By the way, the first thing you are supposed to do at the test center is to test your microphone. Since the TOEFL involves listening and speaking, if the headset doesn’t work properly (which is often the case!) it will disrupt your calm and negatively influence your motivation, thus possibly lowering your score. Hence headset check. You are asked to say something for that purpose. Maybe I should refrain from revealing the exact prompt here, but anyways, there are four types of test takers in this case.
- those who repeat the prompt until the beep is heard (which indicates the headset is working normally)
- those who repeat the response (I live in … I live in… I live in…) until the beep
- those who read aloud what the screen says
- those who respond to the prompt on their own
This does not affect your score at all, but I like to respond to the prompt on my own. I belong to Group 4.
Below is what I say (The prompt is always the same, and so should the response be).
I live in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Since it is located in the temperate zone, it has a warm climate. I like this climate partly because I was born and raised in the northern part of the country, where it often snows. One main feature of Tokyo is its function as a world financial center just like New York and London. In the center of the city, we have hundreds of banks and securities firms. It is therefore a very international city where you can see many foreigners. Tokyo is also a cultural center of Japan. We can enjoy Kabuki in the theater just adjacent to the business district.
Just a reminder. I cannot complete this prepared speech. By the time I say New York, I hear the beep and the screen changes. I have never said London … just yet.
Everything has a flipside. Entering the room later than most people would give you an edge, as far as the reading section is concerned, but it also has a disadvantage – some people would even regard it as fatal. By the time you start the Speaking Section, most others would be working on their essays in the Writing Section. Just imagine. The entire room is replete with a mechanical sound of typing on the key board. It’s already a prohibiting area. There should not be any one sound that breaks this thick ice … except your lousy response to the prompts.
Are you sure you can keep responding in a sane manner in such an unbearably tense atmosphere? Only when you are, will this “late-entry” strategy work.
This morning I recommended a book on earth science, which I read on my way to and from work. Earth science is a topic that appears most frequently on the actual TOEFL test. If you are not good at listening comprehension, a little acquisition of this type of knowledge will be a big plus. Well, what I wanted to say is something different. One of my friends and co-workers (teachers), who is also the coauthor of our previous book, has already ordered the book from amazon.com. It was just a matter of 30 minutes or so after I posted the recommendation. See? This is what distinguishes successful learners from unsuccessful learners. Successful learners always do. They are doers. Unsuccessful learners always think. They are thinkers. However, when you think about the book and decide not to read the book, isn’t it just like you didn’t think about the book at all in the first place? You will learn nothing from this act. On the other hand, successful learners can always learn from their deeds. That is partly why the above coworker is also a respectable translator.
First thing first. The most important thing to get successful in your attempt toward the TOEFL test is to set your own goal. If you want to see yourself receiving the highest score you could ever get, then you will be still dreaming of it after all the time, effort, and money you spent on the TOEFL. If you look at the TOEFL itself in the distance, it may be elusive and whatever tips you get will not be able to contribute to a better score. However, if you look at each one of the four sections and get even closer to each question of each section, and how you can get to the right answer or an ideal response, you will realize the necessity to improve some specific abilities about your entire language ability. For that purpose, take an actual test just once. Then buy the official guide and do the first set to go over what questions are to be asked at the test center. Whether you study for yourself or go to a preparatory school, this is a prerequisite for a better score.