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Sunday, July 29

How to Get a Perfect Score on the TOEIC





image courtesy of stock.xchng





I finally got a perfect score on the TOEIC. It was my second try. I retook the test exactly a month after my first:







If you still haven’t read my post about my first experience of the test, just click the link below:









If you're taking the TOEIC for the first time or if you're aiming for a good score but not really 990 (the highest), it will be better for you to focus on the tips in my first post.



There will be some more useful tips for you here but, in general, the advice on this post will focus on getting the top score.



It’s a bit like archery (our picture above). After you’ve hit close to the target, you're able to make small adjustments to make your aim sharper and more accurate.






General TOEIC Tips




Listening


Listening in the TOEIC shouldn’t be a passive activity. “Passive” means you're just waiting for the answers to come to you. Sometimes this might happen. But most of the time, this is a bad way to follow if you want to get a good score.



“Active” listening in the TOEIC (in fact in many other tests) is all about keeping your state of readiness high. Anytime the answer in the recording comes, both your ears and your mind are prepared to receive it. This requires a lot of concentration, like what I said on my first post. At the same time, you should consciously and closely follow the exchange -- or monologue -- of information so you don’t miss anything.



Read the questions written on your test booklet in advance, then make an image inside your head of what situation will be asked. Fill in the gaps in the scene or dialogue that you're hearing. Don’t let yourself be left behind by the conversation. Try and keep one step ahead if you can.



The most basic and simplest example of a listening exercise is when you’re watching a movie. You have to know the characters, the setting, the time, their problems, their proposed solutions, their final solutions, the results etc. in order to understand the story. The biggest difference between this and the TOEIC is that the level of focus is much higher in the test. 




Reading


Skimming and scanning are the oldest tricks of the trade when it comes to test reading, including the TOEIC. Although old, they are still timely and true. Test-takers who complain of not having any time to finish the Reading Part are most likely crippled by a wrong habit in reading, one which eats up too much time and attention to details. The TOEIC test was designed with enough time to be spent on each part. But if you always let yourself fall into the temptation of reading more than you need, you will surely find yourself running out of time.









There’s one tip I’d like to call the “In and Out” strategy. Hopefully, this would help to constantly remind you of the need to touch and move on, touch and move on. 



Imagine a team of well-trained professional thieves (thief = only 1). They enter a very secure building, acquire (get) only what they need, then get out of the place as quietly and efficiently as they came. They don’t waste any time to admire the place.







This is what you should also practice yourself doing. For each and every question in the Reading Part.



For the other questions of the Reading that heavily involve grammar, there’s no way to get around them but to study syntax beforehand. This means that if your grammar isn’t enough, unlike with comprehension, you won’t be able to answer the grammar questions well or fast enough.






Advanced TOEIC Tips





If you’re a long-time TOEIC-taker and your target score right now is 990 or close to that, these suggestions might help you.




1.       Review your answers. This piece of advice is further broken down into 2 parts:



1.A. Answer the Reading Part questions as quickly but accurately as you can, so you will have enough time for review. If you’re having a hard time coming up with the answer for one particular item, leave a light mark so you can come back to that once you’ve finished.




WARNING: This strategy will not work unless you’re certain that you will have extra time to come back. So knowing your general pace through previous experience and simulations and budgeting your time properly during the actual test are important. Leaving a question either unanswered or half-answered could be harmful for a test-taker who constantly finds himself short of time at the end of the test. But it can be a valuable strategy for those who are on a higher level.




Skipping many questions is also a bad technique, because this will eat up even more time. So, the total tip is: Answer as many questions as fast and well as you can, and leave the really complicated ones for a well-planned review.




1.B. Review your answers.



Obviously, if you weren’t able to do 1.A, then you won’t be able to do this. But from experience, in both of my tests, I have had enough time to review all my answers in the Reading Part. On my first time, I had 30 minutes left before the end (Unfortunately I made the wrong decision of leaving early and not reviewing. You already read about this on my first post.) On my second time, I reviewed all my answers very closely and still had about 15 minutes left on the clock.



In the end, I believe that review is very important in a test like the TOEIC. Because almost always there are questions whose answers will surprise you, whose answers aren’t what you expect. This is a natural and integral character of the TOEIC. Many answers and choices are designed to seem perfectly natural and correct the first time you think about them, but after deeper thought aren’t really the best answers.




2.       Because this isn’t your first time anymore to take the test, you should spend enough time working on your weak points.



2.A. The first thing you should do is take a good look at the Score Report from your last test and try to interpret what the numbers mean. The Score Report is not something you receive one day then throw out after a glance.



