Interesting story – TOEFL and Me
This entry was posted on Saturday, September 15th, 2007 at 5:32 pm by Manjiri Keskar
Let me tell you all a story about me and an exam called TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
Long time ago, I started thinking about an exam when it was a week’s time due. Yes, the exam was TOEFL. I had started thinking about it only when I happened to come across a community of TOEFL takers on a popular networking site.
We Indians have a very bad habit of hyping even the silliest of things. The community made even an exam like TOEFL seem so difficult that I immediately took the decision of buying some preparatory material right away.
Next step: To buy a Kaplan CD from Andheri station for 100 bucks (It’s not that I love piracy, it’s just that my heart tends to think more about the poor people who make a living selling pirated stuff than those who have hoarded millions already.).
Came home. Merrily opened the CD and started taking lessons.
Oh!! All this is so easy.
I thought I was prepared to take the test anytime. So decided to take one of the 3 sample tests just then. Went through the reading comprehensions.
OK. A little scary, but still manageable.
Next section, listening.
A professor was speaking with the speed of light in a language only he could comprehend. The lecture was over before I knew what it was about. ‘I’ll try to cover up in the next sections.’
Next section. Speaking.
Topic: Do you think it’s fair to lie when it’s for a good purpose or do you think its always wrong to lie?
“You have 15 seconds to prepare your speech and 45 seconds to speak.”
Before I could think about where to start, my preparation time got over. Time to speak. “Uhh, umm, I think it is ok to lie sometimes. Because, if it helps to do something good, then why not? If you are lying to protect someone from being hurt, then it is surely not wrong. However, one should not lie to protect oneself and so I thin-“-please get ready for the next lecture.
Fared equally worse in the other lecture questions also.
Finally, writing section.
Aah. I can score here. Some topic was given. Wrote a decent essay.
After all this, the software asked me to rate myself in writing and speaking. After rating myself, my total came to 60/120 in TOEFL.
I have only 6 days left for the exam to prepare. Brain goes numb.
Frantic searching on internet for preparatory material. Prepare a little and give the other two sample tests. NO point of preparing. Me still bad.Finally the D-Day arrives.
Go to the centre. Scheduled time 7.30 AM. Exam starts at 8.They take a picture of me. ‘Smile please’. Am so fu**ing worried and they asking me to smile. Find the PC with my image on it. Sit, pray and start the exam.
The moment I start speaking the female behind me also starts. She is making sure her voice reaches US before the recorded voice does. She disturbed my train of thought with her thunderous voice and screwed my speaking section royally.
Heaven.Go out and relax.Chat with fellow students.10 minutes over.Time to go back.
Many lectures but surprisingly easy.
Easy topic. Finished and had 20 minutes to spare. Got bored and walked out before the time got up.
Overall, it was good. Could expect 100+.
25 DAYS LATER…
One fine day checked my profile on the ETS site. Had secured 113/120…29 in all but speaking.
Silenty cursed the girl who sat behind me during the test and ruined my streak of 29(not only me, ALL humans I know are this greedy)
Moral of the story:
1)Kaplan prepares you for the worst. Which is, in a way good, because you will find the actual exam very easy. Don’t get disillusioned if you don’t fare well in Kaplan tests.
2)Put your headphones on as soon as you start the test. Some people tend to talk too loudly during their speaking sections. Try practicing speaking and writing in a noisy environment. ETS centers are quite noisy.
3) OK, here is a secret trick you can use in TOEFL. If you have finished the section preceding the speaking section, then don’t skip to the next section. If you have some time left in the previous section, stay quiet and listen to what others are speaking about. It is possible that their speaking sections have begun. In this way, you will get a lot of time to prepare your speech and fare much better than others in the speaking section.
4) Try taking as many notes as possible during listening. DO NOT rely only on your memory because the options they give are quite confusing. Don’t write whole sentences, but only the key words.
5) Time is very very important in speaking section. You have very less time to prepare for the speech. So utilize it well
6) Last but not the least, just relax!! TOEFL is a little drilling, but very easy. Cracking it is no big deal if you have decent command over the language. Wish you all loads of luck!!