A Mouse in the House! and TOEFL iBT Writing

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Normally, things around my house are relatively uneventful.  We watch TV, play computer games, surf the Internet–all the normal things that any American family does.  However, tonight things got a little hectic.

While we were watching television, Angela shouted loudly, “There is a mouse!”

“Where is it?” I asked.

“I saw the little furry thing scurry into the closet by the kitchen.  Catch it quick!” Angela yelled, at this point hyperventilating she was so scared.

A lot of thoughts went through my mind: “How do I catch it? Should I throw a blanket over it and smack it with a hammer? Do I poke it with the handle of a broom?  Should I spray it with insecticide?”

Realizing that I was thinking irrationally, I decided to humanely catch it with a small white bucket–somehow corner it and get it to scurry inside.   Therefore, I ran over to the closet and opened the door in an attempt to trap it. Upon opening the door, I saw the mouse take a sharp right turn, dart down the hall, and run into the baby’s room.

“Go get it! If you don’t catch it, I am going to a motel tonight with the baby!” Angela demanded.

Thinking to myself that I had better catch this little creature or it’s going to cost me dearly, I charged into the baby’s bedroom with the bucket in hand, shut the door, and placed a towel in the airspace between the carpet and the bottom of the door.  I wanted to make sure the mouse would be trapped in the bedroom.  After a few minutes of chasing the mouse around the outer perimeters of the room, I finally got it to run into the bucket.  At that point, I quickly ran outside and freed the mouse in my neighbor’s front yard a few houses down. Better their house than mine!

So, what does this have to do with the TOEFL iBT?  Believe it or not, there is a connection.  And here it is: If you decide to directly quote reading passages on the TOEFL iBT, you should make sure you (1) include a signal phrase that introduces the quote and then (2) use direct quotes around the text you use.  If you do not do this, you will get a score of zero so prepare now and do not get smacked on the TOEFL iBT.

How do you learn how to use quotations?  Why not re-read this post and see when and why I used quotations to tell my eventful story of the mouse in the house.

Good luck!

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