Conquer TOEFL by yourself! Part II


TOEFL Deciphered

TOEFL is divided into four major parts: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Because of the education system and the environment in Asia, Asian kids usually score relatively higher in reading, but have a disadvantage in listening and writing. Therefore, finding your own strength to complement the weaknesses is critical for this type of tests.

Mere imagination is useless, if you are not sure what is your strength (in fact, I think most people only have a vague concept, but is unclear about what their strengths are), then I suggest that you take a TPO simulation exam. Use the actual exam time to calculate the range of your abilities as well as analyze your strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can make better use of your time to improve the score you need in a short period.


Because reading is what most people do best, please be reminded that unless your English reading speed is fast, do not read every word from start to finish. Read the questionsreading
first, and think about what the questions focuses on to increase reading efficiency! Do not be frightened of the words you don’t know, testing you for difficult words is often not the objective of the test.

Keep in mind that the objective of the TOEFL examination is to determine whether you have the ability to study in English-speaking countries. So the primary goal is to master the key points and understand the meanings instead of focusing on your vocabulary volume or whether you have become an encyclopedia.


The writing section is divided into two parts: (1) “based on reading and listening” and (2) “based on knowledge and experience.”

I think that for most people, writing based on knowledge and experiences is not hard. Just remember that English writing is a more direct and clear style. Just make sure the Topic sentences, supporting ideas, and a conclusion are written in a simple and clear manner. If you follow this major structure, don’t deviate from it, and do not try to deliberately and excessively use difficult vocabulary words to flaunt. Then, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to obtain a great score.

taking toefl

The based on reading and listening part is usually more difficult. The speech you listened to may talk about the A perspective, but the article you read may raise the contradicting B perspective. So listen carefully to what the speaker said, and respond to the comparison areas mentioned in the article. List the relevant points, draw up an appropriate conclusion, and then you are good to go.

A few tips on how you can score higher points are listed below:

1. Clear structure!

This is being repeated again because it really is the top priority You can have a weak argument, even fail to understand what the speaker said or what the article meant, and forget a lot of the details; however, as long as your framework is there, you will get the basic points.

2. Commonly used examples

Although the words “for example” is a pretty boring method to introduce supporting ideas, it is simple and practical. As long as the example is good or the example was raised by the speaker or article, it can demonstrate your clear logic and understanding of the subject again.

3. Strong supporting references

You may be thinking, there is no Internet access during the test, so where is the data? However, the “based on knowledge and experience” writing section usually revolves around topics familiar everyone. When a person writes down straightforward facts, doesn’t it appear more convincing than “according to a survey from National XX Center”?

A person may suddenly be unsure of how to use authoritative references. In addition to using vague terms such as “according to survey/investigation,” maybe you can write something like, “The recent survey from Peking University revealed the fact that…”. Quoting well known schools to present an academic knowledge actually works pretty well, however, remember not to write about facts that you are not too familiar with, or the errors would become obvious and it would do more harm than good.

4. Use a good rhetoric and remember to provide a good ending.

Make use of some parallelisms and analogies to enrich the article. However, one thing is important. Try to finish off with ending sentences that links back to the main topic. The last sentences are usually the most impressive. The examiner has to read so many essays. So if the ending is strong and the grammar, sentence structure, or word choices are appropriate, the overall points will improve significantly as well.

[LISTENING (Part 1)]

TOEFL-listening-hubThe TOEFL Listening section is divided into two parts. Each part has a conversation and two lectures. Listening time for each section is approximately 20 minutes, and the answer time is 10 minutes. Therefore, each part takes approximately 30 minutes overall.
Because the TOEFL test is designed to test non-native English speakers or those who have not studied in English-speaking countries and determine whether they have sufficient English proficiency to live inside the campus, most of the dialogues will revolve around campus related topics such as questions related to registration matters, how to do homework issued by a professor, how to argue your own ideas with professors, etc. 90% of the dialogues are about daily life activities. So just relax, and you will soon know that the questions are actually pretty easy to answer.

What is worth noting is that the lecture parts instead may be discussing more specialized topics such as “Marine Ecology,” “Abstract Art History,” etc. You may encounter many technical terms that you are not aware of, or hopefully be fortunate enough to come across a field that you are familiar with during university studies. If that is the case, how do you prepare?

TOEFL is mostly testing for general English fluency abilities, so cramming school is really needed. The key is knowing how to improve yourselves. Please stay tuned as we will provide answers in the next part~