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.)
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
Not getting your ideal score on your listening section and looking for concrete ways to improve it? The listening section on the TOEFL exam can be overwhelming for many students with its complicated lectures and at times lengthy conversations. Here are 5 proven tips to up your score – guaranteed!
(1) Keep it simple. Remember: you don’t have to write everything down. The TOEFL listening section does not want or expect you to write down every single detail – such a feat would be impossible, even for a native speaker. When taking notes for conversations, differentiating by columns what the male speaker says versus the female is quite useful, as there will more than likely be questions regarding opinions and statements from each speaker. With lectures, make sure to write down key words and not get bogged down with too many details. You don’t want to lose track of the lecture or conversation because you’re so concerned with specifics.
(2) Organize your notes. It’s always a smart idea to number or letter your notes by section, particularly if the speaker gives examples. Be aware that when any sort of process is described in a lecture or conversation there will be questions later on in the test regarding what order the process comes in. Organizing your notes as you hear them will save you time later and be invaluable when answering “rhetorical function” questions, which are very common on the listening section.
(3) Listen to academic audio recordings. If you can, go to your library or search online for academic lectures; specifically, history, science, philosophy or the arts. The lectures presented on the TOEFL exam are lectures that would be typically heard by freshmen or sophomore students at a university. Challenge yourself by seeking these types of audio recordings out so you can be familiar with the structure and language. If you can’t find academic recordings, then try listening to the news online, which is usually spoken in Standard American Dialect and uses advanced vocabulary words, all of which are applicable to the TOEFL.
(4) Watch TV. Yes – believe it or not, you’re being given advice to watch TV to study for the listening section on the TOEFL. Not just any type of TV program, either: sitcoms and hour-long dramas. Why? These are useful to the conversations presented to you in the TOEFL listening section because they are spoken in dialogue and deal, ultimately, with problems and solutions. When watching a sitcom or hour-long drama, take notes and make sure to identify the problem and the solution.Research any idioms or slang you might hear – this will also come in handy, as many rhetorical function questions deal directly with idiomatic expressions.
(5) Listen to less music and more spoken words. Download news articles from the BBC or Business English from I-Tunes and try to listen to them instead of music for thirty minutes a day. Pick topics that interest you – there are a wide variety of podcasts to choose from. This will sharpen your listening skills and expand your vocabulary, not to mention make you more well-informed.
Remember, listening skills can be improved just as your reading, speaking and writing skills. And keep in mind – the TOEFL does not expect you to have a preconceived knowledge of any of the material based in the lectures or conversations, so don’t feel overwhelmed when you are given a lecture on cellular division in plants or the geographical history of a particular nomadic tribe.
The United States is home to many of the world’s top MBA programs and has a vast array of schools and program choices. Many of its schools provide opportunities not only in the United States but also globally. In addition, international students are welcome applicants in US schools. They contribute to student body diversity, bring professional experience from outside the US and, very importantly, provide different perspectives to students and faculty, broadening the horizons of all.
Though business schools in the United States traditionally offer 2-year full-time MBA programs, encouraging an internship between the first and second years, MBA programs in the US have expanded in recent years to include 1-year programs, distance learning programs and online, part-time MBA programs. In addition, some programs offer students the exciting opportunity to study in Asia, Europe and the United States. Plentiful options also exist for the experienced professional seeking Executive MBA training.
That said, international applicants sometimes find attending US schools to be tricky, requiring a lot of advanced preparation— especially in the post-September 11th and post-financial crisis environment.
A great method to find out detailed information about American and European business schools is to attend different MBA tours, which hold forums all over the world to connect interested applicants with business school admissions staff.
Assessing Language Challenges
Some students may find that getting used to life in the US is challenging. Academic, language, or personal adjustments can be difficult, so be sure to give yourself a chance to adjust—for most of us, these things just take time.
Classroom time, for example, is packed with discussion, debate, projects, and student presentations. International students will want to familiarize themselves with teaching styles prevalent in the US and be sure that they are comfortable with them, or at the least open to them before school begins.
In addition, for non-native English speakers who lack experience in English-speaking classrooms and professional environments, language difficulties may be an obstacle. As part of your b-school application, non-native English speakers will be required to take the TOEFL exam, an English proficiency test. This test requires study and rigorous preparation for many applicants. Score requirements vary according to school, but most schools do provide clear guidelines on what score is acceptable. After completing the TOEFL, the best way to meet the challenge of entering a program in English is to practice and prepare.
