Category TOEFL

Description for TOEFL

General Information

  • It is made up of Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections.
  • It will take you about four hours in total from start to finish.
  • For the Speaking section, you speak into a microphone and your responses are digitally recorded and sent to the ETS Online Scoring Network.
  • For the Writing section, you will type your responses, which are sent to the ETS Online Scoring Network.
  • Human raters, trained and certified by ETS, rate the Speaking and Writing responses.
  • The test is not is not computer adaptive.
  • You can take notes throughout the whole test.

Grammar

  • There is no stand-alone Grammar section.
  • Grammar is tested wholly within the four skill areas.
  • In comparison to previous versions of the TOEFL, the addition of a speaking section and expansion of the writing section requires students to communicate in original English.
  • New integrated-skills questions test ability to learn, to integrate information across multiple tests.
  • They are more difficult and more reflective of actual academic English.

Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing

  • The Reading section consists of about 3–5 passages (About 700 words each), with 12–14 questions each section.
  • There are about fifty questions in the whole section, and it will take you about 60-100 minutes to complete.
  • The Listening section consists of 4–6 lectures with about 6 questions per lecture, as well as 2–3 conversations with 5 questions per conversation.
  • The Speaking section sees you doing two independent tasks and four integrated tasks, two of which are reading/listening/speaking while the other two are just listening/speaking.
  • The Writing section requires you to do one integrated writing task and one independent writing task.

Scoring

  • TOEFL iBT provides five scores: four sections scores for Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking and a total score.
  • Each section is on a 0-30 scale.
  • The total score is the sum of the four section scores.
  • The range of total scores could be anywhere from 0-120.
  • It is valid for two years.
  • You may take the TOEFL iBT test only once in any seven-day period, even if you took the test and canceled your scores.
  • The normal fee to take the TOEFL test is US$110. However, it varies based on country.
  • To register for your test, please visit www.ets.org/toefl.

Posted on October 28, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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If in-person or online TOEFL tutoring through Manhattan Review is not a possibility for you, study guides for this exam are critical.  Many students often are confused as to what medium to pursue in regards to a TOEFL study guide: textbook, audio CDs, Internet practice program or computer-based practice tests and quizzes.

It’s highly recommended that you get some practice with this exam on a computer, since most of you will be taking the iBt version, which is solely computer-based.  After all, reading an academic article on a monitor is a very different experience from reading on regular paper.  Often times, it’s easier to get lost in our reading when we read on the computer, in addition we tend to slower.  Even if you are just reading encyclopedia articles online, it will be useful practice for you in the long run.

In regards to TOEFL study books, here are some options for you with comprehensive breakdowns to help you find your way in the bookstore!


Manhattan Review’s Integrated Study Guide: Turbocharge Your TOEFL

By Joern Meissner & Tracy C. Yun

This study book, published through Manhattan Review, not only breaks down TOEFL question types and the test itself, but also focuses on common American idioms, useful vocabulary, grammar review, accent reduction, in addition to special sections on the use of articles and prepositions.


Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test

By Deborah Phillips

This book is a unique two-for-one deal, as the 2nd edition (preferred) comes with a CD-Rom, so you are able to get your practice both on the page and on the screen.  This book is broken down in our test sections (reading, listening, speaking & writing), first with a broad overview with general suggestions, and then complete breakdowns and subsequent exercises with skills.  Also included are two complete, full-length TOEFL tests, in addition to three appendixes: Cohesion, Sentence Structure and Error Correction.  In the very back of the book, in addition to a very clear answer key, is a final section about diagnosis, assessment, and scoring.  Please note, the audio CD for this textbook is sold separately, so keep that in mind when purchasing this book.


Delta’s Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test: Six Practice Tests for the iBt

By Nancy Gallagher

While this is a practice test-only book, Delta publishes some great material about the TOEFL that is used all over the world.  In particular, many students claim the Delta TOEFL exercises are somewhat harder than the actual TOEFL exam, so in many ways it sets the bar high prior to test day.  (Please note, Delta publishes an “Advanced Skills” book, as well, for advanced students.)  CDs for the listening, speaking and writing sections must be purchased separately, but are well worth it, as the lectures make great additions to your mp3 or i-pods to buff up your listening skills.

What’s the ultimate advice when it comes to practicing for the TOEFL at home?  Practicing every day is certainly important, but keep in mind that you don’t want to burn yourself out.  Students can sometimes grow overwhelmed very quickly with the academic listening and reading material this tests contains, so too much of this work all at once can have an adverse affect.  Also, focus on a skill-by-skill basis, devoting so many hours a day to reading, writing, speaking or listening.  (However, feel free to add some variety by warming up your study session with independent speaking questions or outlining independent essays.)

