Build Effective Vocabulary for IELTS and TOEFL

Jane Birkenhead, January 16 2023

Students often ask for a list of essential words to learn for English proficiency exams like IELTS and TOEFL. Getting a long vocabulary list and trying to memorize definitions is not a good learning strategy. It doesn't reflect the way your brain likes to learn things, and so it's rarely

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12 Quick Exercises to Kickstart TOEFL Studying

Jane Birkenhead, January 9 2023

You might be finding it hard to start studying again if you’ve taken a break over the past few weeks. I have gathered 12 quick exercises that have worked for hundreds of students and will definitely help you to get back into studying. None of these exercises use specific TOEFL resources. They are designed to build your language proficiency using...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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