Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS?

Almost every day an E2Language student will ask us which is easier, TOEFL or IELTS? Well, we think it’s time to address this question in more detail once and for all!

First and foremost, it’s important to let you know that neither of these tests is easier than the other. With that said, people are unique and have different learning and testing styles, so often they will find one test more suited to their skills over the other. To choose the right test for your needs, you must know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you must also know which format (written or computer-based) you are more comfortable with.

I know, I know. You’re sitting there thinking, “Get to the point, Kaia!! IELTS or TOEFL, which is easy?!!” I hear you. Let’s get started!

Which is easier, TOEFL or IELTS
Which is easier, TOEFL or IELTS? Let’s find out…

Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS: Depends Which Test You Need!

Before choosing between TOEFL and IELTS, make sure you are able to answer the following questions:

  1. Are both tests accepted by the institution or immigration authority for the country I wish to enter?
  2. Which is more appropriate for my needs, IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

The answer to the first question is pretty important, since it may turn out that your prospective university, workplace, or federal government only accepts one of these tests. For example, the Canadian government accepts IELTS but not TOEFL for immigration purposes.

The second question may also play an important part in answering the “Which is Easer, TOEFL or IELTS?” question. If you are planning to take an English test for professional purposes only (not immigration or academic purposes), you have the option of taking the IELTS General test.

Most people find the IELTS General to be more practical and relevant to everyday life; for example the reading section contains shorter, more general texts than the IELTS Academic reading section, which focuses more on complex vocabulary and academic concepts. In addition, the first task on the IELTS General writing section asks test-takers to write a formal, semi-formal, or informal letter to someone, while the first IELTS Academic writing task requires test-takers to analyze and describe data.

 Bottom Line: Many people find the IELTS General less intimidating and complex than the IELTS Academic, so if you’re eligible to take IELTS general, you may want to keep this in mind! Out of the three (IELTS General, IELTS Academic or TOEFL), most of our E2Language students would prefer to take the IELTS General if they had the choice!

Which is easier, TOEFL or IELTS
Taking an English test for professional purposes? You should consider the IELTS General!

Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS: Speaking

Okay, time for you to do a little self-evaluation. Do you like speaking English in front of other people, or do you find it terrifying? Do you like speaking into a microphone with no speaking partner, or do you find it unnatural? (If you don’t know the answer to the second question, try recording yourself speaking about a topic non-stop for 2 minutes on your phone or another device to find out!)

If you enjoy engaging in conversations with others (especially strangers!) in English, you may find the IELTS speaking section a better fit than the TOEFL speaking section, in which you must record your answers using a computer and a headset.

The IELTS speaking section is a lot like a first date: your examiner is “getting to know you” and you are telling them all about yourself and your thoughts on various topics. In contrast, TOEFL speaking feels a little bit more like a traditional “test” because there are twice as many task types as IELTS (6 vs. 3) and most of these tasks are related to either summarizing or problem solving, although you must still provide your opinion in most cases.

Bottom Line: If you don’t get nervous speaking English in front of other people and you want to have an experience that’s more like a real conversation, you might find the IELTS speaking test easier than the TOEFL speaking test.

Learn more about the TOEFL Speaking Test on the E2 TOEFL YouTube Channel

Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS: Writing

It’s time to journey back into your own mind again! When it comes to problem solving, are you more of a concrete thinker or an abstract thinker? In other words, do you like to have the facts right in front of you, or do you prefer to piece them together yourself?

If you chose the first option, you’ll probably enjoy the graph/chart/table/diagram you’ll find on IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. This task is all about summarizing and/or describing the available information in your own words, and it is great for analytical thinkers.

The TOEFL integrated writing task delivers information in multiple ways (through a reading passage and a recording) and takes a step further than IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 by asking you to compare and contrast the information provided to you. Successfully identifying and breaking down differences or similarities in opinion takes some strong abstract reasoning skills.

As previously mentioned, the first IELTS General writing task requires you to write a letter in a formal, semi-formal or informal style. If you’re a practical person with lots of experience writing professional and personal emails and other written correspondence, you’ll probably do very well on this task.

Bottom Line: Are you a “details” person? Give those IELTS Academic graphs a try! Are you more of a “big picture” person? Have fun with those information comparisons on the TOEFL!

 Learn about IELTS Writing Task 1 on our E2 IELTS Channel

Okay, I hope you’re not still sitting there in complete frustration, chanting “IELTS OR TOEFL, WHICH IS EASY?” over and over again and wishing somebody would just give you a straight answer. Sorry guys, unfortunately life isn’t that simple most of the time!

You may find one of these tests easier than the other, but remember that your experience is different to your friends, your family, and every random person on an IELTS or TOEFL forum! The key to this question is your understanding of your own skills, shortcomings and needs.

As the wise Aaron Carter once sang in his lyrical masterpiece ‘Do you Remember’: “The answer lies in you”.

Tell us what you think! Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS? 

 

Written by Kaia

TOEFL Listening Tips: Essential Vocabulary and Tips to Practice

Here are my top TOEFL Listening Tips to get you started with the Listening section! 
TOEFL Listening Tips
TOEFL Listening Tips: You should practice each one of these tips using the examples provided. 

TOEFL Listening Tips #1 Take notes

Okay. Obvious I know, but taking notes is an essential piece of this TOEFL listening tips article. Why?

Because few students actually think about how to take notes effectively. Taking notes is a crucial skill for you to develop, and something that will take practice just like any other skill! As you practice, you’ll develop patterns and codes which will really help you to keep track of those longer conversations and lectures!

