24 IDIOMS FOR HIGH TOEFL RESULTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Idioms to Focus on

Are you at your wits’ end feeling desperate over which idioms to study for TOEFL?

Learning specific idioms with “take” improves performance on TOEFL and IELTS since these standardized tests are formatted with certain common English expressions.

The challenge for the test-taker comes in understanding the meaning of an idiom in the context of a passage or lecture. Some expressions seem to mean something different than what you might think.

Beat the Test

Improve your skill set of common take idioms. Knowing these expressions helps you understand TOEFL written passages and audio clips where your comprehension skills are tested. You’ll raise your competency by comprehending more details, which in turn, sets you up as a better test performer.

Examples in Context

Get to know these “take” idioms by familiarizing yourself with the examples in context. Dedicate study time to practicing them since they appear on TOEFL again and again. You’ll be at an advantage to get higher scores.

Take on I’ll take it on if no one else can complete the task.
Take notice The boss began to take notice of the worker’s productivity.
Take great pains to do something The parents went through great pains to ensure their daughter had enough money for university.
Take one at one’s word The cashier took the customer at his word when he described why he returned the product.
Take one by surprise The rebels took the army by surprise.
Take one’s time Let’s take our time to get the project done right.
Take one’s turn Wait until everyone has taken their turn.
Take someone at one’s word She invited me to come stay at her place in Rome, so I took her at her word.
Take one’s word for it I took his word for it when he said he had had an accident.
Take someone or something for granted It’s easy to take parents for granted until they’re gone. / I took my health for granted until the day I got sick.
Take someone or something at face value I take everything she says at face value. / The committee took the report at face value and approved the changes.
Take someone or something into account They’ll take his years of service into account when he’s evaluated for a raise. / She’ll try to take into account all the important things.
Take someone or something seriously If you don’t take the work seriously, you’ll be fired.
Take something into consideration They will take your experience into consideration when they decide who gets the job.
Take something lightly I’ve learned to take my work lightly as there are more important things to worry about.
Take something with a grain of salt His advice should be taken with a grain of salt since he doesn’t have much experience in the matter.
Take a beating In 2008, the stock market took a beating.
Take a dive The market took a dive after England’s exit from the EU.
Take it easy Take it easy after a long day of work.
Take it easy on Take it easy on him for missing work as his mother just died.
Take one’s chances Take your chances on oil and gold in the market.
Take the floor He took the floor speaking about pollution.
Take the helm She took the helm as CEO of the company.
Take the initiative The broker took the initiative to buy the stocks early when the market opened.

Step Up Fluency

You can even get practice using these expressions in business communication.

Now that you’ve got 24 new idioms under your belt, you’re a step ahead in fluency. Be confident on your next TOEFL that you’ll understand idiomatic meanings in context when these idioms surface on the exam.

If you were able to use these take idioms in context, feel free to Like this post.

18 Idioms for TOEFL and Better Communication

If you’ve been in a vicious cycle taking TOEFL again and again with minimal change in scores, how do you dig yourself out of this–how will you get out of a rut?

  1. Believe. According to Gandhi, “Man becomes what he believes himself to be. If you believe you can do it, you shall acquire the capacity to do it.”
  2. Change the routine. If you have the habit of studying idiomatic expressions once a week, change the habit and study twice weekly to have a better effect.
  3. Alter the approach. If your approach is the process of studying idioms written on index cards, adjust your study tactics from a different angle, for instance, try creating digital flashcards online for new words to have more impact. With a different learning strategy for foreign language acquisition, you’ll tackle new idioms in no time and expand your knowledge of everyday phrases. So, getting to know idioms is one way to advance your language skills.

Here are 18 idiomatic expressions to raise your level on TOEFL, in business communication, and in campus interactions.

Why are idioms important?

Idioms are an important aspect of informal written and spoken English. Using expressions correctly eases effective verbal communication, improving your soft skill. And, as you communicate better with idiomatic language, you show leadership at school, at work, and in business.

With expressions at your fingertips, you’ll draw on accessible phrases to convey points concisely. You’ll also seem savvier to come across like a native. Once you feel comfortable practicing expressions, try using idiomatic phrases to illustrate key points in team meetings, seminar presentations, or group discussions. Furthermore, in test preparation if you are preparing for TOEFL, IELTS or GMAT, broadening your grasp of idioms will be a stepping stone to up your game to the next level. Whether your benchmark is to improve soft skills in business communication or to succeed using the correct expressions on tests, your “idiom database” is an invaluable tool in the process.

