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.

 

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.

If you like this blog, you’ll enjoy Secret Tips to Developing TOEFL Writing Skills.

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

book

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?

 

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

tech

 

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.

 

 

Advance English Vocabulary with Flashcard Technology Tools

IS_FlashcardSets

Have you ever thought you are not making progress learning new vocabulary words in English? If you are frustrated not advancing to new levels, you can use technology tools to assist you in learning the language.

You will need more advanced vocabulary to achieve English fluency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking and to perform well on exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, and GRE. So, why not take advantage of any number of online technology tools to practice vocabulary that can assist you in progressing at a faster rate?

 

  • Make digital flashcards

 

In the past, flashcards may have been thought of as a boring way to study English words, but that is no longer the case. New online technology tools creating fun flashcards with games will make learning English vocabulary interesting and effective because it optimizes your ability to retain knowledge.

  1. Recall the knowledge by engaging “active memory”; when you look at the front side of a flashcard and flip it over, it creates a strong connection in your brain, enhancing the chance of you remembering the word choice.
  2. Looking at the second side of the flashcard helps to advance your memory because you use your self-reflective abilities in learning the language, and investigations show that applying meta cognition builds knowledge into your memories.
  3. As you repeat flashcards in study session practice, you will boost your confidence in your ability to recall the new words. Research has shown reviewing words is an optimal way to improve your memory performance.

Creating flashcards using online website tools is a useful way to maximize your vocabulary advancement in proficient English. Since you review the cards repeatedly, the word choice becomes ingrained in your brain. With the cards, you will recall the new terms. Here are some websites with tools to create flashcards for university students:

  1. QuizMeOnline offers online flashcards and social networking for students
  2. StudyStack offers free online English language flashcards with the fun of games
  3. StudyBlue is a free study app for smartphones that allows you to study with partners online
  4. Quizlet allows you to practice cards, spell, test, play games
  5. Examtime has free 3D flashcards, study plans, and other online tools like mind mapping and notes
  6. Flashcard Machine a service that offers making study flashcards for free to share with study partners

You will find any of these online tools helpful to improving your study progress mastering English vocabulary.