TOEFL Reading

TOEFL Reading: Are you Practicing the Right Way?

Jane Birkenhead, November 25 2022

Many students claim that TOEFL reading passages have got more difficult. Students who took the exam even a couple of years ago say that reading passages were easier then. So what's going on? Why do so many students think that TOEFL reading is much harder now? I think it's unlikely that the difficulty should have increased so much. TOEFL is an...

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Grammar and Vocabulary

Improve your TOEFL and IELTS Vocabulary: Learn Parts of Words

Jane Birkenhead, November 3 2022

Academic English contains lots of long complicated words. The TOEFL and IELTS reading sections may contain words that you don't immediately recognize, but you can work out their meanings by learning about these two effective strategies. 1. Understand how words are structured 2. Learn some of the Latin and Greek

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TOEFL Writing

Integrated Essay Verbs

Jane Birkenhead, October 25 2022

Templates can be helpful for integrated writing but you’ve got to know how to use them properly. Specifically, it's important to understand each verb that the template uses for explanations. Verbs that are commonly used in template phrases for explanations are NOT synonyms of each other. They have subtle variances in meaning and if you need an...

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TOEFL Exam Preparation


Jane Birkenhead, October 19 2022

There are many myths associated with the TOEFL exam. Some myths have been repeated so much that people don't even know where they come from anymore. Here are two definitions of myth: A myth is a commonly believed but false idea (Cambridge Dictionary). A myth is something that people wrongly believe to be true (Macmillan

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TOEFL Exam Preparation

Who to Trust for TOEFL Preparation Advice

Jane Birkenhead, October 10 2022

There’s a lot of advice available about how to prepare for the TOEFL exam, and it can be over-whelming. There are hundreds of YouTube channels, groups and posts to wade through and that's before you even consider preparation books and practice tests. You've probably been told many times to be careful about using this advice. But how can you sort...

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TOEFL Speaking

Increase your Vocabulary for TOEFL:  Learn Phrasal Verbs

Jane Birkenhead, October 6 2022

If you want to get an advanced TOEFL speaking score (26+), then you’ve got to have a good command of vocabulary. You need to be able to reach for exactly the right word to immediately explain exactly what you mean. This is NOT the same as learning long lists of synonyms so please don’t do this. It won’t help! Instead, increase your vocabulary...

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Language Skills

TOEFL Preparation: Skills-Building Exercises for Language Proficiency

Jane Birkenhead, September 27 2022

TOEFL is an English language proficiency exam. That means it tests your English language skills by asking you to read, listen, speak and write. Students who have very good language skills will get high scores in the exam. So, it makes sense to keep practicing and improving your language

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Note-Taking: 4 General Strategies

Jane Birkenhead, September 15 2022

A lot of students ask me for advice about note-taking. Note-taking in TOEFL is stressful because you don’t get a second chance if you miss something. But I do think there’s a lot of bad advice being shared, and many popular resources over-complicate it. The first, most important point to remember

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Studying Strategies

Break your Big Goal into Smaller Steps

Jane Birkenhead, August 31 2022

If you’ve been studying for TOEFL or IELTS for a while, and you don’t think you’re making progress, it’s understandable to feel frustrated and confused. Instead of carrying on as usual and practicing past questions over and over again, my advice is: Take a step back and consider your overall goal. Break it down into smaller steps. Then work on...

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Studying Strategies

Use Study Resources for Different Things

Jane Birkenhead, August 25 2022

It's so easy to become bored when you're studying especially when you've been using the same study materials for a while. A great way to keep motivated  is to use study resources for different things. This is something I love recommending because there are hundreds of different things you can

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