How important are idioms on the test?

If you come across an expression you’re not familiar with on the test, it will be hard to understand the sentence or paragraph it’s in. As a result, if you can’t figure out what’s being discussed, it may cause you to lose points. So, yes, idioms are important on the exam.

How are idioms tested on each section of the TOEFL?

Reading & Listening

Idioms will be in the readings (but not a key part) or listening. In passages, for instance, understanding an idiom may help you get the whole meaning context of a college-level text. In a reading, an idiom will be part of a quote or opinion. As such, idioms would be in quotations to show a phrase is different than the typical meaning.

Let’s analyze one test case:

“When truck production began to soar, quality went up and factories reported they had produced less “lemons” than before.”

Here, the expression “lemons” is in quotations, and it means something defective.

Though the TOEFL question will not ask what a “lemon” is, it’s useful to know the expression’s meaning to find the right answer faster.

The next section, the listening section, has the most idioms of all the sections since you’ll listen to campus dialogues of how people speak every day. To improve, focus on becoming familiar with the idioms that have surfaced on past exams.

Speaking & Writing

On the other hand, in the speaking and writing sections, the least number of idioms are found—only in the integrated tasks (speaking questions 3-6 and writing integrated task.) Avoid using an idiom in speaking or writing, only if you have a good knowledge of the idiom. In that case, you might include just one idiom in a speaking response and one in the integrated writing response. No need to use more than one on either of these two sections’ integrated tasks.

Here are six idioms from past TOEFL tests to get to know

  1. Cost an arm and a leg
  2. Butterflies in your stomach
  3. Be on your toes
  4. Time flies
  5. Breeze through something
  6. Get some shut eye

Analyze the meanings of the six idioms in the paragraph below

Taking the TOEFL test every month costs an arm and a leg. When you arrive to take your test, you’ll have butterflies in your stomach. When the test starts, be on your toes. After four hours, time flies, and you feel like you breezed through. It was a long day, and after the test, you go home to get some shut eye.

  1. Is expensive
  2. Feel nervous
  3. Be ready/be prepared
  4. Time goes by quickly
  5. Do something quickly
  6. Sleep

Achieve a better score on the TOEFL in order to get into your dream college. Well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Yes, it may be a challenging task or a difficult road ahead.

Recall that mastering idioms is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s only a small part of the issue.

Keep plugging ahead to applications.

 

 

 

 

Be happy knowing you’re as wise as an owl and familiar with a set of valuable idioms to effectively communicate and advance your soft skills.

So, what are you waiting for? Go practice using them. Time’s a ticking, hurry up!

Now that you’ve gained self-assurance to use some of these new idioms in your speaking, writing, or business communication practice, keep your eyes peeled watching for more useful idioms coming in an upcoming blog post.

5 Steps to Learn Vocabulary

As you wade through your groups of lengthy vocabulary lists, do you feel overwhelmed, as if you forget your new words from your vocabulary list? Are there times when you are frustrated from seeing a word you know you have seen before, but you cannot for the life of you remember what the meaning is? Of course, you realize you have to learn select new vocabulary in English to expand your word base before you take the TOEFL iBT, but are you approaching the process so that you have a distinct advantage?

Perhaps you are now scratching your head and asking yourself what strategies are more useful to quickly acquire a more extensive language base so that you can use that vocabulary efficiently on the TOEFL exam. Or, maybe you know how to encounter new English words in your study sessions, and you have been made aware of those vocabulary by writing them in a journal list to refer to, but your memory fails to recall them when you are reviewing since you have not yet implemented a set strategy of how to recall them over time. Of course, certain ways of remembering work better than simply memorizing a word. Let’s examine five.

  1. Study your new word in context by learning in chunks. Don’t just study one new word alone.

If you write down a word by itself, you will not have the context of where the word may arise in the future, so it will be easily forgotten. In English, we never communicate using only one word. English is commonly communicated in phrases, groups of words or chunks. For instance, instead of memorizing the word “bail” on its own, write down and practice reviewing these phrases “bail her out of jail,” “bail my friend out of trouble,” “bail a company out of its problems” or “bail out a company from debt.” Instead of remembering the single verb “constrained,” recall the phrases “she constrained herself from talking much,” “the ropes constrained the goat” or “he felt constrained by rules.” Each word normally is in a common phrase, so when you remember the group of words that go with the new vocabulary you are trying to recall, you will ensure you will know how to use it accurately in context.

