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Many TOEFL classes do not teach “the counter argument” (otherwise known as the “opposing argument”) for students tackling the independent speaking and writing section. What is it? How is it used? If incorporated into responses effectively, the counter argument for independent speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL exam will strengthen your argument and help raise your score insurmountably. Let’s look at this example of an independent speaking response with a brief counter argument:
Independent Speaking Sample Question: Some people prefer one long vacation once a year while others prefer short vacations spread throughout. Which do you prefer and why? Include details and examples to support your explanation.
Sample Response: “I prefer shorter vacations spread throughout the year more than one long vacation because shorter vacations are more rejuvenating. During the year, I am able to take four to five short trips to smaller towns and beaches in the surrounding area of where I live and I feel so much more refreshed when returning to work after one of these short vacations. Also, with short vacations I am able to sometimes go by myself or take friends, so there is always a sense of variety with each trip. Some people might think one long vacation a year is better because it gives you more time away from your life and allows you to really be on vacation, but I think one long vacation can be tiring and at times quite boring. Over all, I prefer shorter vacation over longer vacations because for the above reasons.”
The sentence in bold is the counter argument in this sample response. Basically, is an argument stating the opposing view of your own and countering it with your own argument. This strengthens your overall opinion by acknowledging an opposing view.
Is the counter argument always necessary? No. You can get a great score on your TOEFL writing and speaking sections without it if you have a strong opinion and supporting details. However, if you are able to incorporate the counter argument into your response it will garner you more credibility as an English speaker, and give your response extra weight. (Extra good weight!)
Tip: If you’re worried about time on the speaking section, combine your counter argument with your conclusion, making them both in the same sentence. You can even bypass a conclusion and end your response with a counter argument, so long as you’re clear to argue back around it, ultimately favoring your own opinion.
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.
Step 4: Application Components
Although there are many components to the application, the following are common concerns of applicants and admissions committee members.
· Essay. Overall, tell your story honestly and with humanity while always answering the question. Describe your teamwork successes and work both in and out of the workplace.
· GMAT. Take a practice test and assess your scores against the ranges of your target schools. If your score is not up to par, consider a professional test preparation course. Give yourself adequate time to reach your target score and practice.
· Interview. Interviews are generally relaxed, but it’s recommended that you practice prior to your interview. Review your application, the school’s website, and come ready to have a good conversation. Avoid extreme wordiness, shyness, and poor eye contact, which all can come across as poor preparedness.
Step 5: Choosing Your School
· Consider attending the weekends for admitted students, which will give you a chance to meet admitted students and might help you decide on a school.
· You also may consider getting in touch with current students, faculty members and admissions staff.
· Reassess location benefits, reputation and your goals.
Step 6: Summer Before School
Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know members of your class at local events or online forums. In addition, if you’re in need of preparation consider taking refresher courses. Some students also take this opportunity to travel or visit friends and family, as school and work may not allow for extended trips or visits in the near future.
Step 7: Getting a Job
The process varies according to the school and your interests. Generally, if you are interested in a field that is typical of students in your program, you will find that the business school has its own process you can follow as soon as 1-3 months after you begin your study. If you are interested in an atypical path, you might have to do additional legwork on your own in terms of making contacts and getting interviews. Yet, each school will help you perfect cover letters and resumes and tailor them to the jobs you want.
Today we will cover a small yet focused and ambitious MBA program – Miami University’s Farmer School of Business.
Dean Roger L. Jenkins at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business has made significant changes to the MBA curriculum with far reaching effects.
Dean Jenkins chose 12 trusted faculty members to re-evaluate and restructure the curriculum. Jenkins did so with unique specifications:
- Base a new program off some top European B-school programs.
- Instead of the somewhat typical 2 year MBA program, Dean Jenkins switched to a fast paced 14-month program focused on efficiency.
- Add a required global component with an emphasis on studying and collaborating with the pan-Asian business community.
- Rather than the standard summer internship, Miami will institute a corporate internship that spans the entire 14 months. This internship is done in groups. The group is assigned a strategic problem that they are to work with.
A Long-Term Success Story
So far, after two graduating classes, Dean Jenkins and Farmer are pleased with the results. They are able to boast a 100% placement record for both classes. To further qualify the figure, Dean says they are “strong” placements, both in terms of salary and the organizations to which the students move.
The program, although still small with 20-25 students per graduating class, has been completely reinvented. The medium term goal is to have 125 students per class in the next 7-8 years. Over the next 20 years, they hope to grow to about 200 hundred students, remaining on the smaller end of the top 25 MBA programs. This is an interesting contrast to Miami’s very large undergraduate program.
Miami has also developed a strong new way for students to interface with their learning. Rather than having a traditional question and answer lecture format, they hope to have most of their curriculum based on video taped, online lectures. These lectures can be downloaded and viewed at the students’ convenience worldwide. This is in keeping with Miami’s desire to emphasize global study.
Based on the most recent data published by the GMAC, approximately 21% percent of GMAT tests are taken by repeat test-takers who have taken the test more than once within a year. If the data is segmented further, it shows that out of tests that score within the mean Total GMAT score range of 500 to 540, the percentage accounted for by repeat test-takers is approximately 28%. The average gain between the first test and the second test is about 30 points. That means repeat test taking may result in either an increase or decrease. An important side fact: about 20% of GMAT tests are taken for the purpose of submitting scores to a non-business graduate program.
Since each person is allowed to repeat the test up to five times a year and most repeat test takers test two or three times within a year, we can make some easy assumptions.
1) the total number of GMAT tests taken per year is 135,000 (rounded up from the 2005 data),
2) all tests required for non-business school graduate programs are taken one time only and also account for 20% in the score range of 500 to 540, and
3) all repeat GMAT test takers take on average 3 times a year, the above data implies that the number of repeat MBA-related test takers should represent just 10.6% of total MBA-related test takers or just 15.2% of MBA-related test takers with score of 500 to 540. This equates to a total repeat MBA-related test takers of about 14,310 a year.
This conclusion is in agreement with Manhattan Review’s advice to our own students: We generally recommend you to prepare well, stay focused, and then ace the GMAT in your “once and only” try. That way you can optimize the result without stretching yourself for an extended period. Also that way you don’t need to worry about recovering from bruised “ego”, exhausted soul, tighter purse string, and a swamped schedule. However, if you have taken the GMAT on your own before studying with us, we believe targeting specific weaknesses is most important. Rather than repeating an entire prep course, we recommend private tutoring so that you can customize your sessions.
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