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Studying TOEIC

Page history last edited by Michael Griffin 12 years, 5 months ago

I know that some of you are interested in studying TOEIC...

(or at least some of you need to take the test)


I am pasting some information that I made for my listening class.

It is a collection of tips that I gave them.


I hope that it is helpful for you.

(It is the note of my speech, so don't be surprised by my horrible grammar and spelling)




Mike’s Lecture about the TOEIC test


  1. Set a goal So, you've decided to take the TOEIC test. Congratulations! The first thing you should do is set a goal. If you are taking the test in order to apply for a job, find out what proficiency level is required. Choose a goal that is achievable. If you aim too high, you will be disappointed. Remember, you can take the test as often as you want if you don't mind paying the fee.
  2. Understand the test

    It is amazing that some people think the exam is sooo important but they don’t take advantage of what they can do.

    Before you start studying for the test, make sure you understand the format of each section. You will be tested on your listening and reading comprehension skills. By doing model or practice tests, you will become very familiar with the TOEIC. The test should become "second nature" to you before you attempt the real thing. Don’t waste your time listening to the instructions---you should know them perfectly already. Either take the time to get an advantage…or relax and breathe.

  3. Make a study plan

    Procrastination is one of the key reasons students fail the TOEIC test. You may book your TOEIC test months in advance. However, the day you decide to take the TOEIC test should be the day you start to study.

    Studying at the same time every day is a great way to improve your score. Write down your study plan and sign it!

  4. Divide study time appropriately

    The TOEIC is divided into seven sections. Each section is worth a certain amount of points. Don't spend too much time studying one section. Many students make the mistake of studying the section that they enjoy the most. This is the section you should spend the least amount of time on.

  5. Build a strong vocabulary

    (the right way)

    Another reason students fail the TOEIC test is that they have a very limited vocabulary. The day you decide to take the TOEIC test you should make yourself a blank dictionary. Use a notebook (an address book works great because it is divided into letters) and keep track of all of the new words you learn along the way. It is not useful to study vocabulary lists. You will only remember words that you have seen in context. For each entry, write the word and use it in a sentence. At the end of each week you should write a short letter or composition using as many of the words as you can.

    This might also be the time to stop using your translation dictionary. Electric dictionaries make things too simple! You will not remember the word if it doesn't take any effort to understand it.

Focus on words from the opera and other high class situations that many young people might not know. Business people have a huge advantage because they already know the words and situations. Young people might be better at listening, but as we know you need to have the background knowledge to listen more effectively.

  1. Isolate your weak points…If TOEIC is your goal.. get a practice book and get to work. You will quickly find out what is hard for you. Practice that until you get it. Ask your teachers here for help.
  2. Learn from your mistakes This is a bit similar to the above point, but you need to make sure that you input all the correct answers/words/phrases/whatever in your head as you study. It is one thing to not know a word—as long as you make it part of your knowledge soon enough. Use practice tests and remember what you couldn’t do well enough and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
  3. Eliminate distracters

    In every TOEIC question, there are at least two distracters (wrong answers that the test writer uses to trick you). It is much easier to choose the correct answer when you have only two to choose from. (The third choice is often impossible and easy to spot.) There are many types of distracters such as, similar sounds, homonyms, repeated words, etc. As you study, make yourself a list of distracters. When you come across them you will be able to eliminate them more easily.

  4. Trust your instincts

    (and develop them first!)

    Sometimes an answer will jump out at you as either correct or incorrect. If you have been studying hard, chances are that your brain is telling you which choice to pick. Don't change your answers after following your instinct. If you do decide to change an answer, make sure that you erase very carefully. A machine will be marking your test. Be sure to use a pencil and fill in your circle choice completely. Bring extra pencils, erasers, and a pencil sharpener!  Be confident. Don’t worry about past choices. Focus on the current ones.

  5. Don't try to translate


    Translating vocabulary and sentences wastes a lot of time. It is very rare that students have extra time during the TOEIC test. If you don't know a word, look at the context of the sentence and the words around it. You will not be allowed to use a dictionary when you take the test. This is true as you study. This is the point Mike was making above.

THINK IN ENGLISH…why not? It might be hard at first, but the benefits are huge. You have 10 weeks of 30 hours of English a week..why not try to think in English as much as possible?

  1. Guess as a last resort

    On test day, if you don't know the answer, and you have eliminated all of the distracters you can, don't leave the space blank. There is a good chance you will not have time to go back to this question. You still have a 25% chance of getting the answer right if you guess. If you are sure that one or two of the answers are incorrect, your guess is even more likely to be correct!

  2. Be aware of time management

    When you are doing practice tests, you should always be aware of the time. Never allow yourself an open ended study session. You will have to learn to work efficiently.

    On test day, you should be especially careful in the Reading section. You will have 75 minutes to complete Parts V, VI and VII. Many students spend too long on section V or VI because they find these the most difficult. Don't spend more than 30 minutes on the first two parts. Part VII will take you at least 40 minutes, and it is worth a lot of points, especially if you find it an easier section.

  3. Listen quickly

    When you are studying for the TOEIC test, do not get in the habit of rewinding the tape. On test day you won't have any control over the speed of the listening section. You will not even have time to think for very long between questions. Make sure that you do not get behind during the real test. If you do not know the answer, take your best guess. Then continue to follow along. Don't look back at questions when you are waiting for another question to start.---train under test conditions!

  4. Practice reading aloud

    Reading out loud will help your listening and reading comprehension skills. In order to comprehend English more quickly, it is important that you understand the rhythm of the language. Read from textbooks, pamphlets, newspapers, and even children's novels. You might want to tape yourself and listen to how you sound.

