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.

 

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Quick Steps to Paraphrase on TOEFL

 

You may feel frustrated if you struggle on how to paraphrase accurately on the TOEFL® iBT exam on the integrated writing and speaking sections. Luckily, if you follow a couple of simple techniques, you can polish your skills in no time.

What is a paraphrase?

A paraphrase is when one explains information from a specific source in one’s own words. It highlights the principal ideas, and it may be more specific than a summary.

Why is paraphrasing important on the TOEFL® iBT?

With the capability to paraphrase, you will have an advantage on the integrated writing and speaking sections of the exam. Once you understand the key ideas, paraphrasing will help you recall those points from the texts and lectures. Furthermore, it is a valuable skill, which will maximize your success in your academic studies.

How do I create an accurate paraphrase in my own words?

To paraphrase, you first need to understand the original meaning and have effective notes, so review note-taking techniques.

  • Take notes while reading or listening. Do not write sentences. Simply write the main idea in abbreviated form.
  • Look over your notes. Consider how you could explain the key points in your notes to an individual who hasn’t read or listened to the information that you did.
  • Write (or speak) your main ideas substituting synonyms, different sentence structures, alternate word forms, or other word order. For instance, rather than write an original verb, change that verb to a similar noun form in an altered structure or new order, but keep the same idea. Then, make similar relationships between key points and details from your notes.

How do I acquire and master paraphrasing skills?

  • Read passages and listen to lectures.
  • Take notes, but avoid copying words or phrases from the source (this will save you time in the writing period); use synonyms when you note take. Do not change the meaning in your notes, do not forget to take notes on key ideas, and do not add your own ideas to the source information.
  • Refer to your notes to present the key idea. Simplify the structure and words.
  • When you are paraphrasing a practice reading passage, go back to the passage to review if you paraphrased the principal ideas accurately. In study practice, you can listen to a lecture again to see if you paraphrased your notes well, however, on the exam day, since you only listen to the lecture once, you will be unable to refer to the lecture source.

 When I’m under pressure taking the exam, how do I PARAphrase quickly?

  • Put information into your words
  • Avoid copying
  • Reflect the same ideas or Rearrange similar text
  • All key points included

Sample Paraphrases:

Original text:

There are times when people copy ideas from internet because they have no idea how to paraphrase.

Paraphrase A:

At times, since individuals do not understand how to rephrase, they repeat things word for word from the web.

Alternate Paraphrase B:

Individuals duplicate word for word from the web at times since they do not understand how to create a paraphrase.

The Owl Purdue Online Writing Lab has paraphrasing practice.

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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.

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GMAT Verbal Sentence Correction Tips

Verbal

Verbal

Have you taken the GMAT once and felt that you want to raise your verbal score? Did you have difficulty getting through the sentence corrections? If so, consider your recent GMAT as a practice run to familiarize yourself with timing. To improve before your next attempt on GMAT verbal section, get strategies for sentence correction and implement those techniques in your daily studies to advance. Concentrate on content and timing.

Shoot for how much you need your verbal score to improve on your next exam by calculating how long you have to improve your score. Then, come up with a study plan focusing on sentence correction techniques and reading quickly to gain a foot forward. During your time frame for verbal improvement, review challenging questions in practice and dissect these to examine what insight you need to resolve simple concepts.

Analyze a sentence correction question:

  1. What is the verbal trying to test?
    1. Categorize a question by topic and subtopic, by process/technique (i.e. idiomatic expressions, parallel structure, modifiers)
    2. Practice taking apart the structure in a sentence to understand the structural core of the sentence (subject – verb – object…) If you do not see the entire core at once, start with identifying a pattern of where the subject is, and then identify the verb, and so forth.
    3. Understand the content (facts, knowledge)
  2. How well did you answer what was tested?
    1. Did you do the best approach? Or is there a better approach to respond to the problem? How can you remember the better approach the next time you get a similar problem?
    2. Did you use skills to follow through?
      1. Either give up if it’s too hard for the timing (and answer quickly) or give an extra 30 seconds to figure out the core.
    3. Did you make careless errors?
      1. Why did you make each error?
        1. What can you change to minimize the chance of repeating the same future error?
          1. Read the whole sentence using your chosen answer to notice if something is not right
          2. How do you look for traps or “trick questions” that are in the question such as incorrect answers?
          3. What steps do you take to ensure you made an educated guess?
        2. Do you recognize a pattern?
          1. Do you make a connection to the last time you saw a similar question to answer correctly…what was similar with other problems?
            1. What have you done in the past that is similar? How? How could that help you to do the problem more efficiently and effectively?
            2. How can you notice similar problems? What can you do to maximize your chance of remembering?

