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TOEFL Tip #21: Vocabulary Building

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on February 5, 2009

With between 3 and 5 vocabulary questions per reading passage, you can gain a lot of points on the Reading Section of the TOEFL if you know a lot of words. But learning thousands of words is almost impossible. So instead, try learning the roots, prefixes, and suffixes that make up English words.  Learning one root can give you 5, 10, or even 15 new words!  Go to Strictly English’s READING page and click on ROOTS, PREFIXES, AND SUFFIXES on the left-hand side.

TOEFL Tip #20: Be Direct

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on February 3, 2009

One of the biggest problems on the Speaking Section of the test is that people do not give clear, direct statements.  Try to train yourself to say: “I like dogs” instead of “Dogs are a thing that many people, like me, enjoy.”  The more direct you are, the better your answer. To practice becoming more direct, write one sentence down, then rewrite it with 30% fewer words.  As you learn to write such short clear sentences, then you’ll learn how to speak with a similar level of directness.

TOEFL Tip #19: Reading Passages On History

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on January 30, 2009

If you’re looking for a way to improve your reading of history passages, then I suggest that you check out this website.  It has some brief TOEFL-like articles that you can read.

To learn more about the Reading Section of the

TOEFL Tip #18: The Reading Passage For The 20-Minute Essay

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on January 29, 2009

I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes TOEFL makes things EASY for you!  After you finish listening to the lecture for the 20-Minute Essay, the reading passage returns. This helps you a lot. If you can locate the reading’s three main points, then they will help you to figure out what the listening was saying. So even if you didn’t understand the listening, all you have to remember is that it talked about the same points as the reading. Once you locate those points in the reading, they might help you to figure out what the listening was saying about those same points.

TOEFL Tip #17: Bad Subject/Verb Agreement Can Cost You Points

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on

If you have consistent subject verb agreement problems in your writing, it could lower your score up to 33%. So be careful. Make sure that every singular subject has a singular verb. For example: “he writeS” or “the sun burnS”. This is a very simple grammar point, so make every effort to remember to use your “S”s!

TOEFL Tip #16: How To Organize The 20-Minute Essay

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on

The twenty-minute essay requires you to summarize a reading and a listening on the same topic. The reading offers three points and the listening usually opposes those three points one at a time.  The best way to organize your essay, then is it have four paragraphs.

Paragraph one: Introduction
Paragraph two: Point one
Paragraph three: Point two
Paragraph Four: Point three

TOEFL Tip #15: Long And Short Reading Sections

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on January 28, 2009

TOEFL will either give you one hour to answer three reading passages or 1 hour and 40 minutes to answer 5 reading passages.  If you have 5 passages, you are only graded on three of them, but you don’t know which three. The other two passages are experimental passages that allow TOEFL to see if the questions are good TOEFL questions or not. If you get a long Reading Section (5 passages) then you will not have a long Listening Section.  Strictly English suggests being prepared for a long Reading Section. That way, you’ll be able prepared for one if you get it.  One way to prepare for a long reading is to read at homefor 1 hour and 40 minutes without stopping.

TOEFL Tip #14: Podcasts Can Help With Listening

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on January 10, 2009

iTunes has a great FREE podcast if you want to practice listening. it’s called ESL Podcast

What I suggest you do is download some of the episodes to your iTunes.  Then click on the little “i” button in the DESCRIPTION column. That will open up a window in which you will find the transcript of the listening.
Play the listening and read aloud the transcript at the same time you’re listening. Try to match your voice to the speaker’s voice. This will help you to learn how to speak with a more natural rhythm in English!

TOEFL Tip #13: Reading Section: Paraphrase Questions

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on

When answering paraphrase questions in the reading section, it helps to know how to break the original sentence down into smaller grammatical units.  For example, a really long sentence like “Since 2004, Jon, who is my teacher at Strictly English, has been winning awards, from the National Council on Education, for his excellent teaching” can be broken down into smaller parts:

Since 2004Jonwho is my English teacher at Strictly Englishhas been winning awardsfrom the National Council on Educationfor his excellent teaching.
Although this sentence appears long, it has a smaller “sentence” (what we call an independent clause) inside it: Jon has been winning awards for his excellent teaching and three smaller “ideas” in it:

Since 2004
who is my English teacher at Strictly English
from the Nation Council on Education
Now you can focus on one idea at a time and make sure it matches the paraphrase.  For example, an answer choice will be wrong if it says “before 2004″ or “in 2004″ because “since” does not mean the same thing as “before” or “in”.   You don’t need to look at the rest of the answer choice if this first part doesn’t match!

TOEFL Tip #12: Listening For The Main Idea

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on

The TOEFL likes to trick you by beginning a lecture with a topic that the lecture is NOT about. For example, a typical lecture will begin by summarizing what the class was supposed to read the night before. Or, it will begin by talking about the previous lecture. 

After three or four sentences, the professor will say something like, “But in today’s class, I want to discuss . . .” or “Although this is interesting, there are other possibilities too.”
It is important for you to realize that the real ”main topic” of the lecture is going to be whatever the professor talks about after he says “but” or “although,” NOT what he first talked about when the lecture began.
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