Posted on October 25, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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While the speaking section appears to cause a lot of worry in many students looking to take the TOEFL, it’s best understood when able to tackle the section on a question-by-question basis.  This article is going to explore TOEFL Speaking Question #5.  Here’s what we know about this question:

  • it involves a conversation between a male and female
  • it does not have a reading component
  • you have 20 seconds to prepare; 60 seconds to respond
  • your opinion is required at the end of the response

Here are some tips to help you get the high score of a 4 on Question #5, in particular.

Tip 1: Note-taking.  Divide your page in two sections: MALE and FEMALE. In one column, write down whatever you are able to in regards to what the male speaker is saying. In the second column; write whatever you are able to that the female speaker is saying.  This way, by dividing the speaker’s contributions you are clear what each is saying and are able to connect the thoughts right in front of you during the speaking section.  Also, keep in mind you must take notes in the order the information is presented to you – disorganized notes can and will create chaos on the TOEFL!

Tip 2:  Question #5 is an integrated speaking task; however, unlike Question #3 & #4, there is no 45-second reading passage that appears before the conversation.  This means you do not need to acknowledge the reading in any sense because there isn’t any information to incorporate!  (This is a good thing – trust me.)

Tip 3:  Your preparation time is 20 seconds and your speaking time is 60 seconds.  You are given 10 seconds less to prepare than on Question #3 & #4 because of the absence of a reading component, so you will need to prepare a bit faster than the previous two questions.  During this 20-second preparation time, you should organize your notes in the manner you plan on presenting them.  Sometimes numbering notes in the order you intend on delivering them is useful for students, while others prefer to spend time scanning over all the information as it’s written.

Tip 4:  The opinion portion of Question #5 often throws students off, as they assume all giving of opinions is over after Question #1 & #2, the independent prompts.  Most of the time, the opinion part of Question #5 will read: What do you think the male (or female) student should do, and why?  This will involve you choosing an option offered in the conversation from one student to the other and stating your reasoning for choosing that option.

An example of a high-scoring response to Question #5 reads, as follows:

“The conversation is in regards to the changing of the library hours at a university campus.  The female student is distressed about the change in library hours because she often likes to study at night.  She goes on to say some days during the week, the only time she actually has to go to the library is late due to her part-time job.  The male student offers several suggestions to her in regards to her problem.  He recommends she speak with the library staff about the reasoning behind the change in hours, and if that doesn’t work, he thinks she should talk to the college dean about this change.  I think the woman should go directly to the college dean because the dean will be able to attend to the issue in a direct way, which will ultimately and hopefully get the results the woman needs.”

In the above response, I have italicized the opinion portion, making it clear that the opinion can also serve as your conclusion.

Remember: Question #5 will always be a conversation about a university-related problem, so keep in mind university lingo (library, dean, dorm room, etc.) will be inevitable.

 

Posted on October 18, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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As with all tips for the TOEFL writing section, it’s important to keep in mind that while minor errors are acceptable, the frequency of minor errors, particularly combined with larger grammatical problems will undoubtedly detract from your overall score.

In particular, ESL students generally have problems with count and noncount nouns, primarily because such nouns vary from one language to the next.  A primary way of getting this grammar down is memorizing most common noncount nouns.  Here is a quick 101 on count and noncount nouns to refresh your memory for test day

COUNT NOUNS:

Basically count nouns are nouns you can count, meaning they can be singular or plural.  “A” or “an” can often come before count nouns.  Count nouns can be multiplied by simply adding an “s.”

NONCOUNT NOUNS:

Noncount nouns are things you can’t count separately, meaning we usually do not use “a” or “an” before them.  These nouns also have no plural form and the words “some” or “the” often precede them.  Here are some common noncount nouns:

·       advice, air, accounting, behavior, coffee, heat, salt, copper, civics, calcium, clothing, film, equipment, bread, helium, singing, peace, pollution, violence, gasoline, water, responsibility, time

Sometimes, to make a noncount non-countable we use a phrase that gives them a countable form.  Here are some examples of such phrases:

·       a piece of meat

·       a game of tennis

·       a cup of water

·       a clap of thunder

Keep in mind: When we use “some” before a noncount noun, it often is referring to nouns that don’t have specific boundaries.  (Example: I drank some orange juice.)  Also, the word “people” often confuses ESL learners.  Typically, “people” is plural and does not have s singular form.  (Example: North American people value education.)  However, sometimes the word “people” can mean a specific group of human beings, meaning it can have both a plural and singular form.

