After studying some lessons in an online TOEFL course, it was time for Girish to demonstrate his academic English proficiency as he sat behind the desk staring at the computer monitor. After completing a tutorial and being prompted by the directions on the screen, he started the 80 minute reading section of the TOEFL iBT. He felt nervous, uncomfortable, even irritable. As he began answering the questions, he neglected to pay attention to the time remaining on the computer screen, and, to his horror, he was not able to finish the last reading passage due to a lack of time. Devastated. he knew that his reading score would be low, making it practically impossible for him to reach his goal of 81/120.
Having started with a disastrous performance, he could not stop thinking about the reading section while he was completing the listening, speaking, and writing sections of the exam. All the distractions continued to mount during the exam until he practically collapsed due to anxiety and exhaustion when he got to the writing portion. Therefore, a few weeks after taking the exam, Girish was not eager to open the letter containing his official score for the test had had taken. Sure enough, his worst suspicions were confirmed when he saw his subtotals: Reading – 1/30, Listening – 18/30, Speaking – 20/30, and Writing – 18/30.
Girish, frustrated and needing someone to talk to, he e-mailed his online TOEFL teacher who gave him some advice. He had been given a lemon, said his TOEFL teacher, meaning that he had encountered a difficult obstacle of not being able to pass the exam. But his TOEFL teacher asked him a question which got Girish thinking more deeply about his situation: “How do you make the lemon a lemonade?”
“That is the answer,” thought he. “I need to learn from my mistakes of why I was not able to concentrate during the reading section to make sure I do not make those mistakes again when I re-take the exam.” Furthermore, his TOEFL teacher encouraged Girish to improve his vocabulary, his knowledge of the reading questions types and strategies for answering them, and his reading speed to a minimum of 300 words per minute. By reviewing the lessons and completing the practice exercises in the vocabulary and readings parts of “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” he knew that he would be able to better manage his time on the next TOEFL test.
Once feeling down and distraught, Girish felt more positive and energized, knowing that he could turn around his difficult situation and make his life much better in the future. He also knew that he needed to learn more vocabulary, understand the different reading question types and strategies for answering them, and increase his reading speed to 300 words per minute. He was more motivated than ever to achieve those goals, after which he would tackle the TOEFL exam one last time.
|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.