Take English as a Second Language classes, sometimes offered during the summer at particular business schools, or a Business English course, if a student’s vocabulary and business language is more problematic. However, keep in mind that with foreign languages improvement does not happen overnight. It requires time, hard work, and patience.
It’s also important to note that one of the primary factors in obtaining internships and full-time jobs in the US is extremely strong spoken English language skills. For those students whose English language skills aren’t strong, they often don’t fare well in the interview process. So, they find themselves without the types of opportunities that they’re really seeking.
The Listening section of the TOEFL can be one of the most difficult sections on the test. Of course, the best way to improve one’s listening is to practice over time. Most people find that watching television shows or movies in English or listening to songs in English are great ways to improve. If you are fortunate enough to have friends who are native speakers of English, or if you live in a country in which the predominant language is English, then you also have a great advantage.
The Listening section requires you to sort through lectures and conversations that are purposefully filled with distracting pauses and brief digressions such as “um” and “uh”. Although this section may be frustrating, you can conquer it by learning to find certain patterns.
There are two different kinds of speech to listen to in this section:
This section will simulate an academic setting where a professor lectures to a group of students. In a similar fashion as the reading section, you are asked to answer questions based on the information provided. Although you cannot see the paragraphs in front of you, the speaker will provide an introduction, supporting reasons and examples, and some sort of conclusion.
Listen for the following:
1.) Topic – This should appear early in the lecture, after the greeting.
-Identify what the topic is.
-Figure out why the topic is being addressed
2.) Purpose – Soon after the topic is introduced, the purpose of the lecture will be stated.
3.) Examples – The majority of the lecture will be examples and details. Don’t try to write down or memorize every single one.
4.) Conclusion – Note any final points or summaries
In this section, you will usually listen to conversations between two students. When listening to a conversation, pay attention to the following:
1.) Purpose – What do the people in the conversation hope to achieve? Why are they having this conversation?
2.) Details – What specific information is offered? How do these examples and details relate back to the purpose?
3.) Conclusion – Is there any resolution? Do the people achieve their purpose?
Use these tips when practicing with sample drills in TOEFL listening books or by listening to American news reports.
On January 5 and 6, 2008 we were busy at our 2-day course MBA Boot Camp – Communication and Culture held in conjuction with Columbia University’s Chazen Institute International Orientation. Manhattan Review instructors John Beer and Susan Civale taught a diverse group of non-native English speaking Columbia MBA students. The course covered an array of what we call Smart Business Talk topics, such as:
· Accent Reduction · Grammar Specifics · Effective Writing · Cultural Etiquette· Useful Common Idioms· Sports-Related Expressions· Presentational Skills
Coffee and breakfast were provided in the mornings, which jump-started full days of learning and interaction. The classroom was a good size, tiered, and half-circle shaped, which facilitated interaction between instructor and students. Each student received personalized instruction especially on the accent reduction sections. They enjoyed the interaction and enthusiasm from our instructors.
Students were intrigued by the lessons covering sports-related expressions. They learned about phrases such as “the ball’s in one’s court” and when to appropriately use them. They also learned origins of idioms and common uses. For example, Winston Churchill coined the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” in his first speech as prime minister.
One of the favorite components of the seminar was when students could work together on group presentations. During this section, students were put into small groups and given a topic that needed to be applied to their various cultures. For example, one group had to present on common practices, regulations, and codes in high schools from their own cultures. Students were eager to learn about each other’s cultural practices and norms.
Students found the individual presentation section to be the most challenging yet rewarding experience. Unlike the group presentations, this section involved no preparation time. Each student was given a topic and then had to address the audience with a short presentation. Prior to the students’ performances, they reviewed presentational skills about both verbal and non-verbal communication. Impromptu presentations, although challenging, are common in both B-school classes and the work place. These kinds of presentation skills are essential for the field.
We work hard to ensure that students who seek to attend B-school can achieve their goals whether they wish to pursue their degree in their native country or travel aboard. This is why we offer TOEFL, Career Training, and Advanced English courses in addition to GMAT courses. We take pride in the positive feedback received from students and in our relationships with various highly regarded B-schools.
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