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TOEFL Tip #134: Dec 17th Tests Scores Lower than Expected

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on December 29, 2011

If it’s true that misery loves company, then a lot of you can take comfort in that your lower-than-expected TOEFL scores from the Dec 17th TOEFL test are on average with many other people’s scores.

This is not only being reported from out clients at Strictly English, but also from other schools’ students.

But Why? How could the whole world bomb (see definition 5) the same test? Did TOEFL deliver a bad test that day? Did TOEFL design a new test that’s simply harder than before?

Probably not.

Most likely it’s because this one test is, in many test-takers’ minds, the most important test of the year. If you’re an MBA candidate, this was the last test you could take if you wanted to apply for Round Two admissions. If you’re an undergraduate applicant or an applicant to graduate school, this was the last test you could take if you wanted your scores comfortably in advance of your application deadlines. Even if you didn’t really have an official deadline for your TOEFL, there was still that desire to finish the year with TOEFL behind you!

Simply said: everyone’s nerves got the best of them. And what Strictly English has noticed over its nearly 8 years of tutoring is that nothing kills a TOEFL score quicker than being nervous. We have had scores (see definition 11) of students who have performed wonderfully week after week in our tutoring sessions, only to come back from the test and say that they froze with panic once the test started. Only after they overcame their fear of the test were they able to deploy Strictly English’s strategies (or anyone’s strategies for that matter) successfully.

So now what?

If you’re going to take the test again in January, then the most important thing to remember is: DO NOT PANIC!!! Worrying will get you nowhere. You must remind yourself that if you worry on test day, you will fail! So what’s the point in generating all that anxiety when it’s just going to work against you anyway.

What to do?

1. Read our article about how to recognize anxiety as excitement. If you can shift your perception of your emotions, you’ll do much better!

2. Get a mild anti-anxiety pill from you doctor. There is NO SHAME in telling your doctor that you get nervous on tests and that you have a big test coming up soon. You and he can discuss if there are medical options with minimal or no side effects. Most one-time antidepressants are not habit forming.

3. Schedule two tests a week apart. We have found this strategy really relaxes people!

4. Get a relaxation tape and practice some visualizing exercises.

In short. have confidence that you’re on the right track and that your English is strong!


Categories: Industry Issues,Listening,Reading,Speaking,Test day,Writing

5 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. Oksana

    wrote on December 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I am an English teacher and I took the exam on December 17. It was really difficult. A lot more difficult than I had expected. Reading was a killer. I knew the texts were going to be difficult and long. That was not a problem. I think, the questions were not well thought, sometimes it seemed to me there was no the correct answer among the 4 choices. I got 23 in reading. I did all the practice tests I could find in the library and every time I scored 28-30 in practice tests. I got 25 in listening. I was so tired and frustrated after the reading section that it influenced my listening comprehension skills. I scored 30 in speaking and 24 in writing. This is something I cannot understand why and I am going to pay these darn $60 for re-scoring my writing. They describe it as not very clear! Let’s see what other raters say. I feel really ashamed with this result and I do think that the exam on this particular day was more difficult than on other days!

  2. Me

    wrote on January 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    You are probably right. I scored 23 in Reading also and I am not an english teacher like you. I found it extremely difficult!! No problem with Listening and Speaking (26 and 24). But the best score I obtained was from Writing (28). All in all, I feel satisfied because the overall score is 101 (over 100). I will not be taking this exam again for a looooong time hahaha.

  3. Mirlind

    wrote on January 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I am going to take toefl next week january 13th I hope it will not be difficult .But what do you think it is going to get more difficult or not ? thank you

  4. Strictly English TOEFL Tutors

    wrote on January 7, 2012 at 7:05 am

    THe difficultly of the test should not have changed. It’s really the mindset of the test taker that changes depending on their expectations. If you’re really nervous, then the test will be harder than if you are relaxed.

  5. Luu, Kim

    wrote on July 1, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Actually, I did not take the test on Dec 17, 2011, so I do not know about the test. However, I agree that anxiety can lower our scores. When I am panic, I can not take care of my pronunciation and grammar in my speaking. Moreover, my voice is also tremble. Those make my speeches be not understandable. I think that I need to find a solution for myself to overcome panic. Maybe, I practice a lot and believe that I am in the right track, so I will be more confident.

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