TOEFL: Accuracy vs Speed


TOEFL assesses the ability of students to speak and understand English by testing their reading, listening, writing and speaking techniques. Speed and accuracy are essential traits recommended for a great score in the test.

Let’s discuss some approaches that will help speed up your rate of comprehension while maintaining the pace to get test tasks done on time in all four areas:

1.     Reading

Build your vocabulary. Strive to learn new words and their meaning during your reading practice. John Healy has a great free list called Study With It – TOEFL 500 here. Use them to construct sentences too. Also, interpret the meaning of words based on the context used by the writer when you get stuck.

Eliminate subvocalization. It’s common for readers to pronounce every word in their minds. Learn about this phenomenon here. It slows down reading speed. The focus to comprehend meaning is also minimal because the brain is focused on correct pronunciation.

Work on your peripheral vision. Tim Ferris has a great video on this here. This approach boosts your reading speed and helps in studying the organization and structure of the text creating a good understanding of the relationship between main ideas and supporting details.

2.     Listening

Note taking is imperative during this section. You will be listening to lengthy audio clips. Write as you listen because there is a lot of information being generated at the same time. It means that you need to work on speed to listen and comprehend to note accurate information on important areas of discussions.  

Taking up online listening classes in TOEFL preparation is also supportive for your accuracy and speed. Tutors focus on different levels of learning allowing them to develop the basic listening skill. It will improve your listening speed and comprehension of the discussions assisting in accurate answering of the questions.

Listening to broadcasts such as television or radio debates and discussions is also a good starting point. Documentaries too are helpful. You focus on the general and fluent conversations with a great understanding.

3.     Speaking

You can improve your speed and accuracy by practicing to speak fluent English. Work on expressing yourself in public confidently. It promotes proper diction and speed. Friends can often correct you on areas that need extra input creating room for growth.

Alertness while reading and listening are essential to express your opinion based on your understanding. Examiners will often look out for accuracy in comprehension. Put your thoughts in an organized way before expressing your answer.

4.     Writing

Notetaking during reading or listening will make it easy to compile a readable document. It is a simple way to attain a well-organized paper. Note and understand the main areas of discussion so that it will be easy and fast to put it down in words.

Read and research extensively on any recent topics of discussions given. It will create a better understanding of the task and help in expressing your opinion regarding the arguments accurately.

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