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Kicked TOEFL's rear end

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thebigkats Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
13 Sep 2010
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Kicked TOEFL's rear end

Post Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:17 am
Ok, so after taking GMAT and scoring 710 (much lower than expected), I decided to keep with my plan and tackle TOEFL given that I had to take it as part of eligibility criteria.

Given that I was leaving for Europe for much needed vacation in June beginning, I decided to get TOEFL out of the way and selected date of May 28th in San Bruno center at 8AM. So then I started preparing and opened the book. My plan was to spend a couple of hour every day just like GMAT. however it didn't really work out because the entire TOEFL book was done in a few days Sad. moreover, I was not scoring that well on practice tests on CD that came with book either. so I thought of postponing the test date.

But then my procrastination came to my rescue for the first time in life (all other times my wife gives me hell for it Smile ). I realized that I had not postponed the date until T-6 days. And that is when I got a jolt. I took the book out, dusted it off and started looking at it all over again and realized a few important points..

1. It is not GMAT. Don't think of RC in TOEFL same as RC in GMAT. they are different
2. TOEFL is not testing your proficiency... it is testing your English language knowledge. you don;t have to impress with the content, vocabulary, complexity /construction of your writing. All they are looking for is whether or not you understand English and can express yourself in legible form
3. Toefl is more about 'general human' test than GMAT which tests how super-human you are Smile
4. You have to take it easy.. easier you take it, better you will score
5. Unlike GMAT, TOEFL is noisy as multiple people are speaking at the same time.... so practice in everyday situation. For example, I studied while my 6 year old was constantly making Star War noises around me :p

So with above points, I studied a total of ~8 hours in last 6 days... have been working on a really important project in the company and could not afford to divert my attention too much... including 3 hours on T-1... I know some people say that you must not study at all on day before test. But it doesn't work for me.. I have to study on day before test else I lose my confidence. You have to find what works best for you.

So on Saturday, woke up at 5:30 and left home at 6:15AM, reached center at 7:30 and started the test at 8:20. First thing I noticed was the noise. It was really difficult to concentrate, but I told myself that everyone is going through the same and test makers must have taken it into consideration. So off I went... RCs were easier compared to GMAT. The paragraphs were in front of me at all times and were related to history, science and general topic.. all the things I like reading about. so I was able to finish them before end of allotted time.

Listening test was easy also, all you have to do is to listen, visualize the situation, put yourself as one of the characters and a friend of yours as the other character and you are set. You will automatically put emotions, background etc. in the conversation and before you know it, answer all the Qs.

Speaking test was tough.. you only have 15 sec to think before speaking for 45 sec (only). So you have to decide what to say, which points to pick, words to choose as well as tone to use. It all felt so difficult that I decided to visualize as if I am speaking to my mom who is not that proficient in English and used easy words, slower delivery and short sentences.

Writing test was easy... I took it same as GMAT essay and followed exactly the same strategy. For opinion essay, make 2 points in favor, 1 point covering the other side, type start and end paras before starting the middle opinion paras. And ensure to use the connecting words... first, second, furthermore, alternatively, for example, on the other hand.. etc. (Dana J you rock.. this is your strategy)

All in all, 4 hours done, a happy camper steps out of test center without knowing the actual results. So the excruciating wait starts. During my Europe trip, I decided to check my emails only once and result was still not out. So I waited and then it came.... 118/120... I screamed! Really!!!

I lost 2 points in speaking (which my wife had predicted anyways given that I speak too fast Smile )

So here it is.. 118... my hopes to make it to Haas are still alive Smile


Everything is possible in this world. Even the word Impossible says - I'm possible

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DanaJ Site Admin
01 Jan 2009
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Post Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:53 pm
WOW, congrats! That's a monster score! You really did beat it well Smile And thanks for the kind words on the writing part.

Haha liked the advice about practicing in noisy places Razz

Best of luck with your apps!

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