Tag Archive | exam

TOEFL experience


After I wrote the previous post I thought I should also publish one having about my TOEFL experience for those who will be taking up their TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language). Well, I think for those of you who can speak english it should be a cake-walk! This test is aimed to test all four parts of a language which are namely reading, writing, speaking and listening.

On the day of the test, make sure you carry your identity proof. Here in India, ONLY passport is considered as a valid ID proof. So do NOT forget to carry it.

As soon as you enter your examination center, you will be required to read, write and sign a confidentiality statement. Once that is done you will have to keep all your belongings including your pen, pencils etc in a locker. After which you will have your photograph taken by a webcam. Probably I wouldn’t recognize myself in that photograph! It came out THAT bad!!! After being handed a few sheets and 2 pencils I was directed to my seat.

My test center wasn’t the best of places. The seating was just not comfortable and too congested. After an attempt to settle down the reading section began and I before I could realize it was done. But yes, I did find I had to make a conscious effort towards managing my time as the passages were very lengthy.

After that came the listening section. Most people think it is very difficult to follow the American accent. I realized it wasn’t true at least when it came to the test as the speed of their speech was moderate and thus easily understandable. But I think for this section it is very important we take notes especially when listening to a lecture on art, psychology, literature etc of which we have no prior knowledge. I remember using 5sides of paper for this section.

Anyway after this there was a break. Walked around a little and was back for the speaking section. This is the one section you should NOT be nervous else you might stammer and stutter which obviously is killer for the speaking section! There are 6 questions in this section. Anyway, easy stuff I am sure everyone can sail through this.

The last section was writing. Just 2 questions and more than enough time even for those who do not have great typing speed. One of the questions is to express your views on a topic while the other is write about a topic after reading a paragraph on it and also listening to a lecture. All of this is easy and I am sure that no one would find this exam challenging IF you consider your english skills average. This cannot be compared with the GRE test which is a nightmare! 😛

Your score’s will be available after 2 weeks and when they say two weeks they mean EXACTLY 2weeks!

For those who will be taking the test I would suggest you go through the sample questions, here is a link to it. Also, try speaking and recording your responses to judge yourself before you go in for the test.

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The GRE Experience


FINALLY I am done with my GRE! What a relief! It has been a journey filled with tension, frustration and anxiety but now when I look back it seems amusing!

Three months of cramming words learning roots, similar words and a little bit of history here and there. Initially I used to despise the idea of mugging up words but a while later it was different. But it is not only the effort that goes in that makes it harder but also the tension of how my scores would be that would make the situation worse. Anxiety is a killer and I realized it very well this time. There would be times when I would be desperate to remember words and I knew it but just couldn’t get it! Thats the time you feel all your effort is down the drain as you can’t recollect when you need to. Thankfully I had a friend who had already been through the same process and helped me out through out!

Slowly but surely I was feeling better about it and FINALLY on the eve of D Day I had to travel for 5hours to get to my test center and No tickets available! Got really jittery and was just thinking of the horrible start I had to the GRE trip! Finally I had to travel in an unreserved compartment which meant standing for hours together in an extreeemeellyyy crowded train! Hmpf! Anyway to compensate for this disaster I ate good food as it always makes me feel better and brings a smile in every situation and this was no different…

Anyway the moment I entered the test center, my passport felt more like my alter ego. I had to keep it with me even when i went to the restroom! 😛 Anyway after I entered I had to sign a confidentiality statement and wait till we were called in to our alloted seats after having our photograph taken in a webcam (which as usual was BAD! ).

I was shaking when I walked in. As i entered there was a loooong weird tutorial containing the instructions for the exam. Though I had read it a million times before I did not have the courage to just dismiss it. I read half of it patiently and then got reeaaally bored and dismissed it.

Okay, now my test begins with the writing section. I think having the writing section in the beginning is a great way to relieve your tension as it not only helps you to just relax but also prepares you mentally for what awaits you.

Writing section I think is one of the sections we can sail through as you just need to think critically and be sure about your writing. Well like they say Analyse, Construct ideas and thoughts, Organize and Pay attention to your language. This is it!

After a 10min break it was time to get back to the REALL stuff! Thankfully I got the quantitative section first. I was gained my confidence after doing the math part of it and before I realized it was over. Managing your time for GRE quantitative is not an issue at all. It matters mainly for the most dreaded section which ofcourse is the VERBAL.

After another 60second break I started with verbal. The 2 pattern of questions I was scared about were Reading Comprehension (RC) and Antonyms. To my surprise all the Antonyms were cake walk but RC was awful! Having 3 RC’s itself is bad and 2 of them were more than 140lines! :-/ :-/ I knew the instant I saw the second RC that I was running out of time and so I chose options that looked “NICE” for the questions related to the second RC. The third thankfully was relatively shorter in length. Many times your actions defy logic in there. Logic says if you do not know the answer dont take a blind guess but eliminate a few options and guess wisely but what you do in there is a different story all together.

Some how was done with the test and it the next question was if I wanted to cancel the scores. Why on earth would I do that??? I cant go through the whole process again and decided to “View Scores” and I was relieved to see that the real score was much better than that I obtained in the Diagnostic Tests. And more than that I was glad that it was OVER…

The last step was choosing the universities based on which state it was in. Then it was THE END of the GRE episode in my life… And I sure was glad it is done! All in the quest of graduation!

For those of you who are yet to take up your GRE, you shouldn’t make the mistakes I made which are:
taking wild guess on certain questions
thinking your LIFE depends on this exam and stressing out yourself

Also that your scores depend a LOT on luck as it is a computer ADAPTIVE test (Assuming you know the difference between a CAT and a computer based test). So keep your cool and hope for the best!

When I was working on this post I realized a friend also has a similar post here is a link to it.

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