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TOEFL Tip #211: TOEFL Avoids Absolute Modifiers Throughout The Test

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on July 12, 2013

A common strategy for multiple choice exams such as the TOEFL is to try to eliminate one or more answers per question before selecting the answer you think is correct. By avoiding obviously-wrong choices, you can improve your chances of answering the question correctly.

But, if you’re not confident that you know the answer, how can you figure out which answers are obviously wrong?

In general, it’s best to be suspicious of answer choices on the Reading and Listening that indicate absolute conditions, or 100% agreement/disagreement about a topic. Words like these 


are red flags.

WHY does the TOEFL exam use these words in answers that are probably wrong?

Remember that the TOEFL is a test of your skill in English. If the answers are too obvious, then it would be very easy to pick answer choices as right or wrong.

So, TOEFL wants to challenge the test-taker. It’s better to present content that is full of POSSIBILITIES so that the test-taker struggles to decide MAYBE the correct answer is THIS or MAYBE it’s THAT.  Words like the ones listed above reduce, rather than expand, possibilities in an answer, and that makes them more likely to be wrong answers on the TOEFL.

Is it fair for TOEFL to use tricks like this one?

YES! As Benjamin Franklin is often credited as saying, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If the real world is not 100%, then how can TOEFL be 100%?

We at Strictly English applaud TOEFL for basing their exam on this fundamental truth of life and of critical engagement! Think twice before choosing the easy, obvious answer!


Categories: Listening,Reading,TOEFL for Pharmacy,TOEFL for University,TOEFL Preparation

3 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. StrictlyEnglish | Blog » TOEFL Tip #212: Avoiding Absolute Modifiers: Modal Verbs

    wrote on July 21, 2013 at 6:43 am

    [...] last week’s post, we talked about the importance of avoiding absolute answers on the TOEFL exam. TOEFL wants to [...]

  2. StrictlyEnglish | Blog » TOEFL Tip #213: Inference Is King!

    wrote on July 26, 2013 at 10:24 am

    [...] lateral thinking skills will be very useful when preparing for the TOEFL. Our recent posts about absolute modifiers in general and modal verbs in particular demonstrate how critical thinking can help you to choose [...]

  3. Halil

    wrote on November 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Thank you again, because this is a another good article.

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