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TOEFL Tip #135: The Year In Review

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on December 30, 2011

In this last post of 2011, we’re taking a look back at the year. The Strictly English blog has been busy! As you look at the topics below, and perhaps revisit some items you may have missed when they were first posted, please take a moment to leave a comment. We are always eager to hear your feedback about items that you found particularly helpful, questions about a post, or suggestions for future items on the blog.

Perhaps Strictly English’s most exciting post was one of the last of the year. Two weeks ago, we announced a university scholarship worth $8,000.

Many of our posts are about the four sections of the TOEFL exam. In particular, a four part series on speaking, reading, listening, and writing discussed Strictly English’s recent research and experience on the TOEFL. Several posts, such as using a holistic approach to the TOEFL and an example of this approach, as well as the advice to be direct and simple, addressed multiple sections of the TOEFL.

Additional topics about the Speaking section included elocution, diction, speaking with feeling, blending sounds, and news about a change to Speaking Task One. The Listening section also featured posts about using metaphoric idioms, and listening to public radio. In the Writing section, we discussed how less is more, touch typing, and why it’s important to use a QWERTY keyboard. We also spread the word about changes to the Reading section.

Another major focus of the blog this year has been on issues related to mastering English. We have discussed the difference between ESL and EFL, using translation programs, TOEFL as a test of effective communication, the “J-Curve” of learning, fossilized grammar, possibilities for rapid improvement, and how TOEFL scores correspond to a native speaker’s ability to speak English.

We had a number of posts about preparing for the TOEFL and scoring issues on the exam. We were happy to share the news of a pharmacist who received a 29 on his Speaking section. We also reported on the results when a native English speaker who is in high school took the TOEFL, discussed whether a high score on the TOEFL improves a student’s chances of admission, outlined the timeline for TOEFL preparation, discussed differences among test preparation books, noted that achieving the score you want often requires taking the test twice, and alerted students to an apparent gap in the TOEFL testing calendar. We shared the results of several students who requested rescores (here and here). We also reported that test results from the December 17 TOEFL exam have been lower than expected.

Strictly English addressed some general topics this year. We gave readers information about the TOEFL and student visas, and about how to register as a group for the TOEFL. Because the TOEFL is primarily for students who are entering college, we suggested that a familiarity with college life would be helpful on the exam. We also had a series of posts related to studying and practicing for the TOEFL. We discussed study habits, scheduling time to study, practicing with notes and with distractions, the difference between practice speed and performance speed, recognizing signs of nervousness and converting nervousness into excitement. We also did a post about Strictly English’s Critical Thinking and Analytical Writing program.

We were pleased to feature guest posts this year. Two posts from Grockit addressed the GMAT official guide and the newly formatted GRE. A post from Harriet Murdoch discussed how the TOEFL can help in business school and beyond, while Renee Hoekstra made suggestions about how to handle test taking anxiety. wrote about using a U.S. admissions consultant.

Finally, Strictly English partnered with Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) this year. After reminding students about a gap in TOEFL’s testing schedule from mid-December 2011 to mid-January 2012, we discussed changes in the PTE Academic score report, ensuring authentic PTE Academic score reports, and a program called PTE Young Learners for younger students who are not yet ready to take Pearson’s more advanced tests.

As you consider your goals for the new year, resolve to make Strictly English part of your overall preparation for the TOEFL, PTE Academic, or IELTS. Read the blog every week, work through the free exercises on our site, and sign up for tutoring as your exam date draws closer.

Happy new year!

Categories: TOEFL Preparation

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