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Lectures and Integrated Speaking – Pay Attention!

Hi there!

Welcome back. Now, for speaking, and integrated speaking specifically, you will need to listen to two lectures. This is for both tasks 4 and 6; reading/listening/speaking and listening/speaking.

Now, both these tasks are uniquely different and I’ll talk about each one in more detail separately, but there is a strategy to which you can apply to both.

First off, what should you pay attention to? Well, during the lectures you will be given a lot of information and you will be wanting to take everything down. However, you may not get everything. That’s okay. You don’t need every single detail. What you do need are the following;


Speaking versus Rambling

Hello again and welcome back!

In the speaking section all the tasks require you to speak within a specific time period. For independent speaking that is 45 seconds. For integrated speaking it is 60 seconds. Now, it used to be required; and it is thought that the test taker needs to speak for the entire time. I believe I have even stated this in previous blogs. I have news for you…..that’s no longer the case.

Yes! You no longer need to speak for the entire time allotted for the task and you shouldn’t. What you need to consider is that ETS expects you to give a response that is sufficient to answer the question. This means your response should be developed enough to give a good response.


Speaking – Task 5 – Let's Do Some Problem Solving!


I want to talk about Speaking and specifically listening speaking, the conversation, which is task 5 on the test. Remember the sequence of speaking on the test is as follows;

Task 1 and 2 – Independent Speaking
Task 3 – Reading, Listening Speaking – Conversation
Task 4 – Reading, Listening, Speaking – Lecture
Task 5 – Listening, Speaking – Conversation
Task 6 – Listening, Speaking – Lecture

Now, let's return to task 5. It is a conversation where 2 students or a student and faculty member are talking together. A student will have a problem. The other person will have solutions. This means that your question will always be;


Ace the integrated writing on TOEFL


Hello everyone!

Let’s talk about Integrated Writing. Its 200 words minimum. You have 20 minutes to write it. You have to read a passage and listen to a lecture. It’s a tough one – BUT, if you follow the steps I’m going to lay out for you, you will never need to worry again about this task!

First, there are several rules of thumb to consider.

1. Do not count words, focus on your writing – If you do, you will exceed the limit and that is what I do not want you to do.

2. This is not a true essay – Although you can write them, Integrated Writing does not require an introductory and concluding paragraph.

3. Do NOT add anything to the material – This means you are to stick strickly to the information given to you. Do not add anything that is not mentioned. – This also includes your opinion.

4. Try not to make references – Stick to the topic and try to avoid making direct references to the passage and lecture – Avoid phrases such as “according to the passage”, “the lecturer says”.

Now, it is okay to make these references, but keep them to the barest minimum. If you continually make such references they will be repetitive which will reduce your score. If you must, make the reference once.

NOW! How to handle this task.

1. Use a single sheet of note paper (You can use as much paper during the test as you need)

2. Divide your paper in half lengthwise – 1 side will be reserved for notes of the passage, the other will notes for the lecture.

3. Read the passage and take notes


Yes, it will, but take notes anyway.Just note down the main ideas. Notes from the passage will play an important part later.

4. Listen to the lecture and take notes on the opposite side of the paper.

5 Now you are ready to write!?

No. Now comes a crucial step.

6. Organize your notes – Draw lines between the points to indicate the relationship between them. Which point agrees with the other? Which point disagrees with the other? Draw the lines between the points to show these relationships. You should spend no more than 2 minutes with this step. Ideally, this step should be approximately 1 minute.

7. Now you can write

Start with the first point. You can start either from the reading or the lecture. However you do it, you want to follow that point by point. If you use thepoints from the passage, you’ll start with point one of the passage. You will write one paragraph for each point. Sumerize that point and then discuss the relationship it has with the lecture (or with the reading if you start with the points of the lecture). Make sure you use all the details that are mentioned to explain the relationships.

Once you are finished, start a new paragraph with the next point. Continue this format until you are done. You will generally have 3 points to discuss.

8. Leave yourself some time to proofread and edit your work. You want to correct any errors in punctuation, spelling, grammar and even spacing. If you have just a few minor errors, ETS will generally not reduce your score, but if you have many errors, then you can count on a reduction. Take this time to edit your work. No more than 2 minutes is generally required.

And now, you’re done. Following this step will help keep you organized. By staying organized, you will save time and be able to do a great job. Recently, two of my students have reported that they follow these steps and that they are able to finish the writing in less than 15 minutes. They both attribute their speed to this strategy. So, give this a try with your practice and don’t forget or neglect your practice!

Remember, we here at TCY are committed to your success.



TOEFL Reading: How to handle stress?

TOEFL Reading stress

Hey! Welcome back!

The other day, we talked about reading and how you don’t need to read the entire passage. Well, that should hopefully help you. Remember, give each passage a skim by reading the first paragraph, first sentence of all the other paragraphs and the entire concluding paragraph. Now, while this is a good strategy, I will have students ask me what they can do when they come across a passage that is boring, it’s a subject they don’t like or find difficult. Often, they tell me that they end up reading the entire passage and at times they will read it entirely twice.

So, what can you do if you are faced with such a passage and I can almost guarantee that you will get such a passage? That’s actually a great question and it is something that both myself and my students have been trying to figure out.

First of all, this is a test and you are already stressed because of it. The first thing I suggest is to pay attention to how you feel. When you feel like you are getting frustrated or come across a passage that is boring or difficult is to stop for a moment. At that point, acknowledge how you feel and take one or two deep breaths through your nose and then exhale out of your mouth. This is a good stress reduction technique and a way to ground yourself. While taking that breath, relax and refocus. Focus your intention on completing the passage and this portion of the test.

Another thing you can do is to change your perspective or your frame of mind. Instead of thinking that this is a test, pretend that it is a game. The object of the game is to collect all of the correct answers. Another way is to think of it as a treasure hunt where the answers are the treasure. One nice thing about the questions for reading is that they follow the paragraphs very closely. This you can view as your map to find the treasure.

Now, by changing your frame of mind in the sense I just talked about does not mean you shouldn’t take the reading section or any part of the test lightly. You still need to be very serious. The idea is if you can bring a sense of fun and enjoyment than any stress you are feeling should hopefully be reduced.

Think of it this way. Top athletes are very focused on their sport. They are the top athletics not just because they are good at what they do, but because they enjoy what they do and they have fun doing it. If they didn’t enjoy their sport, they wouldn’t be playing. I’m sure Sachin Tendulkar would agree.

The bottom line is this, when it comes to a difficult situation on the test, such as coming across a passage you find boring or difficult, stop, relax and refocus. If you need to, change your perspective and add a sense of fun to it. It could make all the difference.

If any of you have any further suggestions, I would love to hear them. Please email me with your thoughts, suggestions and comments to martin.v@tcyonline.com. I would love to hear what you think and perhaps I may feature your ideas here.

Did you know that if you are well prepared for the test, your stress levels would be low? Subscribe to any of our convenient subscription plans are get access to all our TOEFL Tests. This will definitely keep your stress at bay.

All the best to you!

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