Here are some pointers for taking notes … 

When in a conversation: 

Don’t try to copy the entire conversation! Develop a system of abbreviations, symbols and capital letters to symbolize frequent topics (for example, as the conversations are university related, I often write ‘P’ for ‘paper’, ‘C’ for class’ and ‘Pf’ for ‘professor’ ).

Try organizing your notes into a table. You could try drawing a line down the middle and when the narrator says ‘listen to a conversation between X and Y’ , you can write ‘X’ and ‘Y’ at the top of each side of the table. Then, as the audio progresses, you can keep each speaker’s main points organized.

Note-taking example:
S Pf
Fin P: doubts..
Q: where Ý res? Check lib sec. 220
😊! More time? Ok…by Fri
Sub. Class/office? Office b/f 5pm

(TOEFL listening tips: You might do something similar as long as it works for you!)

Can you understand my notes? Here I have written some full words, the first syllable of longer words (fin= final res= resources, lib=library, sec=section, b/f=before), used singular letters for common words (P=paper, Q=question) and some symbols (happy face= great! , upward arrow= more).

These are just some examples, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what abbreviations, symbols, or characters you use as long as you understand!

When listening to lectures: 

Try making a flow chart. You can start with a column for the main ideas, and draw arrows to supporting examples, key facts, or contrasting ideas.

Listen for connecting words, so you can follow the organization of the lecture! You don’t have to write down these words, but when you hear them, you know that important information will follow. These words will act as an auditory clue, so pay attention to what comes next.

Examples of what to listen for:

  • Adding information: In addition, for example, furthermore
  • Explaining a result: Therefore, as a result, consequently
  • Comparing & Contrasting: However, in contrast, on the other hand
  • Giving reasons: Because (of), due to, for this reason, since, thanks to
TOEFL Listening Tips
TOEFL Listening Tips: Listen for auditory clues to gauge the speakers statement.

TOEFL Listening Tips #2 Pay attention to Tone and Stress

As you’ve probably noticed from TOEFL Listening files, there are lots of intonation changes in English. Rarely will a speaker have a flat tone throughout an entire sentence, unless they’re bored that is!

Although the test may be a slightly dramatic at times with all the ups and downs, you’ll notice that native speakers actually do this, and it’s an important part of conveying meaning and attitude.

On the TOEFL Listening section, you’ll hear informal conversations between two people, and you’ll often be asked about the speaker’s attitude. To help you answer the question, pay close attention to the speaker’s tone of voice, and which words he/she chooses to emphasize.

Let’s consider an example:

Boy: “How do you like your new social sciences class?”

Girl: “ It’s really great. The teacher is always absent.”

Question: What is the girl’s attitude towards the class?

There are two possibilities here, depending on how the girl says the sentence. If she lengthens the word ‘really’ and has a flat tone throughout the second phrase, she is probably showing sarcasm, and therefore doesn’t like the class.

On the other hand, if she pronounces ‘really great’ and ‘always’ with a high tone, she is showing excitement and she must like the class as the teacher is never there (less work for her!).

Common intonation patterns to listen for:

–Confusion/Uncertainty: multiple pauses/slow speech/fillers ‘Um..well..I guess I could”

–Excitement: high tone ‘That’s great!

–Surprise: rising tone ‘Are you serious?

–Consistent flat tone: boredom/indifference “That’s great

TOEFL Listening Tips #3: Expand your vocabulary

Because the listening involves “real-life” conversations, you can expect lots of phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions, and university-related vocabulary. In order to understand the context of the conversations, you should know words like:

Dean= the head of a college or university faculty or department.

Registrar= an official in a college or university who is responsible for keeping student records.

Scholarships= a grant made to support a student’s education, usually given based on academic or other achievement.

Prerequisite= a course that is required to be completed before entering another course.

Student Loan= a sum of money borrowed from the bank to be used for university tuition and payed back once a student graduates.

Tuition= the amount of money paid for instruction at a college or university.

Transcript= an official record of a student’s grades and courses taken.

Deadline/Due Date=The day by which something should be completed or submitted.

In the conversations and lectures, you will often hear phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions, so you should start learning and practicing them early on.

Some common ones just to get you started may be:

Hand in =submit (an assignment)

Check out =take a book out from the library

Take up (sthng) with (so)= discuss an important issue in detail

Look over= review in detail

Find out= discover

….but there are so many more!  Check out verb lists for TOEFL Phrasal Verbs or on Memrise.com to practice.

Do you want to know what adequate TOEFL preparation time you need? Check out TOEFL Preparation Online.

Follow us on E2 TOEFL for more TOEFL Listening Tip videos!

Watch amazing LIVE CLASSES, like this video from the TOEFL listening Lecture Series: 

Want more TOEFL Listening Tips? Head over to: Free TOEFL Resources & How to Prepare for TOEFL.

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

Written by Meaghan.  

Free TOEFL Resources & How To Prepare for the TOEFL

In this E2Language article we’ve not only shared some of our favourite free TOEFL resources, but we also outline some of Jamal’s top tips for preparing for your exam.  

free TOEFL resources
Preparing for your TOEFL isn’t as daunting as it seems. 

With any English proficiency exam it’s hard to know where to start. Sure, having your hands on the right free TOEFL material is critical but students also need to know what to focus on.

Every section (and even specific tasks) test different skills so it’s important to prepare yourself for each one. Throughout this article I will link helpful webinars, lesson videos, and articles that will provide you with some of the methods and strategies needed for effectively tackling the different parts of the TOEFL.