If you look at your Score Report right now, you will see below your actual score the breakdown into individual areas. The heading of this part reads “Abilities Measured.” There’s one for Listening and one for Reading.



Here’s a sample from my own first test. Like I said on my first post, I got a perfect score on the Listening Part, but my Reading was something like this:






You need to learn how to interpret the numbers on your score sheet. The items shown on the sheet are not the same sections on the actual TOEIC test. This means that, although there are 7 parts on the test (4 for Listening and 3 for Reading), you won’t be able to see each part’s score on the report.



You should learn how to interpret your score so you will know which exact parts on the test you need to practice more. Look for keywords on your score sheet. In my case, my weaknesses were: “inferences (assumptions)” and “connect(ing) information.” After knowing this, I was aware that Parts 6 and 7 are my weak points, the biggest being Part 7.



2.B. After knowing what your weaknesses are, concentrate your practice on these but also train for the TOEIC test as a whole.




3.       Do not underestimate any question or item on the test. Like I said, the answers will often surprise you. Although it’s good to use and trust your strong instincts to get you the right answers, at a certain point when you need sharper attention and a higher score, you should also learn to doubt and double-check your initial conviction. If your answer still holds true after scrutiny, then keep your answer.




4.       Make sure you have a good personal system to mark, find, and clean up uncertain answers. A good system will prevent the big risk of you getting confused and all your answers messed up. I’m talking about marking the wrong places and mixing up numbers or choices. This is really common, believe me.



Also, if you develop a system for marking and review, make sure your mark isn’t too light. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to find the exact point you want to check. Vice versa, after reviewing your answer, clean up the area around it. This is why it’s important not to make very deep marks for relatively unsure answers.




5.       One thing I actually did was count all my answers to make sure there are no duplicates (answers in the same column or the same row). This is useful because it’s highly possible for test-takers to mark the right answer on the wrong number.




6.       You don’t need to get all 100% of the answers right to get a perfect score. TOEIC considers a few mistakes on your raw score and when it converts those into the final score, you can still get a perfect score even though you made a couple of mistakes. It depends on what kind of mistakes you made.




So, in the end, do your best and TOEIC might recognize your effort. Similarly, keep on aiming to improve yourself. Never give up and you'll receive the reward to your hard work sooner than you expect.







Hope you learned something! Good Luck on your next test!!

;-)










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Thursday, July 26

Travel and Romance




image courtesy of stock.xchng




Today we’re going to talk about two very common words: “trip” and “date.” This is why the title of my post today is travel and romance.

;-)





Part 1: Travel



Nowadays, travel is the new drug. This is true for people of any nationality or age. Most people have experienced going outside their own country, whether with friends or alone, through a package tour or as a backpacker. The pictures and memories they bring back home are their priceless treasures.



In spite of the popularity of travel, many non-native speakers of English still have some trouble talking about their experiences; especially using the word “trip.”



As you probably already know, a “trip” means a journey or one particular instance of travel.



In fact, these two words -- “trip” and “travel” -- have very similar meanings. But the Nountravel” is Uncountable and means travelling in general. On the other hand, a “trip” is Countable and means one specific experience of travel.



So you can say:



I love travel.


Travel is exciting.


I enjoyed my trip.


My trip to Thailand was fantastic!



But the most common mistake that non-native speakers make with the word “trip” is to use it as a Verb. Maybe because people think about their dynamic experience that’s why they try to use “trip” like that. Or maybe because they think that they can use "trip" like "travel" (the second can become a Verb).



Be careful! When you use the word “trip” as a Verb, you will make a completely different meaning:



I tripped last week.


We want to trip in Thailand.



The two sentences above actually mean:






So you’d better avoid making this mistake. Instead, you can try using the word “trip” this way:



go on + a trip


take + a trip



And if you want to include the name of the destination, just say:



go on a trip + to + Prague, Paris, London etc.


take a trip + to + Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Cambodia etc.



Of course these will work whether you’re talking about a past experience:



My family and I went on a trip to Cairo last year.



Or a future trip that you’re still just planning:



I am going to go on a trip to Hawaii next week.


I am going on a trip to Turkey next week.


I’m going to take a trip to Kenya.


etc.






Part 2: Romance




For the second part of our discussion, we’re going to talk about the word “date.”



As you probably already know, the Noundate” means an appointment to meet another person in a romantic context.