  5. Use mass media

    One of the best ways to prepare for the TOEIC test is to study real English. Watch television, listen to radio reports, and read newspapers and magazines. Especially newspapers…the business section is fantastic for the kinds of vocab you will see. Pay special attention to ads, letters, weather and traffic reports, coupons, and special announcements. Do this with a friend, and write out questions for each other to answer. This is a great way to practice your wh-questions. It is also a great way to learn common idiomatic expressions. 10 years ago in Korea there was an excuse that there was not enough English. This is not true anymore.

  6. Use free web sites

    to listen to English as well as practice TOEIC. There are loads of sites out there. Again, I would recommend any site that was not made in Korea. Sorry, but it is true.

  7. Manage your stress

    If you are feeling stressed about taking the TOEIC you may be studying too hard or expecting too much of yourself. Like everything else in life, balance is the key. Remind yourself that you will try to do your best. Before the test, take deep breaths and remember that you can always improve your score in a few months time. In between the listening and reading section, take a few deep breaths again to get focused.

  8. Don't cram!

    You should never cram (study extremely hard in a short period of time) the night or even week before the TOEIC test. There is so much to learn when you study the TOEIC. The last week should be for reviewing and practicing rather than learning new things. Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before the test. On the day of the test, have a good meal and relax for a few hours before going to the testing centre. Plan to reward yourself when the test is over!

  9.  Listen to English/Read English for fun

Make it a habit to listen to English every day. Listen actively. If you really want to watch TV…make sure that you are doing it actively. Music is fine too. Get a hold of the lyrics and work through the words. Don’t just hear—listen.

I think that you are better to  find something you are interested in and listen to/read about it in English.

Do not stop listening to English when it is not homework. The point of the homework was to make it a habit for you. 30+ minutes a week at least!

  1. Think of it as a game  and have fun. The test questions were made by people. What makes them so smart? Nothing. You can outsmart them or play their game. You just have to know the tricks



    New TOEIC


    Listening Comprehension Section 1


    Photographs: 20 questions

    Photographs: 10 questions


    Question-Response: 30 questions

    Question-Response: 30 questions

    Only 3 possible answers


    Short Conversations: 30 questions
    (30 conversations, 1 question each)

    Conversations: 30 questions
    (10 conversations, 3 questions each)

    4 possible answers


    Short Talks: 20 questions
    (6-9 talks, 2-4 questions each)

    Short Talks: 30 questions
    (10 talks, 3 questions each)


    How is the new test different?

    Listening section enhancements include four major changes:

    • a decrease in the number of photograph questions in Part 1
    • the use of both recorded and written questions in Part 3 (conversations) and Part 4 (short talks)
    • a shift from individual questions to sets of questions in Part 3 (conversations)
    • the use of different English accents, as spoken in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada and Australia


    PRACTICE: http://www.englishclub.com/esl-exams/ets-toeic-practice.htm


    Mike’s hints:


     1) Pictures


    *Practice looking at pictures from the book very quickly.


    Think  about what nouns you can see in the picture.


    Think about how many people there are. If there is only person what is he/she doing? If there are more than one person try to see if there are any differences between what they are doing.


    If there is no one focus your attention on the center of the page.


    *be careful of words with similiar sounds


    *be careful of different words with the same sound

    ( http://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/homophones.htm )


    *If the sentence is not 100% true is is probably a wrong sentence.. for example if it makes a guess about the picture: She likes icecream.  They are happy. He is on a diet. If the sentence is not a true fact it is probably wrong.

    *dont think about grammar because it should always be correct grammar


    2) Question and Response


    there are mostly only two types of questions.


    Yes/No and                                                                        information


    yes no questions usually start with words like

    do, can, will, are, would, could, is


                                                                                             Usually start with wh  questions


    *be sure to really listen carefully to the first word.. because it will usually tell you what kind of question it is. I think that you should try to answer the question  in your mind before you hear the answers and see if the answers match yours.


    * be careful for questions that sound like yes/no or information but are not. For example:

    Do you know where i put my keys?   >>> information  question  = where did i put my keys

    Could you pass the salt>>>                    please pass the salt.. the   answer   should                                                        be something like sure.. no problem.. here you are


    Its a great day, isnt it?                           would be a yes/no because of the tag question



    *remember that it is not always a question but sometimes a statement that needs an  answer.


    * listen very closely to intonation (rising in voice) if the voice goes up then then the question is a y/n. this is important-even if you dont know any of the words you can get the rigtht answer


    * the answers dont always say y/n exactly.. just the meaning


    *make sure that the subject of the queston matches with the answer

    How are you today?

    B) He is fine


    this is a bad answer because it doesnt match


    3) short conversations.


    Think about places


    You told me that you learn many words.. i think that it is a good idea to start a notebook and add word that you might hear for each place...


    for example start a page for hostpital and think of any words that you could hear in a hospital... add new words as you find them.


    another important thing is to think about jobs (you could make a notebook for these as well)


    so that when you listen to the this section you can listen for key words and think about where and what situation the conversation might be.


    another important thing to think about it what is the relationship between the people



    flight attendent-passenger

    bank clerk-customer







    if you think about this when you listen it will help you understand the listening.



    be sure to read the question BEFORE listening so you know what you are listening for


    *there are two main kinds of questions: general idea and detailed information


    if you listen carefully it will be easier because you can focus your brain and ears of listening for the information that you need.


    4) Short talk


    *Again, READ THE QUESTIONS FIRST when possible


    *also listen carefully in to the introduction which will tell you what kind of talk it will be.

    ex. questions 80 and 81 refer to the following ___________



                                                                       news report



    this will help you know which kind of listening it will be .. give you a slight hint.  And get your brain ready.


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