TOEFL Speaking: Task 1  INDEPENDENT DESCRIPTION

For this task it’s important you practice narrating or ‘describing’ different stories and events. You should try thinking about something personal, possibly the plot of the book you just read or a funny memory, retell these stories to yourself or family members.

For more help on this task and a sample response from E2 TOEFL

Task 1  INDEPENDENT OPINION:

We suggest you begin researching a wide range of topics; choosing one daily. Focus on articles which inspire different opinions. Then decide where you ‘stand’ on the topic. Practice explaining your opinion in 1 minute spoken responses, giving detailed reasons to support your viewpoint.

Want to see what that looks like?

TOEFL Integrated Speaking & Writing

A major skill you’ll need to develop for both these tasks is synthesising information from two separate sources to give both a written or spoken summary.

You should try finding an article and lecture on the same topic. Some examples might include: culture, the environment or history. Then you can discuss (through voice or word) the main points of the two pieces.

Similar to preparation for other sections of the test:

  1. Chose a Topic
  2. Speaking: 1 Minute (summarize)
  3. Writing: Write a summary focusing on the points that were similar or different.

Some more on Integrated Speaking:

TOEFL Reading (Inference) Preparation

TOEFL Reading tests for many skills. One of which is INFERENCE. Students must be able to make inferences about what an author means by something.

As you read through articles highlight or note any words or phrases that are new to you. Try to guess from context what the author means by their choice of words. Then look it up! This will help you improve both your vocabulary and get you comfortable with making inferences.

Want more TOEFL Reading Tips:

TOEFL Reading Section: Expert TOEFL Reading Preparation Tips

And whilst you’re there, check out another TOEFL reading tips article.

We have articles on the E2Language Blog, webinars on the E2 TOEFL YouTube Channel, and more! Make sure to browse all your favourite E2 archives. Make use of the free TOEFL resources we provide.

Did you know? We even offer FREE online TOEFL Writing classes. Sign up for the TOEFL Writing Classes today! Now you plenty of free TOEFL resources to work off!

Join us in the next LIVE Class!

 

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

Written by Olivia. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOEFL Independent Writing Practice: Step by Step

Practice makes perfect they say, and no less is true for the TOEFL exam! However, if you don’t even know where to start, we’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide to TOEFL independent writing practice.

TOEFL Independent Writing Practice
We’ve got you covered! Follow these steps when you approach the TOEFL Independent Writing. 

TOEFL Independent Writing Practice Step #1: Get yourself organized.

Before you have a crack at writing an essay, there are some important things you need to know:

  • The Independent Writing task will be timed. You will have 30 minutes to complete it, so you should practice with the same restriction. At first, this may be difficult, but that’s what practice is for, right?
  • The TOEFL iBT is given on a computer, so make sure you practice typing and not handwriting!
  • Although there is no strict word limit for your essay, you should aim to write more than 300 words. Don’t plan to write too much, or else you might not save yourself enough time to edit your work.

Next, have a look at the TOEFL Independent Writing Rubric.

Let’s aim high, and look at the requirements to get a ‘5’ (the maximum score):

  • Effectively addresses the topic and task
  • Is well organised and developed with clear explanations, examples and details
  • Displays logical progression and coherence
  • Consistently correct use of language, sentence structure, word choice and grammar though may have minor errors

By the way, you can fill out the form below to download a free TOEFL ‘independent writing’ essay sample!


TOEFL Independent Writing Practice Step #2: Analyze the question

Ok, so you have your timer setup, you’ve picked out a question, and you have your word processor open. Now, it’s time to analyze the question. This step is crucial; if you start writing off-topic then you could lose major points!

Once the timer starts, take a minute to figure out: What is the topic and what is the task?

First of all, you’ll need to identify keywords from the question. You might want to take down a few words on your scratch pad, just to remember.

Let’s look at some example questions:

1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? There is nothing that young people can teach older people. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position

2. Some high schools require all students to wear school uniforms. Other high schools permit students to decide what to wear to school. Which of these two school policies do you think is better? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

3. What discovery in the last 100 years has been most beneficial for people in your country? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

4. You have the opportunity to visit a foreign country for two weeks. Which country would you like to visit? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

5. Some people believe that the best way of learning about life is by listening to the advice of family and friends. Other people believe that the best way of learning about life is through personal experience. Compare the advantages of these two different ways of learning about life. Which do you think is preferable? Use specific examples to support your preference.

*The above examples were found in this link

Click to View Question Summary


In (1), you are asked to choose a side (agree or disagree) and support your opinion.

In (2), you are asked to explain a preference between two options.

In (3), you are asked to think about one example and explain why it is the best/ most important.

In (4), you are asked to illustrate a hypothetical situation and explain your choice.

In (5), you are asked to compare two different situations and explain your preference

TOEFL Independent Writing Practice Step # 3 Structure your essay

Once you know what you are being asked to do, you should take another 1-2 minutes to plan the structure of your essay, and brainstorm some examples that you will use to support your ideas.

Some important things to remember about the structure of your essay:

  • Always, always, always have an introduction and conclusion! Your introduction should include some general statement about the topic, a sentence addressing the question, and finally, your thesis statement. This is where you will provide the main point of the essay so that the reader knows what will come next.
  • Your conclusion should include a restatement of your thesis statement from the intro and a summary sentence. Do not introduce any new information in your conclusion!
  • Decide how many body paragraphs you will have, and what you will put in each. As mentioned above, there’s no strict guideline here, but two body paragraphs is usually a safe bet. If you are explaining a preference or explaining why you agree/disagree, you want to think of two major reasons to support your opinion. Explain and provide support for each reason in its own body paragraph. You could also partially agree, and write one paragraph about each side.
  • For a comparison essay (example 5) you’ll want to choose your preference first, then provide a couple reasons why. In each body paragraph, you will explain a reason for your preference while comparing evidence from both situations.

