What is the first section of the TOEFL?

It’s Sunday today and the TOEFL is now being administered in lots of different test centers by now.  About one hour has passed since most test-takers started the reading section. I think by now they can predict what they will get in two weeks. The reading section is the most important section and it can be a good indicator of what outcome should be expected.

It’s not like I am emphasizing the relative importance of reading in learning English. Instead, I’m talking about the order of the four sections. I would not recommend going to the test center with your iPod on, which most people do for the purpose of “getting themselves used to English.” If you successfully get used to the English language by listening to it for 30 minutes, you should question the validity of what you have done so far. You have been studying for countless minutes thus far, but you are not confident yet. At this point, it would be of little use to try to get used to English just by listening for 30 minutes.

On the other hand, many of the test-takers today (I’m talking about tens of thousands of them world-wide!) must have repeated the first couple of sentences of the first passage in the reading section, totally unaware of what they were reading. After repeating several times, they finally knew that they understood nothing. Whatever they do or however they do it, the sentences on the screen do not make any sense to them.

Why? This is easy to answer. They had not prepared for the test enough. They focused on listening until the last-minute, wrongly convinced that they would make it to the reading passage. Alas! They just could not read a sentence. You have made a lot of preparation until the day before the test day, but on the very test day, your preparation should continue. One thing no one can avoid would be reading. After all, it is the first section and by the time the section is over, most people have lost their motivation.



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