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TOEFL Tip #201: Use Google Alerts To Track TOEFL News

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 28, 2013

Keeping up with the latest information about the TOEFL exam is important. Whether the news is a policy change regarding administration of the TOEFL exam or an expanded use of TOEFL scores, anyone studying for the TOEFL exam should follow developments from ETS.

But how can you do that easily? With so many sources of information today, it’s hard to make sure you read everything regularly.

Rather than reading everything in the news to find one story, let Google scan the news for you, and deliver an alert to your email when there’s a relevant item. Setting up a Google Alert is a quick, easy process. Decide the search you want Google to perform – pick something simple like “TOEFL news.” When you enter your search into the “search query” box, you will see a preview of results. You might need to play around with variations on the search terms to get the precise results you want. Next, choose which types of sources you want scanned – news items, blogs, and so on. Select how many alerts you want to receive, and how often you want to receive them, and enter a Gmail address. That’s it!

Ready to get started? Go to the Google Alerts page.

TOEFL Tip #200: Use To Practice Paraphrasing

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 20, 2013

Accurately paraphrasing a passage in the TOEFL Reading section can help you with various types of questions, such as vocabulary, understanding the details of the passage, and inserting a sentence into the passage. Yet, for many students, paraphrasing is a challenging skill. You need to capture the essential information in the original material without repeating key vocabulary or sentence structure. In addition, you will usually use fewer words in a paraphrase than in the original passage.

But how can you practice paraphrasing and know that your work is accurate? Use a website like

We at Strictly English love, for its broad range of topics, and for its use of easily accessible English. In fact, we think it’s such a valuable resource that we’ve been giving our clients one month of free access to for over a year now.

Here’s one suggestion for using to practice paraphrasing. Read the entry on the novel Black Beauty, and then read the Wikipedia entry for the same novel. Notice that you can understand much more of the Wikipedia entry’s vocabulary because you’re already familiar with the ideas from the version. Words like “disabled,” “composed,” and “forthrightly” in the Wikipedia version are easier to figure out when you have the context of “lame,” “written,” and “outwardly” from the version. You can also start with the Wikipedia version, paraphrase it yourself, and then compare your paraphrase with the version to test your accuracy.

Try it for yourself! Find a topic from that is also in Wikipedia, and see how much of the harder English you can understand after you’ve read the easy version on

TOEFL Tip #199: 2013 TOEFL Scholarship Program In Japan

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 15, 2013

Are you a student currently living in Japan who will be starting an undergraduate or graduate program in the 2013 academic school year? You may be eligible for a new scholarship!

ETS, the company which administers the TOEFL exam, has announced that it will be awarding a total of US $42,000 to 14 students; each award will be US $3,000. The awards will honor students’ outstanding academic achievement.

According to the announcement from ETS, some criteria for the scholarship include:

• currently live in Japan
• complete the online scholarship application and upload academic transcripts
• hold a grade point average of 80 or higher on a 100-point scale, or a 3.0 grade point average or higher on a 4-point scale
• begin an undergraduate or graduate degree in 2013 at a college or university listed in the TOEFL® Destinations Directory (PDF)
• have a valid TOEFL test score used as a requirement for admission into an undergraduate or graduate program
• demonstrate effective leadership skills and an overall well-rounded portfolio with extracurricular activities, including community service

Click here for additional information and requirements.

If you’re interested, don’t delay. Applications are due by April 30th, and notifications will be made in May 2013. Good luck!

TOEFL Tip #198: TOEFL Exam Is Possibly On The Rise In Japan

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 8, 2013

Two recent proposals being considered in Japan suggest that the TOEFL exam may become a very important measure of English proficiency in that country.

One proposal is to use TOEFL exam scores as part of the criteria in the university admission process. A different test of English is currently used, but it has often been criticized for focusing too much on the rules of grammar and content that can be memorized. Although news of this proposal has not been confirmed by the majority political party, it is being widely reported in local newspapers.

The other proposal concerning the TOEFL exam would make TOEFL scores necessary for applying for government ministry positions, starting in 2015. A spokesperson for the National Personnel Authority has confirmed that his agency is seriously considering this proposal, to better prepare Japan’s bureaucrats for the increasingly international aspect of their work. The decision about whether to use the TOEFL exam, or another exam such as the Test of English for International Communication (also administered by ETS), is expected to be made by the end of the year.

Both of these proposals point to the importance of communicating well in English, beyond memorizing the language’s rules.