TOEFL Independent Writing Practice Step #4 Write and edit your essay

Now it’s time for the main task: actually writing your essay!

Some things to consider while writing:

  • Do I provide sufficient explanations and examples?
  • Do you use a variety of vocabulary?
  • Do you use a variety of sentence structures?
  • Do you have correct spelling/grammar?

 TOEFL Independent Writing Practice Step #5 Assess your skills

If you are on your own for practice, start by having a look at the TOEFL Independent Writing Rubric and try to assess yourself. Also, have a look at some sample answers and compare to your own writing. Are you using similar vocabulary? Is your essay structured similarly?

Self-assessment is hard though, and you might find you’re not even aware of your own errors. You may want to try typing your answer into a word processor with English enabled to check for basic spelling/grammar errors. Another great tool is the Grammarly app (you can attach it to your browser). It won’t catch all errors, but it’s a start!

You should also consider seeking professional help. Having a native English speaker read and edit your writing may help you to recognize errors you weren’t even aware of. By signing up for E2Language.com, we can assess your writing and give you detailed, personal feedback.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice
Back to the drawing board, don’t be afraid to start with afresh with these steps. Please see the summary of steps below. 

There you have it, TOEFL takers! Five important steps to get started with your own TOEFL Independent Writing practice:

  1. Get yourself organized
  2. Analyze the question
  3. Structure your essay
  4. Write and edit your essay
  5. Assess your skills

Remember to practice lots and practice often, and soon that ‘5’ score won’t seem so far away!

Where did you go wrong on the TOEFL Integrated Writing? Find this useful template for approaching the How to Improve Your TOEFL Integrated Writing 

Is your TOEFL exam fast approaching? Try this reading this article on TOEFL Tips and Tricks

Check out the E2 TOEFL Channel for free tutorial videos posted regularly!

Want to access TOEFL Learning Material: The Best Online TOEFL Study Materials in the one place? Look no further!

Need some TOEFL preparation advice? Study effectively by reading TOEFL Preparation Time: How Long Do I Need? 

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

Written by Meaghan. 

Your One-Stop Guide to TOEFL Speaking Preparation

This article from E2Language provides running examples of TOEFL speaking preparation along with pre-test strategies that will broaden your knowledge and expand your horizons … Seriously! 

TOEFL speaking Preparation
Want to ace your TOEFL speaking prepration? We’re going to break-it down for you ~ TOEFL style. 

Here’s the TOEFL Speaking Preparation low-down

There are six speaking tasks in the TOEFL. Two of these are independent where you speak about given topics.

Four of them are integrated where you’re given information to combine into a spoken summary.

Independent Speaking

The two independent speaking tasks are: Description and Summary.

Description

In the Description, you could be asked to talk about anything from your personal experience. For example:

Describe a teacher who had an influence on you. Or:

Describe a book that you liked to read as a child or something of the sort.

Opinion

In the opinion, you’ll need to give your opinion on a topic and explain why you think that. For example, you might be asked whether you agree or disagree with a statement, like:

All children should play a sport. You will need to support your opinion with reasons.

For the two independent speaking tasks, you’ll have 15 seconds to think about what you want to say and note down any ideas, and you’ll have to speak for 45 seconds into a microphone.

Integrated Speaking

These tasks include either listening, or reading, or both. For all four of these tasks, you’ll have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak into a microphone.

 Summarize opinion

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a conversation related to the text
  • Summarize the opinion of the speakers

Summarize reading and lecture

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a lecture related to the text
  • Summarize the reading and lecture, linking the main ideas

Summarize problem

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a conversation
  • Summarize the problem and solutions discussed
  • State chosen solution and explain why

Summarize lecture

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a lecture
  • Summarize the main ideas
TOEFL speaking TED
Ari Wallach, TED

Pre-Test TOEFL Speaking Preparation Strategies

Firstly, preparing for the independent speaking tasks is easy.

Remember, for task 1 you need to describe something familiar, and for task 2 you need to give an opinion.

So, for task 1, you can prepare by brainstorming a list of familiar topics like:

  • Music (specific types/songs)
  • Books (favorite books/childhood books)
  • Travel experience
  • Important objects/gifts
  • Important life events
  • Important people from history
  • Influential people in your life.

These are just a few examples of possible topics.

Think about personal stories related to these topics and practice narrating these to yourself or your friends and family.

For task 2, you should practice giving your opinion on different topics. Research topics which inspire different opinions. These can be related to things like:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Children
  • Animal rights
  • The environment

Note: These are just some examples and there are plenty more examples out there! 

Read about issues related to these topics and think about where you stand. Make sure you practice giving detailed reasons to support your opinion.

This will help you to form opinions about a variety of topics and build up your fluency and expression in English.

For more targeted TOEFL preparation, each day, choose a random topic from this in the list to research and practice a one-minute response for it.

Integrated Speaking

To prepare for the Integrated Speaking tasks, you need to prepare by building different skills – reading, listening, speaking, summarizing, and integrating, or combining information.

To build these skills, you will need to practice summarizing information from a reading passage.

You should read short texts on a variety of academic topics. National Geographic is a great website that has many different topics such as history, geography, culture and the environment.

Read an article a day, taking notes, and then practice speaking for a minute about what you have read.

