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.

 

Secret Tips to Developing TOEFL Writing Skills

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Of course, if you still have not yet mastered fluency in written English, writing a quality essay may still be a challenge. You are probably thinking more than you need to. How can you make each essay a little better? Be careful not to repeat the same format again and again in order to move to the next level. Here are a few useful tips. You can use these techniques to constantly write excellent essays.

 

  1. Read others’ essays

To develop your own writing style, read essays written by others. 1. Read essays of other students or academic essays. In fact, if you read a wide variety of essays on diverse subjects, you can get insight into different types of argumentative styles. Clearly, the more you read and become familiar with alternate styles that exist, the more techniques you will have in your pocket to use in your own essays.

 

As you familiarize yourself with others’ essays, critically analyze what you like and what you do not like. Consider whether or not the writer is persuading you well. If so, how? Ask yourself, is the writer’s argument one-sided or does the writer support the argument with evidence such as reasons and examples? Contemplate if the writer is using an effective technique which you have not seen before so that you could incorporate a similar technique in your writing style.

A. Read online newspapers, particularly opinion pages to see viewpoints

B. Online magazines

C. Online journals

 

2. Use a dictionary and thesaurus to build your vocabulary

An extensive word choice permits you to express what you want in clear, concise terms. “Less is more.” Using essential, precise words is much more effective than being wordy with unnecessarily longer sentences.

 

Write to the point with clear, accurate vocabulary. In English, there are constantly new advanced words to learn. These words can assist you in communicated your point much more efficiently. When you are able to employ strong vocabulary, it manifests your higher level of English, and your written argument may come across as more convincing in your essay. The more widely you read, write down new vocabulary you see and label them in categories according to topic. Review them in each study session. Try to use the new vocabulary in the correct context in your speaking and writing. Here are two links below which both have dictionaries and thesauruses.

  1. Avoid using the same words over and over again by substituting synonyms and/or new phrases
  2. Sign up for “word of the day” on a site
  3. Become familiar with synonyms and antonyms of your new vocabulary word
  4. Study lists of prefixes, suffixes, and roots of words to help you expand your word choice based on these meanings.
  5. Create a vocabulary journal where you write vocabulary from your reading. Divide it into sections so that all the words are categorized such as science, business, art, history, and then you can review them easily. Write synonyms, antonyms, and an example in context.
  6. Use these new words when applicable in your written practice. Push yourself to use at least two new vocabulary words in each practice essay you write before the exam day. Not only will you become more comfortable using the new words, you will be able to try other whether or not the words are used correctly in your writing.
  7. Avoid using advanced words that look fancy if you are not clear of the meaning. Using a long or quite advanced word choice, you can run the risk of mistaking the meaning. Only focus on using clear words that you can employ with no doubts of the audience understanding them, so that your vocabulary is comprehensive and easily understandable.

http://dictionary.reference.com/

http://www.thesaurus.com/

 

If you like this blog, then check out this article: Why Am I Not Improving English?

 

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.

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?

Use Technology for Proficiency in English

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Have you ever found yourself wanting to use technology to study English, but you do not know how to search for the proper sites to advance your language learning skills?

Let’s look at a list of convenient ways to take advantage of technology to quickly gain English proficiency.

  • Download podcasts, lectures or songs on iTunes or listen to mp3 English songs. Listen to the language while driving a car, walking the streets, or commuting by bus or train.
  • Download iPhone or Android apps for free English, study skills, exams, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, reading, listening, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, mind mapping, note taking and writing skills.
  • Search for websites to review English grammar such as the Owl at Purdue: the Online Writing Lab, play learning games, or do research in English for any other subjects you are studying.
  • For listening, watch movies or listen to popular English songs. You could even sing to the words or learn the lyrics.
  • Get an online native coach of the language for speaking, listening, and writing.
  • Enroll in an online course to improve your academic skills.
  • Take a course of your academic interest on Coursera or edX
  • Speak to online partners to increase your practice in English.
  • Register for an English webinar in the area of your interest.
  • Study your hobby online in English.

 

Immerse yourself online in the language because gaining proficiency English is not only fun and interesting but also useful for boosting a career.

 

 

How to Learn English Effectively

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So, you need to acquire proficient English Level 7 and become more fluent to attend a university program in the United States or Europe. You’ve been studying intensively for a year or two, but you do not seem to improve in great strides. How do you get from your present English level to the level where you need to be to excel in all academic skills? Your desire is to make leaps and bounds in the language more quickly, so you can reach your next goals. What are you doing that is not as effective as it could be in your study?

Language Learning Strategy

  • Yes, practice does make perfect, but having patience is also useful in learning English or any language.
  • If you wish to learn and recall better, you need to set and outline the challenges and strengths that match where you are at, highlight the level of where you want to get to, and adjust the way you are learning and acquiring language through your approach to tasks to meet your goal.

Consider creating your own language learning strategies in order to target which technique will help you develop each academic task (a task-based strategy) you need to improve on. After you have a strategy set for each skill, then you need a way to practice those strategies in every day practice. Once you implement the daily pattern of practicing English with your set techniques, you will take note of efficient improvement. Then, use internet technology, create a proper study environment (such as an ideal location, atmosphere, group versus individual study, and minimal distractions,) and make your study tasks interesting so that you will remember most of what you acquire in your sessions. If, on the other hand, you study each day doing some exercises, but you do not have a set technique to approach each academic skill, your study of the language will be a mess, and it is likely that you will remain at the same level without increasing your advancement at the speed you would like. Studying daily with strategies in mind will develop your skills in English because the repetitive habit will become faster and shape the manner in which you learn.

To specifically prepare for skills which are tested on standardized tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, GMAT, and GRE to target your abilities to improve test-taking, reading, listening, speaking, writing, note taking, analyzing, critical thinking, integrating, synthesizing, grammar, and vocabulary.

When you make the web your classroom, you have a broad base to develop your own unique approach which you are comfortable with to learn English successfully.