Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My TOEFL exam - Jaime Miller

Hi everyone,

Nowadays a lot of people takes TOEFL exam. So did I in 2012. TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Its aim is to test the key abilities of language knowledge. This test focuses on American English. Prospective test takers can sign up for this test on the website. Most American universities require this exam from students whose native language is not English.

The test has two versions: the Paper Based Test (PBT) and the Internet Based Test (IBT). Nowadays, the IBT is widely used. The test taker answers all of the questions at a computer.

There are excellent books and CDs you can use when preparing for this exam. I used the following:

1. The Complete Guide to the TOEFL Test by Bruce Rogers (published by Thomson); I’m going to call it the Thomson book.
2. The Thomson Test CD – There are questions that are very similar to what the test taker will see on the actual exam.
3. The Barron Test CD – practice CD

In my opinion, the Thomson book and CD are really good and useful. I didn’t like the Barron CD. Its exercises are much harder than the real exam (with the exception of the listening part). 

In addition, I’d like to mention Jaime Miller. Her site  is great and gives a lot of useful tips. She also gives lessons via Skype. During my preparation period she wasn’t available, so I couldn’t schedule lessons with her, but we exchanged some emails. I’m very grateful to her as her tips really helped me to take this exam at the required level.

One basic tip that will lead to success on the TOEFL exam is taking notes based on the  information that you've heard. It is essential during the listening, speaking, and writing sections of the test. Jaime can provide help in taking notes. Unfortunately, when I prepared for TOEFL I didn't know this cours, but I will go through this self study program as it can be useful in my job as well. Her other programs (Escape from TOEFL-Hell, Speaking Confidence, and Private lessons) also seem to be great.

If you visit Jamie’s site, you might think that her prices are high. Yes, they are. But if you have to retake the TOEFL exam again and again without Jamie's help, you would actually be paying more money in the long run.

As I mentioned, Jamie wasn’t available for teaching. So instead, on the website italki, I found Tasha who was ready to help me. Unfortunately, as far as I know, she is no longer teaching on italki. Later, I met another teacher from the italki community who also quit teaching. I hope gardeniafly won’t do so soon!

One of the keys for a successful TOEFL exam is taking good notes. In a latest entry I recommend Jamie's excellent Right Notes course.

The TOFEL exam has 4 parts: reading, listening, speaking and writing. There is no cut off level for passing this exam. The maximum score is 120. Universities, and other entities where you can take courses, generally require a minimum level. In my case, the minimum score I had to make was 80. This level wasn’t terribly high for me and I knew I would probably be able to achieve a higher score than that.
This exam is really tiring. It takes about 4 hours total.


In the reading section, there are 3-4 passages and 13-14 questions for each passage. The questions can be classified into different groups. The Thomson book shows these groups. I went through Thomson Test CD.

On my exam, I remember only one passage which was about Egyptian hieroglyphics. I was lucky because, just one day before the exam, I read an entire passage about the Rosetta Stone on the Thomson CD. The Rosetta Stone was mentioned in the exam passage.

During my preparation, I usually reached a score of 24-25, so my result (23) was good enough.


There are 2 conversations and 4 short lectures with 5-6 questions for each part. The questions on the listening section can be classified into different categories as well. In my opinion, the Thomson book is also very good for studying listening. I went through the Thomson and Barron's CDs as well, and there are a lot of similar exercises on Youtube too.

During my preparation, I usually obtained a score of about 26-27. However, in the exam room, I got only a score of 17. I should have gotten a better score, but I made two mistakes: I answered the questions too quickly and, during the exam, another test taker had a technical problem which I was distracted by. Maybe I lost a lot of very important information. In addition, I was sick during the exam and it hit me all at once when I was listening one of the  conversations.

The results of the exam are not shown on the computer immediately after taking it, so afterward the test takers may have certain feelings about their performance. It’s important that if someone has bad feelings after taking the test, he/she must try not to be too upset. Instead, the test taker must concentrate on the next exercises.

I felt bad after taking the listening section, but fortunately test takers get a 10 minute break after this part of the exam.


This is the most terrifying part of the exam: you get a question, you have a short time for preparation (less then a minute), and then you can speak from beep to beep using a voice recorder. In my opinion, it doesn’t test speaking skills at all. It tests the use of the voice recorder which I hate even when speaking in my native language of Hungarian.

I followed Jaime’s advice and I didn’t listen to any Youtube videos related to this topic. These videos are good from a grammatical point of view, but, as Jaime believes, free Youtube videos limit the test-taker's scores. Why? Read this to find out.

I didn’t have time to go through the Thomson book for this section. Instead, I practiced in front of a teacher and used Thomson CD. Most importantly, I didn’t cheat myself by giving myself more time for preparation and answering.