TOEFL speaking preparation
You can read magazines of interest and find articles that spark your curiosity.

Also, you will need to practice summarizing information from an audio recording. TED and TED-Ed are great sources of academic lectures.

Listen to a lecture a day to practice note-taking skills. This is extremely important for the integrated speaking tasks. Then, give yourself 30 seconds to prepare a summary.

You can then practice speaking for one minute, summarizing the information in the lecture and focusing on main ideas and their related examples.

Another major skill that you need to develop for the integrated speaking is integrating information to give a spoken summary. So, find an article on a topic and then look for a lecture on the same topic.

Practice your reading and listening note-taking skills. Then use your notes from the reading and lecture to prepare a summary that integrates views from both sources.

Practice talking about the different views presented in each source and how they relate to each other.

As you can see, to build your skills for the TOEFL speaking, you need to read, listen and speak and practice integrating all of these skills.

Jump straight into E2 TOEFL Speaking with the expert TOEFL teacher, Lucy! 

Start planning your TOEFL speaking preparation time by following the link to this TOEFL Preparation blog post!

And make sure you check out our quality TOEFL learning materials too!

You can find our TOEFL preparation course on our website: E2Language.com

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

All the best with your TOEFL Speaking preparation!

Written by Jamal Abilmona

TOEFL Reading Tasks | Common Question Types Answered

Don’t be intimidated by the TOEFL reading tasks! They’re straight forward if you know what you’re doing. 

This article will prepare you for the most common TOEFL reading question types, including Summarizing Information and Make Inferences.

TOEFL reading
TOEFL reading requires comprehension and understanding of what is being tested of you. Build your skills around the common TOEFL reading question types.

Introduction to TOEFL reading

In the TOEFL reading section, you’ll get three to four reading passages, each with 12-14 questions.

They’re extracts from university textbooks or academic articles on a wide range of topics. These will be similar to the types of texts you’d find in college.

Although you don’t need to be familiar with the topics, the more you read during your preparation, the more you will understand.

You’ll have 20 minutes to read each passage, and answer its associated questions. Depending on how many passages you get, the reading section will last between 60-80 minutes.

TOEFL reading question types

There are 10 different question types you might encounter, each requiring a different skill. These are:

  • Summarize Information in a passage
  • Guess vocabulary from context
  • Make Inferences about what the author means
  • Identify a reference
  • Identify a fact
  • Understand rhetorical Purpose – why the writer included particular information
  • Identify a negative fact (a fact that was NOT included in the passage)
  • Insert a word or sentence into the appropriate place in a paragraph
  • Simplify information by identifying the correct paraphrase
  • Complete a table by dragging and dropping sentences

Common TOEFL reading question types

Below are some tips for how you can build specific skills for some of the most common question types. It’s very important to build up these skills.

To do so, you’ll need to read daily, especially university level books and articles covering a wide range of topics related to the arts, humanities, nature or social science.

TOEFL reading
Topical newspaper articles are an excellent way to practice your reading comprehension.
Summarizing Information

This type of question requires you to complete a summary of a reading passage by choosing three out of six sentences provided.

You’ll need to drag and drop the correct three sentences into boxes provided on the screen and identify main ideas (which belong in a summary) from details (which don’t).

To build this skill, read an article a day and write a short summary by paraphrasing important ideas from the article.

Take notice of main ideas – these are general, and details – which are specific. A summary should only include main ideas.

Guess Vocabulary from Context

For this question, a word in the passage will be highlighted. The question asks you which word from a list of four best matches the meaning of the highlighted word. Here, context will help you, and so will a wide vocabulary.

To develop your vocabulary, you need to read. Reading is the best way to see how words are used in context. You don’t have to read complicated books.

The best way is to make reading fun by reading things that interest you: Food, gardening, fashion, celebrity news, economics, science, politics, etc.

As you read, you will discover new words in context. Try to get the meaning of an unknown word by understanding the whole sentence.

Then, look up the word on dictionary.com or on thesaurus.com to see if your guess was correct. This skill will help you with the guess vocabulary from context question.

Also, try to learn a word a day.

Check the English Learner’s Dictionary word of the day for a new word each day with the definition, pronunciation, word form and example sentences.

Make Inferences

Inference is about understanding what the author is trying to say, without actually saying it.

TOEFL reading
Making an inference is liked making an educated guess: you have drawn an idea or conclusion from evidence, reasoning and experience.

You’ll be asked something like “what does the author mean by…”.

With this kind of question, you won’t find the answer directly in the text. It will be implied, so you’ll need to infer the meaning.

To do that, you need to go beyond the text which means using higher-level thinking skills.

A good way to develop this is to do riddles. There are plenty of inference riddles that you can find online that will help you practice making inferences.

Making inferences relies on what it says in the text plus your background knowledge and ability to connect information to draw conclusions.

Another way to build this skill is, as you read, ask yourself questions about the meaning behind what is written and make guesses.

Find connecting points and bring them together to draw a conclusion. Make predictions about the information provided.

Identify a Reference

This question type is all about understanding what a word or words in a sentence refers to.

For example, “I watched Star Wars yesterday. It was a great movie”. Here the word “it” refers to “Star Wars”.

Of course, this type of question will be a bit more challenging in the actual TOEFL reading. So, you need to build up your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure.

As you read different articles, highlight any reference words like it, they, they, which, whose, who, etc. Then ask yourself, what does that word refer to?

To answer that question, you’ll need to identify the subject of the previous sentence. This is an exercise you should keep in mind when doing your daily reading practice.

It will help prepare you for this very common TOEFL reading question.

