What is TOEFL iBT?

TOEFL iBT is an online test used to recognize the English proficiency of an international student (whose mother tongue isn’t English) to apply to a university overseas, particularly US. The TOEFL score required is based on the university you want to apply, but generally they would want at least a 79/120 (search for the university requirements). If you are planning to apply to ivy leagues (or schools with rankings somewhere at the top) they would want to see at least a 100/120.

TOEFL has 4 sections

-Reading
-Listening
-Speaking
-Writing

Which resource should I use for practice?

I used the Official TOEFL Guide from McGraw-Hill for practice, and I would say that it provided sufficient practice, except that the reading section for the real TOEFL was a bit harder than McGraw-Hill’s. But, reading can be improved by daily reading of articles from Forbes, New York Times, Nat Geo, etc. Other than the reading section, the level is just about the same.

You can also try out resources from these companies, but I only used McGraw-Hill so I do not have the reviews for these.
– Longman
-Barron’s
-Cambridge
-Kaplan
-Princeton

Notes on Writing

There will be 2 writing questions.

The first question requires you to compare the audio file you’ve listened (take down notes) and the passage. The points from the audio file and passage can either clash or support . It is your task to simplify and categorize  whatever that you got from both sources. What I inserted below is what I wrote during the practice test, and was marked by my counselor that was in charge of guiding us in TOEFL. (Audio files and passage for the question is not included)

QUESTION 1

Audio file: Argues that ‘Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet’ was painted by Rembrant.

Passage: Argues that ‘Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet’ was not painted by Rembrant

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The speaker argues on the points that the painting, ‘Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet’ was indeed actually painted by Rembrant himself. This calls into the reading, where it was stated that the painting was not painted by Rembrant.

Firstly, the speaker had talked about the fur collar that the woman in the portrait was wearing. It was proven that the fur collar was not a part of the original painting; it was added on the painting 100 years after the painting was complete. The reason behind who ever the person doing this was believed to increase the value of the painting – by portraying a sophisticated aristocrat woman instead. It was revealed that under the added detail of the fur cloth, was a light-colored cloth as her collar, which would clearly resemble a consistent clothing of a person that time, along with the white linen cap. This point argues with the first point of the passage that stated the portrait was not one of Rembrant’s work who was very detailed to clothing, because of the inconsistent clothing of the elderly woman.

In the second point, the speaker related the original light-colored cloth as the elderly woman’s collar to the lighting effect it had on the elderly woman’s face. It was seen that the light colored clothing illuminates light, which causes less shadows on the woman’s face. It seemed more realistic that this was one of Rembrant’s painting, as the combination of light and shadows fit in, without the existence of the fur collar. This point argues with the passage that pointed out that the fur collar the woman was wearing absorbed light, thus supposed to cause more shadow on the woman’s face. The passage believed that it was not Rembrant’s painting, as the master of light and shadows would never have made such an error.

In the final point, the speaker stated a point that proved the passage wrong by stating that the glued wood on the panel was in fact, added after the paining was complete, for the reason believed that it was made to look grander. This was also proved when the piece of wood of the portrait was indeed the same type of wood that Rembrant used in another painting of his, which was a portrait of himself. This argues with the point in the passage that stated that the painting was not considered as Rembrant’s because of the point that Rembrant never glued the pieces of wood on his paintings before.

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Comment: 4/5. Content was good but too many grammar errors

QUESTION 2

The second question requires you to give an opinion on a statement that is given.

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Life is never consistent; be it the environment or the people surrounding us. This implies to the group of friends we cherish in every part of our lives. Whether it is friends from kindergarten, primary school, high school, part-time jobs, or even in my future career, we are bound to be exposed to a new environment in every point of our lives. This is the reason why I disagree with the statement, because I believe it is more important to make new friends, while keeping in touch with my old friends. The reasons I believe new friends are important are,  to increase my network, to widen my perspective and to live a life that is more exciting.

Firstly, I think it is more important to make new friends because we need to increase our network. To become part of a new society means that I would have to rely on these people to engage in further for work, assignments and necessities for the current being. As an example, being an only student from my school in the college I am currently studying in makes it more important to make new friends. This is because, I would want a community I can work well in while completing assignments and tasks. I might not get a comfortable environment if I keep hanging on to my old friends in the past. Being able to communicate easily in a new society is one of the reason I think is important to make new friends.

Next, I believe that I would widen my perspective if I make more friends, compared to when I stick around with my old friends. I can immerse myself to different backgrounds of new people I meet from many places. As an example, during high school, I involved myself in a lot of events involving international students, be it from Thailand or Brazil. By doing this, I was able to learn a lot of cultures, and learn a little of their life and language. I still keep in touch with my international friends as they still introduce their different cultures and lifestyle through social media. I know I would meet a lot of people in the future that would require me to be open minded, and I believe this is important for me. I believe it is more important to make new friends because it widened my perspectives.

On the final point, I love knowing new people, because it makes my life more adventurous. Instead of staying in the same environment, exposing myself to different communities and friends made me able to try different things that I would not be able to do if I stayed in the same flock. I once tried an energy bar that was very often eaten in Brazil, made of preserved bananas. Although I was not that fond of the taste, I now know that there are such things in other parts of the world, and I could share my experience with others, which makes my life more interesting. This is why I believe making new friends is more important, as it adds to the little things in life that makes my life colorful.

In conclusion, I personally do believe that making more friends is important, the reasons are to increase my network, widen my perspective and it makes life more adventurous. This does not mean that I would ignore my old friends. I believe that memories should be treasured, and one of the means of treasuring it is by reminiscing these things, with the old friends that we made the memories before.

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Comment: 4/5. Content was good, but too many grammar errors

Scaled marks for writing section (Q1+Q2) : 24/30

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My writing isn’t that good, but I hope it’ll somewhat give a feel of how it’s like for future TOEFL takers. Good luck!