If you have this situation, or if you want to talk about a meeting with your sweetheart or a new, prospective partner, it’s easy to make a sentence. Just say:



Have + a date


Go (out) on + a date



And if you want to add the name of the person that you have a plan with:



Have a date + with + someone


Go (out) on a date + with + someone



As you can see, the word “date” is similar to the word “trip” in this case because they’re both Nouns. And one way to use them is with the phrase “go on.”



You can say:



I had a date with one of the girls in my team last night.


I’m going on a date this evening.


I’ve got a hot date this weekend.



But unlike the word “trip,” “date” can also be used as a Verb, especially when you’re talking about a length of time or a series of dates.



Ex.

We’ve been dating for over a year now.


I dated her back in college.


He only dates younger women.


I haven’t dated in a while.



Lastly, this word can also be used as a Noun to mean the actual person and not the event:



So, who’s your date this evening?








Hope you learned something!

;-)








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Monday, July 23

My, Mine, Myself








Our topic for today is these three words: my, mine and myself.



To differentiate them from one another, first we should discuss the first two.



Both “my” and “mine” are what we call Possessive expressions. This means they are both used to talk about ownership or the state of belonging.



For example,



Opps. Sorry but that’s MY umbrella.


Let me introduce you to MY sister.


That’s your seat and this is MINE.


Your computer’s fast but MINE is faster.





Now that you know they have the same meaning, let’s talk about how to use each of them…





My” is what we call a Possessive Adjective. On the other hand, “Mine” is a Possessive Pronoun.



It’s very important that you remember the different forms for each Pronoun. Take a look at this table:





Pronouns

Possessive Adjectives
Possessive Pronouns
Reflexive Pronouns
I
My
Mine
Myself
He
His
His
Himself
She
Her
Hers
Herself
We
Our
Ours
Ourselves
You
Your
Yours
Yourself/ Yourselves
They
Their
Theirs
Themselves
It
Its
(None)
Itself





Like I said, it’s important that you memorize the exact forms on the table so you don’t mix them up. Because as you will later learn, the word “her” is very different from “hers.” And “our” isn’t really the same as “ours.”



The words in the second column (green-colored) are called Possessive Adjectives for one important reason: They act like Adjectives. This means they always have to be followed by Nouns.



Like this:


Possessive Adjective + Noun


My friend

Her shoes

His wallet

Their class

Our planet

Your hair

Its tail



On the other hand, the words in the third column (blue-colored) are called Possessive Pronouns. They are called this way because they’re also like Pronouns. They can stand all by themselves and we can use them alone.



For example,



Possessive Pronouns (+ Verb)


Mine (is)

Hers (can)

His (might)

Theirs (has)

Ours (brings)

Yours (makes)




Of course the context has to be clear for your idea to be understood. So the complete sentences for each of the phrases above are: 






Your necklace is made of silver. Mine is made of platinum. 


Your iPod can record 500 songs. Hers can record a thousand. 


Her appointment will be postponed. His might be cancelled. 


Our house has a swimming pool. Theirs has an elevator.


Their delivery boy tosses the paper onto their lawn. Ours brings it right to our doorstep. 


My husband makes $ 200, 000 a year. Yours makes half of that. 





Not only that, Possessive Pronouns, like real Pronouns, can also be used as Objects








As you can see from all our examples, the two sets of words (green and blue) are both Possessives and they have the same meaning: ownership. But because they belong to different kinds of Possessives, the way we will use each of them in a sentence would be different.



Please don’t mix them up like this:



My is large. = X


My will go there. = X


Mine bag is heavy. = X



Finally, this is the reason why when we use them together, it’s common to find them like this:



This is my bag. It’s mine. = Ok






Reflection




The word “myself” is different from the other two because it doesn’t talk about possession or ownership.



Rather, “myself” is called a Reflexive Pronoun.



The name “Reflexive” comes from the verbreflect,” which means to send back the same image. Like a mirror.







This is why, if you go back to our table above, all the Reflexive Pronouns (red-colored) have the word “self” or “selves”:



Pronoun

Reflexive
Pronoun
I
Myself
He
Himself
She
Herself
We
Ourselves
You
Yourself/
Yourselves
They
Themselves
It
Itself



This means that when you want to use them, the Subject and the Object of your sentence should be the same. The Doer is also the Receiver of the action.



Ex.


I will introduce myself.

He hurt himself.

She can’t understand herself. (She’s confused.)

We enjoyed ourselves.

They blame themselves.

Do you sometimes talk to yourself?

It recharges itself.







Hope you learned something!

;-)








Related Topic: Myself and By Myself: What's the Difference? 











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