Identify a Fact
TOEFL reading
Facts are snippets of concrete evidence drawn from your reading.

In the TOEFL reading, you might be asked to find a fact from the passage.

Facts are the supporting information that tell more about the main idea. Facts often tell about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the main idea.

The fact question is based upon information which is actually stated in the passage.  You must find the part of the passage which deals with what is being asked.

The best way to build this skill is to practice reading and answering comprehension questions.

Rhetorical Purpose

This kind of question asks you why the author mentioned something. Authors say things for different purposes.

For example:

  • To persuade the reader of something
  • To describe something
  • To make a suggestion
  • To illustrate a point
  • To prove a theory

Like the inference question, the answer will not be stated in the passage. You will need to infer.

A good way to build this skill in preparation for this type of question, is to read critically. That means, as you read, ask yourself:

  • Why did the author mention that?
  • What was the purpose of including that information?  
Simplify Information

This question type asks you to pick the best paraphrase of a sentence from a passage. You’ll be given four options to choose from.

Paraphrasing is all about expressing the same idea in a simpler way. To build this skill, read an article and pick a paragraph to paraphrase.

Write a couple of sentences using your own words to capture the same idea that the paragraph expresses.  Then read your paraphrase and compare it to the original paragraph.

Keep refining your paraphrasing skills by doing this each time you read an article.

Jump onto Youtube to watch free E2Language TOEFL videos and start learning TOEFL reading methods today! 

Start planning your TOEFL preparation time by following the link to this blog post here!

Follow a list of of link to quality TOEFL learning material right here!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Jamal Abilmona

TOEFL Learning Material | The Best Online TOEFL Study Materials!

If you’ve decided to take the TOEFL iBT, you’ve probably realized by now that a quick Google search will return pages upon pages of TOEFL learning material.

Although this may seem like a good thing, it can actually be overwhelming. I bet you’re probably asking yourself, “where do I even start?

Before you go into pre-TOEFL shock, check out these THREE key steps to finding helpful TOEFL learning material.

PS: You can fill out the form below to download a free TOEFL ‘independent writing’ essay sample!


TOEFL Learning Material
WARNING: Study materials are just within reach!
Step #1

Gather background knowledge about the TOEFL iBT test format

Going into the TOEFL test with no preparation and minimal understanding of the test format is unwise, even for advanced students and native speakers.

To get the best use out of your study time, make sure to invest some time on pre-study research. That is, before even looking at any practice questions, do some investigation into rubrics and question types for each section.

View the Scoring Guide for Writing and Speaking sections.

Also, be realistic about your preparation time. Be sure to give yourself enough time, based on how much time you can commit on a daily basis.

Don’t jump into the test until you feel confident! Take it from me; when I did the TOEFL iBT, I spent about a week brushing up on the test format and practicing and I was still scared silly for the speaking section!

Unfortunately, I lost points in that section because I overestimated my abilities and didn’t take the sufficient time to practice beforehand.

Step #2

Find official TOEFL learning material and TOEFL-like practice exercises.

Yes, I know, you’re already shelling out some big bucks for this test, so do you really need to pay for more practice material?

I’m not going to answer with a definitive “yes, you do!” but, if  you’re unsure of your English level or haven’t taken the TOEFL iBT before, it could be a great investment.

Find these useful resources below:

Preparation Books
TOEFL Learning Material
The TOEFL guides may seem a little heavy at first, but you only need to grasp what’s relevant to your preparation!

There are buckets of TOEFL books out there, so you’ll no doubt have little trouble finding one that suits you. When deciding what book(s) to buy, consider the following:

  1. Is the material up-to-date?
  2. Does the book include full mock tests?
  3. Aside from the practice questions, does the book provide any tips/ strategies for each section?

Some of the Most Popular TOEFL Books on the market:

  • Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test: Amazon
  • The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test (iBT Edition):  Amazon
  • The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test: Amazon 
TOEFL Practice Online

If you already know your stuff when it comes to TOEFL, but just need a few more questions to run through to boost your confidence, try the official mock test or look through some past exams with the Official TOEFL iBT Tests

Speaking Evaluation: Speaking Series or 1:1 Tutorials?

I bet I’m not the only one who gets nervous for the speaking section! While practicing at home ( i.e., running through some mock questions while timing and recording yourself) will help you feel more confident under the pressure of the actual exam, the best thing you can do to improve in the TOEFL speaking section is to get some feedback!

See this recent post for expert advice on tackling the TOEFL speaking test!

ETS offers the “TOEFL iBT Speaking Series” which will give you one full set of speaking tasks (two independent and four integrated), and will simulate the experience of taking the test, only through your own computer.

Though the Speaking Series will give you a projected score, you also need to be able to accurately determine your weaknesses in order to improve. For that, the best resource is live feedback, which we will happily provide through 1:1 tutorials on E2Language!

Check our TOEFL Preparation packages HERE! 

toefl learning material
Yes, E2Language offers live feedback when you take 1:1 tutorials with expert teachers from all over the world!
Step #3

Enhance your overall English skills with non-TOEFL learning materials!

Looking at page upon page of TOEFL Reading passages or listening to endless hours of TOEFL Listening dialogues will be sure to numb your brain, so give yourself a break by using other sources to study.

Adding variety to your study sessions will keep you engaged while still picking up on vocabulary and improving your overall knowledge.

Here are some ideas of resources to use:

Newspapers/Magazines: Think sources such as The New York Times, National Geographic, The Economist, etc.

Documentaries and TED Videos: Look for speakers with American accents!