 

  1. Don’t just write them in a vocabulary notebook. Make those words more visible everywhere around you to interact with them.

Put the new words somewhere written down where you will see them as much as possible. For example, put them on poster paper a wall (in front of your desk,) write them in a notebook that you carry with you all the time, place them on your computer desktop screen (to see them repeatedly at a glance on the computer,) have them on your smartphone in a note-taking app to refer to them throughout the day during your downtime. In that way, you can review your new words much more often and recall them more easily than simply sitting down to memorize or review them at a study session.

     3. Don’t overlook using new words daily.

Make an organized effort to use some of the new words in context every day, either in writing or speaking. If you have a short term goal of learning X amount of new words per week, be sure to have another goal of reviewing your words consistently. Take time to attack words on your vocabulary list by selecting a group of ones to use in context daily. The more you attempt to use the new words, the more you have the possibility to retain the meaning of how to use those in the future.

     4. Don’t just focus on similar words, but examine opposites too.

When you encounter a new word choice, not only take down a synonym, but make sure you look up the opposite meaning as well and take note. If you have the synonym and antonym of the new word, it will build your contextual learning base. Your brain will enact a reference point of both extremes, so you can remember more quickly.

      5. Keep “like” words grouped together.

The brain makes connections with “like” ideas, so when you come across a new word and know the meaning is similar to another word, group those words together in your word list so that you can expand your memory of those synonyms.

 

If you enjoyed sharing this advice, read Effective Note-taking for TOEFL Success to score higher test results.

 

 

Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay

note pen

One of the essential keys to a well-written essay is integrating transitions into your essay, whether that be the integrated task or the independent task on the writing section of the TOEFL exam. Transitions and transitional phrases are words or groups of words that connect ideas between or within sentences. When you write a paragraph, you should present ideas that flow; consequently, connector words or phrases are useful to make the paragraph cohesive. By inserting smooth connections, ideas can relate more logically so that no gaps exist. If you are able to connect your thoughts in a manner which leads the reader through your essay, you will effectively paint a clearer argument. For this reason, though you may already have presented a strong argument and supporting details, your opinion, reasons, examples and support need to also connect with transitions in order to make your persuasion seem stronger to any reader. Proper selection of transitions makes your written passage much more enticing to read

Moreover, you will need to decide which transition word or phrase to use in a particular spot in your writing. So, examine your essay overall. Look at the organization. When you give ideas that build on one another in the same way, use ‘like meaning’ transitions. If you have presented ideas which are opposing, then you would insert transitional phrases that are contrasting meaning. Sequential words also help to delineate the organization of time in paragraphs and keep sentences in clear order.

Sample transitions

SEQUENTIAL WORDS–First, at first, initially, first of all, in the first place, second, secondly, in addition, as well, next, later, after that, now, recently, at the same time,

EXAMPLE WORDS: for instance, for example, to illustrate, to exemplify, to demonstrate, to show,

EMPHASIS WORDS–in particular, specifically, even, especially, in fact, no doubt, doubtless

LIKE WORDS–similarly, like, as, likewise, in the same way, in addition, plus

CONTRAST WORDS—but, yet, however, nevertheless, yet, still, on the other hand, despite, although, though, even though, while, whereas

CONCLUSION WORDS–In conclusion, in summary, lastly, consequently, finally, hence, therefore, thus

Sentences example without a transition and with transitions

  • I built a house. It was one story. [no transition]
  • For instance, I built a house; initially, it was one story. [two transitions for smooth flowing logic]

Not only are transitions vital to your writing on the TOEFL, but also a solid structure makes your essay more convincing to the reader. The structure of an essay commences with an introduction, an initial paragraph which starts off with catching the attention of the reader with a lead-on on the topic. For instance, you begin with a general statement or question on the topic to entice a reader. The introduction moves from general to more specific: at the end of the introductory paragraph, in the last sentence, you state your thesis statement. A thesis is the main idea of your essay. Whatever main purpose you have (your argument,) you would mention that viewpoint to control the thesis and add your reasons why.

