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.

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.

Beat Test Anxiety with a Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you in a time crunch? Do you feel stressed out or are you in a bind?

If you have a couple days before your TOEFL® iBT exam, feel hope. Take a bit of time to lower your anxiousness about the test. To keep your anxiety under wraps, you need to prepare mentally. Since you know that you have prepped sufficiently before the exam day, you can reduce your feelings of nervousness so that come exam day, you will be mentally strong. A few key study tips are useful if you still continue to struggle with some anxiety about the day of the exam and the outcome:

Breathe. And again. Take a deep breath. Focusing on the breath will take the stress away from thinking about the actual test.

Know what you have to do, and concentrate on how you can get it done well in time. Look at your calendar, and the day you will take your test. Count how many days or weeks remain before you take the plunge. Highlight your test day in yellow. Don’t panic! Maybe your nerves are feeling jittery just thinking about that day. Take a breath and put your anxiousness aside. When you confront the test day with confidence, you are forced to know what time you have left before the date. Assess exactly how much time you have prior to your test. Is it days or weeks? This step gives you a sense of what you need to plan for, so you can take more control over your nerves. Feel confident, because even if only two days exist before your upcoming test, you still have the opportunity to prepare.

Now that you know the exact time frame of how many days or hours you have prior to taking your TOEFL, create a detailed study plan for reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary. Take a pen and journal, or in your notebook or weekly calendar, come up with a plan with study sessions that addresses the priorities you want to get done in the time frame left. How long will you spend on each skill? Whichever skill is your weakest, practice that first to improve upon it. Even practice it longer than you work on other skills. Humans often tend to procrastinate what overwhelms… and the skill that is your weak point is a daunting task. How will you organize your practice sessions to maximize effectiveness? Do not stray from your plan even if you feel overwhelmed. Re-focus your brain to stay on track and get whatever needs to be done completed within the time frame. After you finish every study session, you will feel more confident that you accomplished what you had planned out in advance, which lowers your level of worry.

Short on time? If you just have a few days before your test, make a plan to study numerous hours every day or more for each of the days left. If you have a few weeks, create a study plan for minimum an hour and a half per day or several hours at various times every week.

What not to do when you fine tune your schedule? When you are setting your study time, avoid a plan to study the night before the exam. The day before the exam should be used as a day of rest so that your mind stays fresh for the test date. You don’t want to be lacking concentration during the listening or speaking sections, do you? You wouldn’t want to run out of steam when you get to the final section, writing, either. So, in your plan, budget the last day before the test as a resting day, with minimal focus on studying. Rather, relaxation will help your mind be at ease and loosen your anxiety.

Prioritize what you need to do first by using a study guide. What are you going to tackle during each study session? For how long? Since the exam covers such a wide range of material, you want to make sure you face each skill during your study sessions. If you have test anxiety, maybe it’s because you do not know where to begin. You may feel overwhelmed with too many parts to study at once. This is where prioritizing comes in handy. To reduce your nervousness, attack the study materials by making a checklist of what you must study first as the most important to the least important. Stick to that order. How to know what is the most important? If you use a study guide with practice questions or a sample test, you can pinpoint your weaknesses. Address your weak areas first. In this way, you can use your study time more efficiently.

Finally, you need to hit the books. Study! So, if your study plan has a time frame of two hours, then get to work. Sit down and follow your plan. Do not procrastinate, not even 15 minutes. It would increase your anxiety level as the exam day approaches. If you mentally feel like putting it off, just remember your ultimate goal of success. Paint a mental picture of getting to your objective. Know that you will reduce your test anxiety by putting your study plan into effect effectively.

 

If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy Use Technology for Proficiency in English.

 

Easy Grammar Rules to Improve TOEFL Writing

Have you been studying grammar rules a long time and still fail to improve your sentence structure, variety, and writing style? On the TOEFL writing section, knowing the parts of speech and select grammar rules to create structured, clear sentences helps advance your writing style. The parts of speech are the following:  noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, and conjunction. If you master how sentences are formed and vary vocabulary in your sentences, you’ll be on your way to smoother essay writing. Here are a few of the most basic and crucial grammar rules are related to sentence structure:

  1. Subject/verb agreement is either singular or plural.
  2. A sentence, also called an independent clause, needs a subject and verb in a complete (logical) idea.
  3. A clause, either dependent or independent (like a sentence,) has a subject and verb.
  4. A stand-alone independent clause that completes a thought is a sentence.
  5. A clause which does not have a complete idea (such as when I study…) is dependent because it relies on the other independent part of the sentence to be complete: When I study, I sit for an hour.
  6. A phrase is a group of words that does not have a subject and verb. Common phrases in English are prepositional phrases or noun phrases.

Stay tuned for more English grammar points to improve your sentence structure and writing.

 

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.