 

Strategies to enhance your skills to improve sentence correction:

  1. Read through the correct answers
    1. Do not go through and actually do the problems, simply read through the wording of the correct answers. Since GMAT has a set writing style, by reading through the right answers, you will get an idea of the correct answers. In this way, you may be able to learn better how to eliminate choices if any choice appears that does not conform to the GMAT set writing pattern.
    2. Be careful, because you should not use this as your principal technique for doing “process of elimination” of answers. Only guess if you cannot identify other grammatically formal ways to eliminate answers quickly.
  2. Write your own sentences involving the same types of errors
    1. Do not try to include all the same error types that appear in each problem [or you might end up with sentences that are copies of the ones in the problem], but try to include at least a couple.)
  3. Make flash cards of the problems (on one side of the card, color code each split between the answer choices in a different color with a highlighter, and on the back of the card in the same highlighted color write a short explanation.
    1. Colors are an easy way to recognize different explanations, telling them apart, when you put lots of splits on the back of a flashcard.

When the actual test day arrives, actively resolve to identify less perceptible logic and grammatical errors.

 

Caution with timing:

Spending much time on early questions may hurt, not help your score. Otherwise, you may run out of time and leave some questions unanswered at the end of a section. As unanswered questions are counted as incorrect, move at a steady pace to get through the entire section rather than concentrating on any particular subset of questions. Even those with high levels cannot sustain accuracy through the first eight questions. So, give every question you r best shot, but do not let any one group of questions drive your test performance, and avoid spending way too much time on the first eight questions or you may have to race to finish the section, a poor choice.

If you like this blog, check out this post Rules How to Use a Semicolon Accurately in the English Language.

Top Strategies for Excellent TOEFL Writing

Do you struggle with how to best tackle which way to go about improving your essays on the TOEFL writing section? To beat both the integrated and independent in the writing section, a few straightforward strategies go a long way to boost your section score.

Are you typing at least 40 words per minute? Of course, you can type faster improving your ability through typing sessions. First, make sure to practice typing your English writing on a QWERTY computer keyboard. Since you will need to type in your task responses, the faster and more accurate you type on the keyboard, the better you can focus on writing a quality essay. Touch typing without looking at the keyboard will give you an advantage since you will be able to think in English while not looking at the letters on the keyboard. Type daily for consistent practice with speed and no errors. Aim for 55 words per minute. Some websites for English typing test speed and practice are these:

The Principles of Touch Typing

http://www.typingtest.com/touch-typing.html

Typing tutor

http://www.speedtypingonline.com/typing-tutor

Typing Tests

http://10fastfingers.com/typing-test/english

http://www.keyhero.com/free-typing-test/

http://typing-speed-test.aoeu.eu/?lang=en

http://www.powertyping.com/typing_test/typing_test.shtml

Timing, of course, is critical in each writing task. When you first start practicing, you may feel slow and not be efficient in finishing your essay on time within 20-30 minutes, depending on the task. Every time you practice a simulated timed writing, you will get closer and closer to finish your essay in time, so that by the time the exam day rolls around, you are confident and comfortable to complete your tasks in the given time frame.

It’s important to also make a strategic plan to expand your vocabulary day by day. Maintain a vocabulary list in a notebook with new words and use review time daily to learn the words. Attempt to use those words in your essay practice when your writing is checked by a native speaker.

While you are practicing writing, look at your vocabulary list and use some of those words in context in your writing. Write in a style which has a variety of grammar structures. Using alternative word choices and various sentence structures, you can master how to write them effectively. The raters of the exam count a variety of word choice and sentence variety as higher level writing.

Next, formulate your essay structure so it’s well-organized with an introduction, body and conclusion, and be sure to use that structure in practice and on the actual test day. Each of the three parts of an essay has structural aspects to follow so that each paragraph in the essay is ordered logically and flows smoothly.

After you learn the structure, familiarize yourself with how to organize the content in the essay. There is a planning stage, a writing stage, and a revision stage. During the planning time of 3-5 minutes, you create a mapping of ideas or an outline before beginning to write the essay. A solid planning such as idea mapping saves time during the writing period because all your ideas will already be organized. The planning stage has key words from the question, a list of mapped out phrases of reasons, examples, and supporting details of ideas for the body paragraphs (2-3.) Do not write sentences, only write words or phrases to create an order of ideas so that you can refer to your planning to develop a clear, logical, and well-organized essay.