On the exam I had 6 questions, but I don’t remember any of them now. My score of 22 was quite acceptable for my purposes.


If you want an exercise book can be great and enjoyable, the Thomson book is your best bet. I went through the integrated writing exercises of the Thomson book, and, of course, Tasha corrected my essays and gave me some good advice which I tried to follow.

The following helped me tremendously when studying for the integrated writing section:

-First, the test taker must read a short passage within 3 minutes. The passage shows 3 aspects of a topic.
-Then, the test taker must listen to a short lecture on the same topic. The lecture generally mentions the same aspects as the passage, but the professor might debate these aspects.

In 30 minutes, the test taker must summarize, in an essay, what he/she read in the passage and heard in the lecture without giving any personnel opinions or additional personnel knowledge.

I clearly remember the topic that I got which was on the Roman Empire. In the passage I read, there were three aspects as to why the Roman Empire was successful. The professor explained how these facts caused the fall of the Roman Empire. Again, I was lucky since a few days earlier, I had watched a documentary on this topic on the Discovery Channel.

The last section on the exam is the independent writing section. The task is simple: a question is given and the test taker has to answer it in an essay giving his/her opinion.

On the writing section, I got a score of 24 which was the best score I got on an individual section. I think that this is not surprising, because I do like writing both in Hungarian and in English.
I got the result 10 days after the test. My TOEFL profile showed my score. It was 86 and above the required level, so I was very happy.

This entry is reviewed and edited by Gardeniafly again.  She is not searching new students anymore. But I can recommend someone else, or you can visit Italki.

Gardienfly’s comments:
I think that the way in which Attila studied was just about perfect. He used many resources and didn't depend on only one source for his studying. Different people will need different exercises since everyone studies differently. The key is to try various methods of study and find the method that is best for you. Studying with a teacher on italki or some either teaching website is a great way to prepare for the TOEFL exam. Teachers can provide you with tailored help that fits your specific needs, focusing on the sections that are weakest for you.




  1. :) great !!
    it's such a useful topic and it will help people who need to take TOEFL exam . .

  2. Thank you so very much! Your blog is really a big help.

    GRE verbal course | GMAT prep course


  3. I agree with most of your points, because this article gives the light in which we can observe the reality and I take positive information on this great blog. It is very effective data provide me as well as and new experience learn from it. We can use this cell phone detector and cell phone detection to stop this cheating over phone.

  4. The Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL® test) evaluates the proficiency and general understanding of the English Language for people whose first language is not English.

    TOEFL Prep Tips

  5. The Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL® test) evaluates the proficiency and general understanding of the English Language for people whose first language is not English.

    Reading skills for IELTS

  6. Excellent article, I'm studying Toefl Test and I'll use it to speed up my learning.


  7. The test score works as a proof of their language proficiency and knowledge. Finding the Best TOEFL Coaching it self is a task because the objective of TOEFL classes is to give you interactive examples of TOEFL test questions,

    Good Score in TOEFL

  8. NICE BLOG!!! Your blog is very informative for us. Thanks for sharing a nice information.Best TOEFL and Test Preparation Schools

  9. Thanks for information! :)

  10. This is important to remember while you are browsing IELTS or TOEFL preparation course, if you are planning on applying for citizenship or collage and intend to use your results as an entry requirement.

    TOEFL Prep Tips

  11. Thank you so much. Your blog is very useful.

  12. Great article...Thanks for sharing.

  13. Your services are too good but i am looking for IELTS preparation Pakistan.
    Have you any service about IELTS preparation Pakistan

  14. TOEFL is a language test generally taken by those students who want to take admission in any foreign universities. The test score works as a proof of their language proficiency and knowledge.

    Study Tips For The TOEFL Test

  15. GREAT !!! Your blog is very informative for us. Thanks for sharing a nice information.toefl training

  16. Worth reading. Post gains everyone’s attention. Keep writing.nata coaching centres in chennai

  17. This Blog Has Good informating About TOEFL,It is one of the best
    GMAT online classes|.
    It is really interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them.|TOEFL coaching centre.
    TOEFL Coaching Centre In Hyderabad|TOEFL institutes In Hyderabad.TOEFL Exam Syllabus.


  18. Excellent Blog!!! Such an interesting blog with clear vision, this will definitely help for beginner to make them update.

    TOEFL Training in Chennai | TOEFL Centres in Chennai | TOEFL Coaching in Chennai
    | TOEFL Coaching Centres in Chennai | TOEFL Course in Chennai

  19. Wow what a great blog, i really enjoyed reading this, good luck in your work. TOEFL Questions