Example:

The Chinese are a people of Asia.

Various peoples have settled in Vancouver.

Remember: Knowing the proper usage of noncount nouns is not only valuable on the writing section, but also the speaking section, too.  Keep a list handy of the most common noncount nouns by category so you won’t forget them.

Transitional words are crucial for a high score on the TOEFL writing section because raters are looking for smooth transitions from idea to idea and from paragraph to paragraph.  Not only do transitional words help papers read more smoothly, they also provide organization and understandability, not to mention improve the connections and transitions between thoughts on the speaking section!

Think of transitional words as divided into categories.  Here are several categories that will help you with both the integrated writing and independent writing.

Addition: also, again, as well as, besides, furthermore, in addition, moreover

Consequence: accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this purpose, hence, otherwise, so then, this, thereupon

Generalizing: as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, ordinarily, usually

Exemplifying: chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular, markedly, namely, specifically, such as

Illustration: for example, for instance, for one thing, as an illustration, in this case

Emphasis: above all, particularly, singularly

Similarity: comparatively, coupled with, identically, likewise, together with

Exception: aside from, barring, besides, excluding, outside of, save

Restatement: in essence, namely, that is to say, in short, to put it differently

Contrast: conversely, instead, on the other hand, on the contrary, rather, yet

Sequence: at first, to begin with, in the first place, for the time being, the next step, later on, in turn, with this in mind

Summarizing: after all, all in all, all things considered, by and large, in any case, in brief, in conclusion

In regards to grammar with transition words, if the transition begins the sentence then a comma must follow it.  If the transition word comes in the middle of a sentence, it’s proceeded by a comma or a semi colon and followed by a comma. When written at the end of a sentence, a transition word is preceded by just a comma.

Examples:

Therefore, I decided not to join the hockey team.

The tryouts took longer than anticipated; therefore, I decided not to join the hockey team.

I couldn’t come near to respecting him, however.

Transition words can also come in handy for the speaking section and can add coherence to your ideas.  Memorize several that stick out at you by their category and keep them in mind when it comes down to test day.

Remember: Transition words become ineffective when used repetitively: Use a variety of them when speaking and writing in order to effectively transition one idea to the next.

 

Similar to count and noncount nouns, definite and indefinite articles can be a trouble spot for ESL learners.  Rules vary from one language to another in regards to the usage of the definite versus indefinite, so some earnest practice with its rules in English would be of great advantage for the TOEFL exam.

In general, when speakers and writers do not have a specific person, place, or thing in mind, the corresponding nouns are known as non-specific and are often preceded with the indefinite article: “a” or “an” in the singular.  Often times, too, a noun is definite when a speaker mentions it the first time and then definite (“the”) from there on out.

Examples:

What a fascinating story you just told!

Yes, the story was very exciting.

In regards to definite articles, we often use “the” when the speaker, listener, or writer knows the specific person, place or thing that’s being discussed.  “The” is used both for noncount nouns and singular and plural nouns that fall under the “definite” category.

Examples:

The chowder we had at noon was fantastic.

The artwork is 100% authentic to the African region.

Definite articles are also used to describe something special, or unique.  Examples of unique nouns would be: the moon, the sun, the Empire State Building, the Big Dipper, etc…

Definite articles have further usages as seen in the following ways:

  • public places: the library, the movies
  • specific names of geographical places: the Great Lakes, the Nile River, the Amazon
  • countries: the U.S., the United Kingdom

Overall, the definite and indefinite articles take some time to get used to in the English language.  My advice would be to memorize well-known definite articles first (countries, places, etc…) and to pay close attention to how indefinite articles and definite articles are used in conversation in both TV and film.

Remember: If you are not a native English speaker, keep in mind that these rules are probably different than in your native language.  Keep these rules close to you so that come test day you are using a, an, some and the correctly on both the speaking and writing section.

 

Posted on September 26, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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The adjective clause is an important aspect of grammar to keep in mind on the TOEFL writing portion.  Unlike the adverbial clause, which is mostly used on the integrated essay for compare/contrast, the adjective clause can be found in both the integrated and independent writing sections.  What do adjective clauses do and when is it important to use them?  (Please note: Adjective clauses can also be referred to as adjectival or relative clauses.)

An adjective clause will contain the following:

·       a subject and a verb

·       a relative pronoun: who, whom, whose, that or which OR

·       a relative adverb: when, where or why

·       also, the adjective clause will ultimately function as an adjective

Adjective clauses are divided into two main categories: identifying and nonidentifying.

