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TOEFL Tip #138: Don’t Be Redundant; Don’t Be Redundant!

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on January 13, 2012

In a pressured situation, like taking the TOEFL exam, students can easily become redundant. They can feel like they need to repeat what they have said to make sure they are getting their point across. While this concern is understandable, it is also a mistake.

There are two types of redundancy. The first is redundancy of vocabulary, and the second is redundancy of ideas. Avoid both.

Evidently, the first type of redundancy means that you have a small vocabulary and therefore, are not proficient in English. One way to demonstrate proficiency in English is to have a number of ways to describe the same concept. For example, in addition to “car,” you could say automobile, auto, vehicle, or you could name the general type of car – sedan, hatchback, truck, van, and so on.

The second type of redundancy is directly related to the first. Although TOEFL doesn’t really score you on originality of thought, the problem with redundant ideas is that you will have a higher chance of collapsing into redundant vocabulary if you’re talking about the same idea in Paragraph 3 that you talked about in Paragraph 2.

Strictly English recently tested this approach. One of our researchers wrote an essay that used grammatically perfect intermediate English, and varied the ideas for each of the three reasons supporting his main thesis. However, the vocabulary was mercilessly repetitive. The essay scored only a 20.

To prevent redundancy of vocabulary, actively seek to learn new words. Look up any unfamiliar words, such as the linked definitions in this post. If you rarely, if ever, need to look up meanings when you read, you need to add more difficult material to your reading list.

Solving redundancy of ideas requires a broader approach as well. Viewing a topic from different perspectives will help add variety to your answers. Strictly English also has a list of ideas that work with almost every speaking and writing prompt. To learn this list and practice using it, contact us and enroll in a session today!

Categories: Speaking,TOEFL Preparation,Vocabulary,Writing

2 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. Yousuf

    wrote on June 11, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I learn a lot from this blog, I had the same problems in my previous TOEFL exams
    I think this is a great piece of advice, by different perspective, I will indeed get more ideas.
    If you can share more list of ideas for speaking and writing prompts, this will be great help.

  2. Luu, Kim

    wrote on June 30, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    I like this article because it shows my problems. From taking this great advice, I will learn more new words and practice questions with different aspects. Hopefully, in the next test, I will have better answers. Moreover, it would be great, if Strictlyenglish provides us the list of ideas

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