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toefl practice questions

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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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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Many students are often very perplexed as how to finish the TOEFL reading portion of the test on time.  On a TOEFL reading exam, you can expect anywhere from 3-5 reading sections.  Each reading section is broken down, as follows:

  • 1 page-long reading article on an academic topic (history, science, the arts, philosophy)
  • 13-14 corresponding questions
  • 20 minutes to read the passage and answer all questions

Reading on the TOEFL exam is not necessarily “normal reading.” In other words, students don’t have time to read the reading section in-depth, so a very essential skill is necessary: skimming.  Skimming is basically reading quickly for a general understanding of the passage, taking note of main ideas and overall organization.  How does one go about doing this?  Well, when you are skimming, keep the following in mind:

  • Read only the first two or three sentences of the first paragraph and the first and last sentences of each paragraph after that. Move quickly across the words as you read them – do not be tempted to read the passage word for word.
  • Take note of key words. As you skim each TOEFL reading article, you will probably notice words that are repeated or words that are synonymous with the main idea of the passage as a whole.  Taking note of key words, which are words that define the topic and supporting points of the passage, is crucial on the TOEFL.  More than likely, questions that follow will ask specifically about key words and if you have an idea of where they are in the passage, you will be able to answer the questions faster.
  • Don’t be afraid to take notes. Overall, taking brief notes on a reading passage can be very helpful because it will give you an idea of where to find specific bits of information in each passage.  Sometimes, it might even be useful to give each paragraph a word or phrase that best summarizes its main idea.  Keep in mind that all note-taking will have to be on a separate piece of paper because the TOEFL iBt is now given on a computer.

When you finish skimming each passage, which generally takes about 1-2 minutes, you should have an outline of the passage in your mind.  This outline will serve as a guide when answering the bulk of the TOEFL reading questions and hopefully, a tool to get you to finish each 20-minute reading section on time!

The TOEFL reading section is broken down into 10 different reading question types.  Many TOEFL test-takers find it easier to complete a reading section on time if they are aware of the reading questions they will encounter, and then be able to identify them.  Here is a quick rundown of each question type you will encounter:

  • FACTS/DETAILS: Fact/Detail questions want to know specific information found in the passage.  The easiest thing about this question type?  It’s always possible to find the answer, since it’s found directly in the passage!
  • NEGATIVE FACTS/DETAILS: These questions sometimes confuse students because they often ask for the wrong answer, not the right answer.  These questions are easily identified because they contain the words “NOT” or “EXCEPT.”
  • REFERENT: Another word for “referent” is “pronoun.”  These questions require a sharp eye and a solid knowledge of singular/plural, masculine/plural pronouns.
  • VOCABULARY: Vocabulary questions ask for definitions of specific words that are closest in meaning out of all four possible answers.
  • INFERENCE: Inference questions can be difficult because they are asking you to infer or imply something about the passage, meaning it’s not stated outright, like in a fact/detail question.
  • PURPOSE: This question type asks the reason, or purpose behind a reading passage or portion of a reading passage.  Often times, the word “purpose” is actually found in this type of question.
  • PARAPHRASE: Paraphrasing means saying the same thing in similar words.  On the TOEFL, paraphrase questions will ask you to choose a sentence that is most like a specific highlighted sentence within the passage.
  • COHERENCE: Another phrase for coherence questions is “sentence insertion.”  For these questions, you are required to take a sentence in bold and replace it within the most appropriate place within the passage.  Coherence questions require an eye for where a sentence is specifically placed within a sentence.
  • SUMMARIZING: Summarizing questions ask you to form a summary based off of six possible sentences.  You are often asked to choose three out of six that most closely resemble a topic sentence given to you – all of which are related to the reading passage.
  • CATEGORIZING INFORMATION: When approaching categorizing information questions, you are asked to place specific bits of information into categories related to the passage.  Often, categorizing questions are found at the end of a 20-minute reading section.

Overall, recognizing TOEFL question types can expedite your process when working through a reading section.  Along with each question type comes specific strategies – all of which a very knowledgeable TOEFL preparation instructor at Manhattan Review can assist you with!