Identifying Adjective Clauses give information that is essential to the overall meaning of the sentence.

For example: Men who are willing to work will undoubtedly find a job.

In this sentence, the adjective clause is who are willing to work.  In other words, if we extracted who are willing to work from the sentence it would alter its meaning entirely, making it identifying.

Nonidentifying Adjective Clauses give nonessential information – they serve the purpose of adding extra bits of information that aren’t crucial to the overall meaning of the sentence.

For example: The movie lasted about three and a half hours, which at times felt somewhat longer, so I made sure to have plenty of soda and popcorn.

The adjective clause which at times felt somewhat longer isn’t exactly necessary in terms of the overall meaning of the sentence.  The main ideas expressed in the sentence are in the beginning and the end, making the middle somewhat additional and nonidentifying.  (Also, with nonidentifying adjective clauses “that” is not used.)

Overall, adjective clauses will pepper your writing and allow your ideas to come across smoother and clearer.  Just make sure when you use them to acknowledge whether you are using identifying or nonidentfying so you have mastery of your own TOEFL writing.

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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The adjective clause is an important aspect of grammar to keep in mind on the TOEFL writing portion.  Unlike the adverbial clause, which is mostly used on the integrated essay for compare/contrast, the adjective clause can be found in both the integrated and independent writing sections.  What do adjective clauses do and when is it important to use them?  (Please note: Adjective clauses can also be referred to as adjectival or relative clauses.)

An adjective clause will contain the following:

·       a subject and a verb

·       a relative pronoun: who, whom, whose, that or which OR

·       a relative adverb: when, where or why

·       also, the adjective clause will ultimately function as an adjective

Adjective clauses are divided into two main categories: identifying and nonidentifying.

Identifying Adjective Clauses give information that is essential to the overall meaning of the sentence.

For example: Men who are willing to work will undoubtedly find a job.

In this sentence, the adjective clause is who are willing to work.  In other words, if we extracted who are willing to work from the sentence it would alter its meaning entirely, making it identifying.

Nonidentifying Adjective Clauses give nonessential information – they serve the purpose of adding extra bits of information that aren’t crucial to the overall meaning of the sentence.

For example: The movie lasted about three and a half hours, which at times felt somewhat longer, so I made sure to have plenty of soda and popcorn.

The adjective clause which at times felt somewhat longer isn’t exactly necessary in terms of the overall meaning of the sentence.  The main ideas expressed in the sentence are in the beginning and the end, making the middle somewhat additional and nonidentifying.  (Also, with nonidentifying adjective clauses “that” is not used.)

Overall, adjective clauses will pepper your writing and allow your ideas to come across smoother and clearer.  Just make sure when you use them to acknowledge whether you are using identifying or nonidentfying so you have mastery of your own TOEFL writing.

Posted on September 20, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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We all know the TOEFL writing section can create some widespread anxiety and trigger various questions: Will my writing be good enough?  What exactly are the raters looking for?  How much will grammar and punctuation count for my total score?

In general, grammar and punctuation are important on both the integrated and independent essays. However, minor errors are certainly forgivable, and if you only have a few they won’t be counted towards your total score.  Likewise, a significant knowledge of grammar is crucial for obtaining a high score.  This post will focus on adverbial clauses, which if used correctly might just help your score higher than you think.

Adverbial clauses are basically used to combine two ideas into one sentence.  They ultimately provide variety for the sentence and better transitions, particularly between paragraphs.  Here are some following adverbials, which will be very useful in a compare/contrast essay, which as you know, is the basis for the TOEFL integrated writing.

Contrast Advervials:

·       though/although/even though

Examples:

Though the test was tomorrow, the children failed to study.

Although the weather was cloudy, we continued to enjoy the outdoors.

Janice went to the theatre even though she heard the performances were lousy.

·       while

Example:

While the food wasn’t up to par, the dancing and live music were enormously entertaining.

·       despite the fact that

Example:

We thought the jazz band did a wonderful job despite the fact that the venue was too small.

Comparison Adverbials:

·       in the same way that

Example:

In the same way that Communism effected the global order, so has Capitalism on the modern family.

·       just as

Example: Just as 50 million Americans don’t have health care, 20 million Asians don’t have access to hospitals.

In general, adverbial clauses can help you immensely on the TOEFL writing section and will leave the mark of an advanced writer if used correctly.  Remember – adverbial clauses can come in the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.

Posted on September 13, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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Posted on January 17, 2011 by Manhattan Review

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