CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS HELP ON TOEFL

You may be contemplating, “Why is critical thinking important on TOEFL? How are critical thinking skills evaluated in the scores? When do I need to employ logic on the test?”

On test day, TOEFL engages your critical thinking ability in different sections. It’s crucial because the way you use logic to analyze and reason in an answer will affect your results.

How?

Writing Section: Independent Task

On the independent task of the writing section of the test, some questions require you to apply skills such as effective analyzing and reasoning. In those cases, you’ll need to think critically to develop your argument. For example, with the agree/disagree questions, your argument or opinion needs to try to persuade the audience you believe in something. To show you’ve thought through a critical response, simply express your opinion with clarity in response to the prompt.

Placement of Thesis

Where does your key argument statement need to be written? In the thesis statement. In the last sentence in your introductory paragraph, you’ll give your reasons to support your view(s.) As you continue writing the independent task essay, all your topic sentences, which start the body paragraphs are reason statements in support of your argument. The ability to create a strong argument with reasonable support leading to a conclusion shows the audience/evaluators whether or not you have skill to develop an essay.

Test Strategy: Careful Evaluation

A key strategy on other sections of the exam is to approach responses by evaluating the best answer. Why? TOEFL avoids answers that are definitely 100% (or contain words that are absolutes) as those don’t require much reasoning. TOEFL wants test-takers to consider questions carefully.

How?

 

Approach

A good approach is to avoid selecting absolute answers. For instance, a typical absolute answer would be a response that has an answer with adverbs like always and never, which are absolutes of 100% definity.

Another fast tactic is to search answers for modal verbs to avoid selecting absolute answers like must. It will increase the possibility of selecting the right answer. Examples of modals are these types of helper verbs: can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would. Modals have varying degrees of possibility to indicate how likely something is to happen. Modals go from one extreme to the other–with absolute requisites on one end like will, must, ought, should, shall and suggestions on the other end of the scale of likelihood with can, could, may, might, would. Avoid responses that include the absolute modal verb must. If you see responses with the strongly suggestive modal verbs should and ought, consider carefully if the issue in the question is of enough importance to select that answer. On the other hand, if you see answers with the modal verbs might and could, those are potentially better answer choices as those are not absolute 100%.

Zone in on Success

Now that you understand why critical thinking is essential on the exam and how it’s assessed in responses, use your critical thinking skills and these strategies accordingly on your next exam for a higher rate of success.

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.

New Vocabulary Raises TOEFL Success

 

Do you cringe when you encounter new vocabulary in English? Your feeling of dread can change to curiosity by simply following a structured approach when you come across any unknown word choice.

Although the TOEFL® iBT does not have a particular vocabulary section, many of the questions, answer choices, and passages contain difficult word choice. To improve your score substantially, you must increase your vocabulary. If you think studying vocabulary words is not exciting, get motivated to expand your range of words. Tell yourself it’s useful, not only on the test but also in academic life or career wise. Make learning new words fun or challenging so that you do not get bored with the process. What’s an advantage is the same words appear on the TOEFL one year after another. Get your hands on a list of frequent words on the TOEFL to get started. The more words that you recognize and understand the meaning of, the easier the test will be for you. Clearly, vocabulary is not something to avoid in your test prep time. Gear up for your success by creating a strategy how to tackle new vocabulary every day.

How to be organized about learning new vocabulary?

Get in the habit of looking up new words that you come across in reading passages or in listening to lectures. If you make a ritual of writing new word choice in a notebook specifically for that, you can use your notes to review sets of new words acquired so that you retain the information over the long run. If you see or hear a word that you don’t know, it’s probably a valuable word to jot down in your vocabulary journal.

In addition, keep a growing vocabulary list that you can refer to in your study sessions. To begin with, look the new word up online in an online dictionary or use a dictionary app and make a flashcard with the word on the front, the meaning on the back with synonyms and an example in context. Carry these index cards around in your pocket to study during breaks during the day. This is just a start, but rote memorization is not enough. As a language learner, you will benefit if you absorb the words in phrases and expand on them in exercises, so tools such as mnemonics may be useful as an aid. If you keep a routine of expanding your English vocabulary day to day, it will be a valuable asset for communication in your career and beyond.

Of course, flashcards are tools to learn new words, but they are not enough just by themselves so use a valuable smartphone app such as the fun and memory-efficient app Study Blue, which makes remembering your new words much easier.

You must apply those new words in context. Otherwise, you may not recall the new words. So, when you memorize any new words, consider how that word choice typically appears in a phrase or sentence.

  • Is the context more often written or spoken?
  • Is the word choice used in only one way?
  • Is the context where the word is used formal or casual?

The next step is trying to use your new word(s) in a few typical phrases or sentences in context. For fluency, using your word in context has to come naturally, so by practicing how to put the new words in context, it will become second nature.

If you learned something new from this post, check out Accurate Content on the Integrated TOEFL Writing for how to target your writing content.

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.

Don’t Worry, It’s Easy to Write Concise Sentences

9.21“Less is more” in writing English. When you construct sentences to create a paragraph, each sentence should be trimmed down to only what is necessary to clearly communicate your point.

Do you find yourself struggling to create a simple, clear way of writing your ideas in English? On the TOEFL exam writing section, especially on the independent task, eliminating wordiness can raise your score.

Here are four efficient tips to make your sentences concise.

  1. Do not repeat the same idea twice.
  • Many uneducated adults who never went to primary school vote for improving the school system.

Examples of wordy phrases and how to trim them down.

REDUNDANT CONCISE
A lot of many
In recent times now
There is no doubt that No doubt
Personally, I think I think
Each and every each
A total of 10 pets 10 pets
In a period of five days Five days
One and the same The same
Of particular interest Interest
In the event that If
At 12 noon At noon
A person who is smart A smart person
At 1AM in the morning At 1AM
New innovations innovations
In the field of business In business
He is a person who… He
In spite of the fact that… Even though
In the event that… if

 

  1. Delete phrases that do not add value to your writing
Delete unnecessary phrases
In other words,
Type of
Kind of
In the case of
By means of
In the event that
Have a tendency to
For the most part
As far as I’m concerned,
By virtue of the fact that
It seems that
Due to the fact that
For all intents and purposes
At the present time,
All things considered,
In light of the fact that
As a matter of fact,
…because of the fact that…
Which exists
For the purpose of
In a manner of speaking

 

  1. Avoid weak adverbs, choosing instead strong active verbs. The best effect is to use adverbs sparingly or only when necessary.
  • Really, very, mostly, severely

 

  1. Avoid there is/are or it is
  • There are 25 colleagues in the office. à 25 colleagues are in the office.
  • There is a mess. à A mess exists.

In short, concise writing does not equal short sentences. You can still go into detail in body paragraph development. Aim for clear ideas by deleting unneeded words and phrases.

If you enjoyed this blog, you’ll like Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay.

 

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?

If you like this blog, you will enjoy TOEFL Writing Independent Task: Preference Essay.