E2Language Youtube Channel –— Brush up on your grammar and vocabulary with our clear and simple (yet awesome!) videos on E2 Core Skills Channel!

Check out this TOEFL Reading video on E2 TOEFL:

Remember, set realistic goals, use a variety of TOEFL learning material, and study consistently to get the best results!

Make sure you keep reading our blog so you can start planning your TOEFL preparation time too!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Meaghan. 

TOEFL Speaking Test Explained | Independent and Integrated Tasks

Imagine if you’re attempting the TOEFL speaking test with zero preparation! How would you approach each of the speaking tasks? 

Ask yourself: What is being tested of you? What language skills will you likely use? 

TOEFL speaking test
Understanding the TOEFL speaking test requirements will save you a lot of stress on test day!

What are the TOEFL speaking test requirements?

The TOEFL speaking test assesses your ability to speak about familiar topics as well as your ability to verbally summarize information.

The speaking test is divided into two sections: the independent and integrated speaking tasks.

There are six tasks in total.

Independent Speaking Tasks

The first section is independent speaking. It is independent because you will be using your own information to complete these tasks. This section has two tasks.

For both of these, you will be given 15 seconds to prepare and note down ideas. You will then need to speak into a microphone for 45 seconds.

  1. Description Task

The first one asks you to describe something familiar to you. This could be anything from your personal experience like:

Describe a teacher who had an influence on you, or: Describe a place that you like to visit, or: Describe a book that you liked to read as a child.

As you can see, these are all topics that are related to your experience.

  1. Opinion Task

The independent speaking tasks asks you to give your opinion on a topic.

For this task, you will need to say whether you agree or disagree with a statement, like: All children should play a sport.

Or you may be asked to choose a side and explain why. You will need to support your opinion with reasons!

For example: Some people think students should take a gap year before entering the workforce while others think this is a waste of time. What is your opinion? 

TOEFL speaking test
Give your opinion; your view on the topic and explain why take this position. 

Integrated Speaking Tasks

The integrated speaking tasks make up the second part of the speaking test. It is integrated because you will be using information provided to you from reading and listening texts to answer the questions.

There are four tasks in total. For each task, you will be given 30 seconds to prepare and note down ideas. You will then need to speak into a microphone for 60 seconds.

For these tasks, you will have to integrate, or combine, information from a reading passage and listening audio into a summary, or summarize information you hear in a lecture or conversation. You will be able to take notes as you listen.

TOEFL speaking test
Learn a good technique for summarising text and audio!

View the article on TOEFL tips and tricks for developing a good note-taking system here

  1. Summarize Opinion

For this task, you will be given a short reading text. You will have 45 seconds to read it. The text will be related to a campus issue, like student parking, or tuition fees for example.

You will then hear a conversation between two students relating to that topic. In this conversation, one of the students will give an opinion about the issue. You will then need to summarize that opinion and explain why the student has that opinion.

  1. Summarize Reading and Lecture

For this task, you will have 45 seconds to read a short passage about an academic topic. You will then hear a short lecture on the same topic.

You will be asked explain how the examples used in the lecture support or contradict information in the reading passage. It is important to take good notes to complete this task successfully.

  1. Summarize Problem

For this task, you will listen to a conversation that takes place on a university campus. It will be related to some kind of student problem to do with things like accommodation, scheduling, assignments, etc.

The speakers will also mention some possible solutions. You will be asked to summarize the problem discussed by the speakers and state which solution you would recommend and why. You should take notes as you listen.

  1. Summarize Lecture

In the final speaking task, you will hear a lecture on an academic topic. You should take notes of main points and examples from the lecture as you listen. You will then use your notes to summarize the ideas in the lecture.

View the following E2 Core Skills Channel on YouTube for helpful tips on forming complex sentences! 

Start planning your TOEFL preparation time by following the link to this blog post here!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 
Written by Jamal Abilmona. 

TOEFL Listening Test | Answering Different Question Types

The TOEFL listening test is tricky, especially if you’re unsure about what to listen for in the audio recording. 

This article from E2Language will explain the components of the TOEFL listening test and provide samples of the types of questions you may encounter on test day! 

There are two components to the TOEFL listening test:

  1. Conversations
  2. Lectures
TOEFL listening test
Don’t overcomplicate your test preparation. Focus on building your listening skills around the conversation and lecture components of the TOEFL listening test!

Conversations

The conversations you will hear take place on a university campus and relate to student issues. These could be conversations between two students about a recent class, an upcoming assignment, or a change in university policy.

Or, you might hear a conversation between a student and a professor related to a student query.

You might also hear a conversation between a student and the registrar regarding administrative issues like changing courses, applying for a student loans, or asking about student accommodation.

Lectures

The lectures are all related to academic topics. But don’t worry. You don’t need to be familiar with the topics of the lectures. Everything you need to answer the questions will be in the audios. The lectures could be about anything from history, art, psychology, sociology or zoology.

All together there are between 6-9 audios (2-3 conversations and 4-6 lectures). Each audio goes for 3-6 minutes. There are 30 questions in total and the listening section goes for between an hour and an hour and a half.

You will hear the audio, take notes, and after the audio finishes, there will be a series of questions related to what you just heard.

To move from one question to the next, you will click a “next” button. There is no going back once you have answered a question and clicked “next”.

Once you have answered all the questions for one audio, you will hear the next one. You will only hear each audio recording once.

Listen Carefully  

toefl listening test
Get into your groove and relax a little, this will help you to concentrate on your task at hand!