Know how to successfully write with connecting ideas, in particular, use transitions or phrases to introduce a reason or point, to give an example, to contrast an idea, to switch from one idea to another, to give more supporting information such as details, or to conclude. Some transition words are the following: first, second, next, in addition, moreover, for example, for instance, in contrast, on the other hand, to conclude, and to sum up. A list of transition words and phrases to be familiar with is at Study Guides and Strategies link.

How far have you come? Reflect on your writing advancement. Have a native English teacher or editor give you feedback on your writing according to the writing scores for TOEFL. Use the accurate input to get better on your writing techniques. Implement strategies to help you advance even further so that your writing progress is faster to get your goal.

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How an Explanation Essay is Easy to Write

8.31.15Have you ever had to write an explanation of an event?Taking the TOEFL exam, the writing section is divided into two tasks, one of which is the independent writing. You may get an explanatory writing question. In this category of topics, you will be required to present a specific viewpoint or perhaps write about a particular situation. Be sure to explain your standpoint or viewpoint of the situation in detail. In an explanation essay, it is different than an argument, since you will analyze. You may give analysis through comparison/contrast or by definition/example. Get to know the explanation topic list below in order to know the topic that you might face come test day.

Explanation Prompts:

164 People attend college or universities for many different reasons. Why do you think people attend college or universities? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

165 Nowadays food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

166 How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

167 Many people visit museums when they travel to new places. Why do you think people visit museums? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

168 A person you know is planning to move to your town or city. What do you think that person would like and dislike about living in your town or city? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.

169 Choose one of the following transportation vehicles and explain why you think it has changed people’s lives. Automobiles. Bicycles. Airplanes. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

170 What are the important qualities of a good son or daughter? Have these qualities changed or remained the same over time in your culture? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

171 People work because they need money to live. What are some other reasons that people work? Discuss one or more of these reasons. Use specific examples and details to support your answer.

172 Some people believe that success in life comes from taking risks or chances. Others believe that success results from careful planning. In your opinion, what does success come from? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

173 Your city has decided to build a statue or monument to honor a famous person in your country. Who would you choose? Use reasons and specific examples to support your choice.

174 Describe a custom from your country that you would like people in other countries to adopt. Explain your choice using specific reasons and examples.

175 If you could ask a famous person one question, what would you ask? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

176 It is generally agreed that society benefits from the work of its members. Compare the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society. Which type of contribution do you think is more valued by your society? Give specific reasons to support your answer.

177 You need to travel from your home to a place 40 miles (64 kilometers) away. Compare the different kinds of transportation you could use. Tell which method of travel you would choose. Give specific reasons for your choice.

178 If you could invent something new, what product would you develop? Use specific details to explain why this invention is needed.

179 What do you consider to be the most important room in a house? Why is this room more important to you than any other room? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

180 You have the opportunity to visit a foreign country for two weeks. Which country would you like to visit? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

181 People remember special gifts or presents they have received. Why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

182 People do many different things to stay healthy. What do you do for good health? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

183 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

184 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. What is one thing you will do to improve your community? Why? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

185 Many students choose to attend schools or universities outside their home countries. Why do some students study abroad? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

186 People listen to music for different reasons and at different times. Why is music important to many people? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

187 Groups or organizations are an important part of some people’s lives. Why are groups or organizations important to people? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

188 When students move to a new school, they sometimes face problems. How can schools help these students with their problems? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

189 Every generation of people is different in important ways. How is your generation different from your parents’ generation? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

190 Holidays honor people or events. If you could create a new holiday, what person or event would it honor and how would you want people to celebrate it? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

191 The 21st Century has begun. What changes do you think this new century will bring? Use examples and details in your answers.

192 What are some of the qualities of a good parent? Use specific details and examples to explain your answer.

193 Movies are popular all over the world. Explain why movies are so popular. Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

194 Films can tell us a lot about the country where they were made. What have you learned about a country from watching its movies? Use specific examples and details to support your response.

195 If you could change one important thing about your country, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

196 What are some important qualities of a good school teacher? Use specific details and examples to explain why these qualities are important.

213 Which is the best way for students to make new friends: playing sports, traveling, or joining a volunteer group?

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