To follow the introduction, you would have a body of a few paragraphs which explain the support of your reasons why. In this way, your reasons each have concrete examples and details, which become more and more detailed to make a convincing argument. Each body paragraph follows a similar structure. You begin with a transition to refer back to the previous paragraph or move forward to a new idea. Thus, your writing will not jump from one idea to the next without logical reasoning. The first topic sentence of each body paragraph contains a controlling idea and one reason, which refers back to one reason stated in the thesis in the introduction. After proposing your reason, you give an example or evidence to support the topic. Following an example, you can include numerous details, which become more concrete as you move through the body paragraph. Those ideas support the argument, reason and example. If you wish to conclude the body paragraph, you may want to rephrase the topic sentence in other words to emphasize the point you are making.

The final part of the structure of an essay is to restate your thesis and express why that is important. In that concluding paragraph, you would start with an ending transition such as “In conclusion,” or “In summary,” or “To sum up.” One of those transitions smooths your writing so that moving from the body to the conclusion is not jumpy. To follow would be a short summary of your opinion and the reasons paraphrased with new word choice. Your concluding line should end strong. It would be a recommendation or suggestion on topic or a universal call to action. Be sure not to introduce new ideas in the conclusion or that would weaken the ending.

Of course, by using both the proper transitions in the correct location within your writing and by organizing your essay structure according to the standard set above, you can impact the reader positively. He/she will be able to readily comprehend your argumentative viewpoint and capture supporting points clearly to give you a better TOEFL writing score.

If you liked this post, try reading the article Writing a TOEFL Independent Essay with a Story as an Example.

 

The TOEFL Independent Task Five-Paragraph Essay Structure

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Structure:

The typical structure for essays is the five-paragraph organization. The model is useful in the independent writing task since you have a limited time; you will have an advantage to know your structure in advance within a 30-minute time frame. Of course, it’s only one format, so you can optionally write a four-paragraph structural model instead. In either case, you would be organizing with an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs (2-3,) and a conclusion.

Introduction:

Start by getting the reader involved in your essay. You can write a general sentence about the question, but be sure to catch the reader’s attention by stating the topic. Since the introductory paragraph tells the reader what the essay is about, you can present your main points. For instance, you will need to answer the question and include a thesis statement (your main argument) with reasons. The last sentence of the first paragraph will have a related key word to lead into the first body paragraph so the connection is smooth.

Body:

The first body paragraph often has the strongest argument. Consequently, you should be sure to use the most significant reason to support the argument, the best example or illustration. The first sentence has a transition/reverse hook, which links back to the last sentence of the introduction.

  • In the first topic sentence, state the argument and first reason, which was in the thesis in the introduction.
  • Then, develop the reason with a supporting example and details which become more and more specific.
  • The last sentence can be either a concluding idea to restate the topic or a transition to lead into the second body paragraph.

Body:

The second body paragraph usually presents the second strongest point. So, use the next most convincing reason and direct example with underlying details in support. Again, the first topic sentence of this paragraph has a transitional hook such as a paraphrase of the previous reason relating back to the last paragraph (or the last sentence of the previous body paragraph.)

  • To start, write the topic reason (related to the introductory thesis,) followed by a clear example with supporting details.
  • To conclude, the final sentence can wrap up the paragraph by reiterating the topic reason in other words or lead into the next paragraph.

Body:

The third body paragraph will contain the weakest reasoning point, simplest example, and a follow up of that illustration with specific details. The beginning sentence will give a connecting transition or a clear link to the previous paragraph.

  • The first sentence will be the topic (related to the thesis in the introduction) with the least important reason, your weakest example to support that reason, and concrete details.
  • Finally, the last sentence should signal the reader that this is the concluding point in the essay.

Conclusion:

For the concluding paragraph, allude to the introduction by paraphrasing the thesis (echoing the idea but not copying the exact original words,) synthesize the three reasons from the body, and offer a universal call to action such as a recommendation or a suggestion of consequence for the reader or a provocative question on the topic.

When you present an orderly structure, the end result is a well-organized essay with ideas that flow coherently, leading to a higher score.

Improve English to Score High on TOEFL

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Have you picked your brains about how to rapidly advance your language progress to improve your TOEFL score?  Here are a few techniques to help get you achieve your objectives.

