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I beat the TOEFL 120/120

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What did you think after reading this wall of text?

He's just being a dick, boasting about his score
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It was actually kinda helpful...I guess.
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go5u Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
24 Dec 2013
1 messages

I beat the TOEFL 120/120

Post Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:59 pm
Hi everyone,
I took the TOEFL this month, got my results and was positively surprised by my score. Because I think I am NOT the usual TOEFL test taker on this site, I wanted to share my experiences with you guys. Maybe it will help some people.

To explain my situation you have to understand this: I wasn't planning on achieving a great score. Some of the US universities I'm applying for just required me to score at least 80 points. I was confident enough to say that I would score at least 80 without any kind of special preparation. I was studying for other tests, so I only gave TOEFL a closer look for one evening. I found out that there are 4 sections, what these sections are about and did some random TOEFL reading questions I found on the internet. I did not care enough about the test to look for listening, speaking or writing tasks, because I couldn't find them directly. So that was my preparation. And no, I am not trying to merely boast here (Maybe a little bit...) and no, I'm not just being a dick (Maybe there's a tiny bit of truth in there too...), but I want to explain you why I think I could get a 120 on the TOEFL without studying.

First of all, if you're on this site, I'm assuming you know at least a little bit about the test. I won't explain the 4 sections as many before me did it better than I probably could. And they have enough useful tips like rushing the listening section so that you can do the speaking section in silence. And I wish I would have known some of them, but that's an other topic.

The reading section is quite simple. I think the only tip I can give here is, read the whole passage first. It will give you a better overview and in the log run save you some time. Your comprehension of the excerpt will definitely better too.
I did not know at all what was awaiting me in the listening section. I didn't know the format nor the difficulty level. So I ended up furiously taking notes about the smallest details which turned out to be total nonsense. The questions are really vage and not specific and you just have to have a general understanding of the passage, so just concentrate on listening and let the pencil on the desk.
The speaking section was the worst for me. I actually thought we would have to talk with a real human being. When I read that I would have to talk to a computer, I was pretty surprised. I was baffled for the first minutes and ended up talking gibberish and often had to start over. I had a really bad feeling about this section, but it turned better than expected. So my tip for this section, as weird as this might sound, practice talking to a computer. Just talk with it. About politic topics, about your day, your struggles, just talk. Get comfortable and cozy with an inanimate object, so it won't be as awkward as it was for me. And one last tip, write down a really vague structure for what you're about to say. Prewriting a whole script will make you seem weird and unnatural. Just talk casually.

I can't really give tips on the writing section as this is too broad as a topic to elaborate here. I can't really explain how to write a good essay in general... There are probably tons of well written guides on the internet, make use of it.

So how CAN you learn for the TOEFL? I think you shouldn't learn with the aim to ace the TOEFL, you shoud learn to speak English as dumb as it may sound. Yes, there are a lot of TOEFL study books and a wide variety of methods to improve your score (Don't get me started with Barron's and Kaplan's and whatnot) and they will certainly help improve your score, but I think there are far more efficient and especially more pleasant ways to do so. My four biggest tips:

1. Read English books
Just read some books. They don't have to be "How to kill a mockingbird" or "The great Gatsby" or any of Shakespeare's works. Just read any book. A satire, a comedy, a fantasy book or science fiction. Just reading will greatly improve your understanding of the English language and will automatically help your reading and writing scores. Textbook English is only textbook English after all and nothing will help as much as a good old fashioned book. Try to read books you liked in your mother tongue which are originally from an English author. The originals are often a lot better.

2. Watch English television
Not only CNN or documentaries. Watch goofy shows like "How I met your mother", "Scrubs" or not so goofy shows like "Breaking Bad". It is really enjoyable and the original voices are a lot better most of the times anyways. After starting to watch English shows on a regular basis, my English improved a lot. Your listening improves and you get a better feeling which phrasings are more natural. Compare a textbook "Hello and good evening! My name is Tom. Pleased to meet you. The weather is wonderful today, isn't it?" to a casual "Heeeeyyy, I'm Tom, How you doin?". It will help your tremendously with your English conversations too.

3. Have English conversations
I am fortunate enough to having met a lot of friends in the UK or the US. I message them or talk to them on a daily basis. Just skype with them and talk like friends. In the beginning, you will suck at it (Pardon my French). You will make mistakes and will sound awkward, but just don't care about it, they won't either. Over the time you will feel more comfortable and you will get better day by day until one day, you can speak English casually like you would in your mother tongue. If you don't have foreign friends like me, how about making a deal with a friend. Only speak in English when you're with them. It will be less embarassing because both of you won't be outstanding at first.

4. Write English essays
Yeah... I'm a gigantic hypocrate in this section, because I never do this voluntarily. I would advise you to just write essays. They are bound to get better with practice. I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have an English teacher who forced us to write at least two essays per week. In hindsight, this helped me tremendously. Maybe you have to be that terrible teacher to yourself?

So conclusively I can say that I did pretty much nothing for the TOEFL and was able to score a perfect score (Here's the boasting again...). By reading English books, watching Shows and talking casually, I was more than prepared for this test. And these are all things I love to do. So all I can say is this: Don't go nuts over the test or try to find a definite way to get a great score. Just improve your English, have fun, don't stress yourself too much and you will be fine.

Phew, that took me longer than I expected. I didn't proofread it, so forgive me my typos. Maybe it's a good idea to end this with a Poll. It's a fun things to do after all.

Touché if you made it this far and I wish you the best of luck,
you go5u

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