You need to listen out for the following:

  • The purpose or main idea: why a conversation takes place, or what a lecture is mainly about
  • Detail: specific points from a conversation or lecture
  • Function: why a speaker says something, rather than what they said
  • Opinion: what the speaker thinks about a topic or idea
  • Inference: what a speaker means by something he or she said
  • Organization: how a lecture is organized
  • Non-standard format: identify correct or incorrect details by checking boxes in a table or chart.

Helpful Hints 

For each audio recording, you will be able to take notes using a pencil and scratch paper provided. You should listen out for what the speakers say, as well as how or why they say it.

Context vs Content Questions

TOEFL listening

Many of the TOEFL listening questions are related to context rather than content. Content questions are related directly to a point mentioned in the conversation or lecture.

For example, you might hear a student talking to a professor about submitting a late assignment. The professor may say “You can submit your assignment by email next Friday before 2pm”.

A content question might ask: What must the student do by 2 o’clock on Friday?

  1. Send an email
  2. Meet the professor
  3. Hand in an assignment
  4. Attend a lecture

The answer to this question would be C. In this case, you will answer using information directly stated in the audio and you will be able to refer to your notes to find this specific point.

However, a context question relates to how or why a speaker says something and what they mean by it in the context of the lecture or conversation.

For example, a student might say: I found the topic quite interesting, but I just wasn’t able to grasp the theory. The professor replies: Well, it would have helped if you actually came to class.

A context question might be: Why does the professor say “it would have helped if you actually came to class?”

  1. To show his irritation with the student
  2. To explain to the student that everything they need to know is covered in class
  3. To prove that the student he is willing to help
  4. To give the student a second chance

The answer to this question would be A. In this case, the answer is not directly stated. Rather, you would need to consider the context of the conversation and how the phrase was said (tone of voice) to determine the answer.

Another content question might be related to how a lecture is organized. In this case, the lecturer will not clearly state this. You will have to refer to your notes to deduce the answer.

For example, if a professor is explaining a historical era, and mentions certain events chronologically, you will write each event and the year it took place in your notes.

If the question asks: How does the professor organize the lecture?

  1. Thematically
  2. Chronologically
  3. From most important to least important event
  4. From least important to most important event

You will be able to look at your notes and see that each event was mentioned by year. So, the answer in this case would be B.

After some practice on the TOEFL listening test you will be able to tell the difference between context and content questions! 

For TOEFL preparation tips and strategies to get you started, check out the E2Language blog post here!

Learn from my experience as an IELTS teacher by checking out my TOEFL Reading Tips here!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Jamal Abilmona. 

TOEFL Tips and Tricks: Strategies for Test Preparation!

So you recently decided to take the TOEFL ibt test, but don’t know where to start with your studying? This article will outline a few TOEFL tips and strategies to get you started.

By the way, you can fill out the form below to download a free TOEFL ‘independent writing’ essay sample!


TOEFL Tips
Don’t start with the English dictionary. Lets take a look at what materials you can use to prepare with!

TOEFL Tips and Tricks #1

Use a variety of materials to study

The TOEFL ibt is a test of American English, and therefore, you should get accustomed to American English pronunciation, intonation, and also common vocabulary and expressions.

Before the test, try to immerse yourself in English as much as you can, especially through North American media sources. Try to read the newspaper, listen to English radio, and speak to your friends (even about TOEFL tips you’ve learned!) in English.

Make sure you check out our article about planning your TOEFL preparation time as well!

It’s also a great idea to go through as many authentic TOEFL materials as you can (mock questions, the official guide, E2Language practice questions), but you should also look to other English resources for practice.

Remember that the exam will include readings and listenings on a variety of academic topics. Try to incorporate practice with materials such as:

  • Podcasts or videos of university lectures
  • TED videos (these may be harder than the actual TOEFL ibt listening materials, but practicing with TED videos will make the test seem easy!)
  • Documentaries

TOEFL Tips and Tricks #2

Expand your vocabulary

Work with a variety of linkers and conjunctions: In the Speaking and Writing sections, you will be asked to express your opinion on a given topic. In order to do this easily and articulately, practice using a variety of connectors and try to commit some to memory.

Follow the link to practice your conjunctions on the Smart Words website.  

Learn common idioms and phrasal verbs. Speakers of American English frequently use idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs in conversation. As you will probably hear them used in the Speaking section dialogues, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the most common.

Lists of TOEFL idioms and phrasal verbs can be found on the following websites listed below:

Become familiar with “university” vocabulary. A lot of the material in the TOEFL ibt will be related with typical situations of university life. If you are using this exam for entrance to an English-speaking university, then this vocabulary will come in hand anyway!

Follow the link to start using 100 campus vocabulary words to get you started on Vocabulary.com.

TOEFL Tips and Tricks #3

TOEFL Tips
Have you got a blank notepad lying around? Start jotting down some ideas and topics that are of interest to you, then start exploring these topics through popular English media!

Develop a note-taking system

Throughout the TOEFL ibt exam you will be able to take notes. It’s therefore essential that you develop suitable note-taking skills as you study for your exam.

A lot of students don’t consider this while they are studying and then are left confused by their own writing on the day of the exam. Don’t let that happen to you; practice ahead!

Remember that it isn’t necessary to copy down everything. Instead, try to write down a few details (names, titles, places) and then focus on taking note of the relationship between concepts (for example, cause and effect, changes, and transitions). Take note of these concepts with simple symbols such as arrows and shapes.

Look here for some helpful abbreviations to use. It’s fine to use this as a starting point and develop your own system. The important thing is to develop a pattern that works for you, and practice with it consistently so that you understand your notes on test day!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Meaghan M.