Alex took an Online TOEFL Course a few months ago and did swell on the speaking and writing sections of the exam with flying-high scores of 26 and 24 points. However, his scores of 19 and 17 on the reading and listening sections were not enough to help him reach his academic goals. Frustrated to no end, Alex e-mailed Michael about his most recent TOEFL scores and specifically wanted advice on how to improve his reading and listening scores.
First of all, since Alex was NOT used to reading from a computer screen but was an avid reader of printed books, Michael recommended that Alex spend about 45 minutes reading academic materials online each day. During that time. Michael instructed Alex to practice taking down notes and then use those notes to make either oral or written summaries of the content. In addition to improving his comprehension for the reading section of the exam, doing these summaries would help Alex to develop his integrated speaking and writing skills and help him get used to reading from a computer screen. Michael also recommended that Alex spend additional time improving his vocabulary fluency by reviewing all 1,700 TOEFL words in his Online TOEFL Course, work on improving his reading speed of Online academic reading texts to at least 300 words per minute, and become more familiar with the TOEFL iBT test-taking strategies. Once Alex had completed these objectives in Michael’s Online TOEFL Course, Michael instructed Alex to buy some reading practice tests directly from ETS so that he could measure his progress.
Second of all, to help Alex improve his listening comprehension proficiency, Michael encouraged Alex to spend time listening to the radio, documentary and news television programs and to complete all 40 listening comprehension practice tests at his Online TOEFL Course. Alex needed to get more used to spoken academic English and to learn how to develop an organized system to note-taking so that he could use his notes to help him answer the questions after listening to casual conversations, academic discussions, and conceptually dense lectures. It would be a long road for Alex to make these improvements, but if he kept at it, he would be able to make progress. The last point of advice Michael gave to Alex was that he purchase some listening practice tests directly from ETS to measure his progress. Alex’s slow but steady improvement would be based on getting his ears used to spoken English and then by having him take dozens of TOEFLesque listening practice tests. After a heck of a lot of practice, Alex eventually would be able to concentrate when listening to academic lectures. And, the more he would be able to concentrate, the better his listening comprehension proficiency would be.
Finally, after 15 weeks of practice, Alex was able to reach his TOEFL goals by improving his reading and listening sections to 22 and 21 points respectively. To put icing on the cake, Alex improved his speaking and writing sections to 27 and 25 points. As you can imagine, Alex was delighted with his results, and for a moment he reflected on how much practice it took him to reach his goal: the long nights watching boring television and news programs, daily reading of online academic databases, and all that time completing those online reading practice tests until he reached a reading speed of 300 words per minute. “Was it worth it?” Alex thought. “You bet it was!”
|This article was written by Michael Buckhoff–co-founder and materials writer for Better TOEFL Scores and The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT, Composition and Linguistics Professor, TOEFL Specialist, ESL Master Instructor, and Placement and Testing Coordinator for California State University, San Bernardino.Follow more posts and videos from Michael at Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.|