First, stay mentally motivated. You need to put in the time to study to improve. You can give yourself constant encouragement by dwelling on all of the reasons that you want to attain your target score. If you make a list of those reasons, you can post them on the wall near your study desk so you can look at them daily to keep you focused on your goal. Having your reasons posted nearby will help you not procrastinate. Whenever you feel like you want to put off studying, look up at your list with your goals, and that reminder will help you stay on task. If you are able to study consistently without being distracted, you have a higher chance of keeping your motivation level high. Only you can drive yourself to the next level of commitment. Your list serves as a daily reminder.

Second, make time to study. You need to schedule enough time to practice each section and review your errors so that you can improve from your mistakes. Though you may have a balancing act of student, work, or family life to juggle, keep concentrating on your priorities of getting to your highest score. You need to arrange time and dedicate extra energy outside of your normal life activities to study test preparation so that your English will advance step by step. It is not only important to study new materials, but also to brush up on what you learned a few days previously, so that you can easily retain the information to use later on.

Third, think about learning positively. Do you have a good spot to study? Wherever you plan on having your study sessions, make sure that area is conducive to staying focused. Eliminate distractions. If you have a positive learning environment with a clean desk area, you will feel less stressed to get down to study. Sitting yourself in a quiet, clean space will help give you a positive mindset. In your study space, plan your time to accomplish certain activities. For instance, study for 25-30 minutes and then take a break for two minutes standing up and moving around to move your energy. You must not study more than one hour sitting at one time because the brain performs better when it has a little rest. If you are planning to sit down and study for three hours, a positive approach would not be to study straight through, but to take 3-5 short breaks within the overall time. Statistically, the research has proven that the brain focuses better in this way. You will be able to retain more information, and it will bring you more success in the long run.

Next, avoid anxiety and stress. If you tend to worry about negative thought patterns such as, “It’s difficult; I can’t do it.” Eliminate those ideas from your mind. Don’t be frustrated. Try to be patient and focus on your goals. Talk to yourself with positive words like, “I am learning more every day. I retain all the information that I study. I am good at English. I can achieve my goal with my daily studies.” If you are able to avoid stressing yourself out, you will be able to block out the negativities. Positive reactions to taking a test will result in calmness on the day of the test. You will have a mental advantage on the exam. When you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to just take a break. Get enough rest, and don’t forget to have fun. Keep yourself positive and the stress will melt away.

Lastly, find a balance in your life. Work-study balance is vital to keeping your brain calm so it functions well on the test day. You will be able to achieve success if you schedule in time to do fun things with friends and family. It’s not just about studying. To get your goal, you need to have a solid balance of academics and normal life so that the brain is stronger. Take time to eat well, exercise daily, and reflect on all the positive improvements you have made and all the skills you have advanced on.

What to Do on TOEFL Test Day

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

  1. Be sure you are well-rested and have gotten at least a good night’s sleep before your test. That means that you should have slept between 6-8 hours the night before. If you have slept well, you are much more likely to recall what you have studied and highly likely to perform better and get a high score than if you don’t sleep much at all.
  2. Stay in a positive mindset to remain calm. If you feel relaxed, you will be able to focus successfully on each question and in each section. If you feel anxiety, take a slow breath and inhale deeply. Simply put any worried thoughts out of your mind to stay in a “mentally successful zone.”
  3. When it is possible, try to position your seat in the exam room at the front since you probably will be less-distracted by others around. In that spot, you will also hear the recording better for the listening parts.
  4. Before jumping in, be sure you understand the directions, and if you need to, ask the examiner whatever you are not sure about.
  5. Prior to starting, know how you will manage your time adequately and make a decision about how long to spend on every question. Time management is one of the keys to finishing well.
  6. Read every question carefully. The most common error is for students to read quickly, so read the directions and understand what you will need to do. Often because they do not read carefully enough, this hampers the process.
  7. Answer carefully, and if there is any time at the end of the exam, you can read through your responses. Statistics show that your first answer is often the correct one, so remember to only change an answer if you actually see an error.
  8. First, be sure and answer the easy questions initially since it will boost your confidence and certainly save you time later in the game.
  9. Avoid losing time on any challenging questions that you are unable to answer. Furthermore, if you are unable to respond to a question, go to the next question and come back to the one you missed later on if time is available. If you waste much time on one question, you might lose your confidence.