Hello, I am Digi. Let me write an essay about my studies in Martin’s. I got my target score in TOEFL; a score that I think will qualify me to enter the graduate school in Korea that I am aiming for. ma
When I saw my score this morning, I was very surprised. I did not expect that score! It was my first time to take the test, and I’ve only started studying TOEFL three months ago. I am satisfied with my score.
I want to give credit to my teachers. Actually, I could not even say a simple sentence like, “let me introduce myself” when I came here. The point is that the fact that I could do it means you can also do it; and perhaps you can do it more easily than I did. Anyway, let me talk about how I studied for the past three months. I hope the information that I share will be useful especially for those of you who are also preparing for the TOEFL.
I spent one month in Longlong and two months in the ESL course here in Martin’s. It helped me improve my basic skills particularly in speaking. When I came here, my goal was to get a TOEFL score to enter a graduate school in Korea. I thought that I should master basic speaking skills before joining the Test Course and it turned out to be a good move for me. Eventually, I switched courses from ESL to Test Course and started preparing for the TOEFL.
At first, I didn’t know which sections of the test to choose for my individual classes. You know, there are 6 parts as I learned here: independent speaking, integrated speaking, independent writing, and integrated writing for individual classes and reading and listening for group classes. I chose independent speaking, integrated speaking, integrated writing and reading for individual classes, and listening for group class.
My teacher in the independent speaking part said that I should find my own patterns to answer the questions and I struggled to make my own patterns, which can be difficult for beginners. And also for integrated speaking, as the teacher taught me, I tried to memorize templates for answering questions; this strategy has helped me speak smoothly. And for the independent writing part, I just wrote the essay using some patterns and various words that I learned in the class. For example, there are many words that have a similar meaning like talk about, say, explain, describe, discuss, insist, assert, emphasize on. The same is true for common words in the TOEFL such as lecture, listening passage, listening part, article, reading section, reading part, and so on. Being aware of these things helped me get a writing section score that is the highest among my scores in the four sections in the TOEFL.
For the reading part, the teacher taught me how to identify the right answer for each question type such as main topic, inference, and summary question. I learned the same technique in listening class.
However, to be honest, during the first month, I was confused and overwhelmed by too many things that I needed to learn. Even though I studied really hard and organized my time well, it didn’t seem to make things easier.
I was never absent in my classes and I still studied as best as I could. What was different from the previous program was that I changed my reading class to listening class because by that time I knew enough to prepare for the reading section by myself. Also, I became more familiar with response templates, so I could deal with the different speaking section questions with a lot more confidence. This is the part of the test that most students find very difficult.
Finally, in the third program, I was very scared of taking the real test. However, I was also looking forward to the challenge. I heard that my friend who studied here and prepared for the TOEFL for only two months got a score of 76, which was within his target score range. I thought to myself, “Can I do that?” I realized that if I can achieve a similar thing, then I have to take the test as soon as I can, while my preparation is going well and my skills are improving.
I promptly registered and a few days ago, in the middle of this fourth program, I took the official test. I got 80 points! After the third program, I started applying everything I learned so far to my official test preparation. I have improved so much, and this obvious improvement has motivated me to study and prepare for the test even harder.
From this point on, I would like to share with you some stuff that could help you tackle the TOEFL easily.
First, let’s focus on the independent speaking part. For questions 1 and 2, I recommend you to make your own response template or pattern. To illustrate, here’s a possible topic: “Some people like studying alone while others like studying in a group. Which do you prefer, and why?” In my case, I would respond to such question using one of my templates:
“I prefer studying in a group because it has obvious advantages over studying alone. First, studying in a group allows me to share a greater amount of knowledge and information with other people, so my grasp on the topic or study material would be better than if I study it alone, with only my own resources and effort to depend on. Furthermore, a study group is a good form of socialization, which is something that I consider important in my life. Thus, particularly if the other members in the study group happen to be my friends, I could socialize with them aside from studying, and that would definitely add a lot of enjoyment to a part of academic life that could sometimes be boring. ”
Now, look at this common question: “What do you want to do during your vacation?” Part of my response to this question would be something like, “I look forward to socializing and travelling to good places with my friends during vacation…”
How about these questions: “Where would you like to go during your vacation” and “Which places in your country or city would you recommend foreigners to visit?” For both questions, part of my response could include the following details:
I’d like to go to the palace, Gyungbokgung. It’s excellent for sightseeing, with its beautiful architecture, as well as socializing with friends and other people in the many restaurants around it that serve mouth-watering meals.
As you can see, it is possible to apply a single response pattern to various questions. In the examples above, I used the idea of socialization to form my response to at least three different questions.
Next, for the integrated speaking question 3, it is helpful to memorize and use such templates as “the man disagrees with the policy that…,” “His reason for claiming this is that…,” “According to the reading/announcement/notice…,” and so on.
For question 4, try the following: “The professor/speaker explains that…and he gives two examples…first…second…” For question 5, a basic but useful pattern would be something such as, “The man’s problem is that…so the woman suggests two solutions…first…second…I think the first solution would be better for him because…” And for question 6, which asks for a summary, try this pattern for a simple but clear, accurate, and well-organized response: “The speaker explains the process of…and expounds on the idea by giving two examples…”
I could outline my templates and strategies for the other sections of the test, but I’m confident that you understand the concept and that you could take it from here and start developing your own equally effective response templates.
Do not worry. It is completely possible to get your target score within the few months that you spend preparing for the test here. You can learn all that you need through the courses in Martin’s. The only other thing you need to develop is the willingness to invest time and effort in preparing for the test, the eagerness to become familiar with each question type in the TOEFL so you can respond with confidence and effectiveness to each of them.
And should you worry about your preparation, or panic about your test performance, simply make some adjustments to your approach to TOEFL, and try not to lose your focus. As I said, I was rather slow in English when I first came here, but now I have improved so much that I even got my target score in TOEFL. You can definitely do it, too. Go for it!