel vision and focus in on your topic.

Since writing is a process, the more you do it, the better you will become. If you like this article, try reading: Why Am I Not Improving English?