The “STAR” Approach to Writing Admissions Essays



Confounded by that admissions essay? Don’t know where to start? Just remember that you have a story to tell, and this is your chance to shine: be a “STAR!”


S – Situation

T – Task

A – Action

R – Result


It’s all about telling a story. Remember the last dramatic movie you watched? Very likely there was an opening shot to establish what the story was going to be about–the situation. Soon after that, the hero or heroine made an appearance and it became clear exactly what kind of challenge might be confronting him or her in the course of this film–they had a task before them. And then–Action! The heroine made her moves, did her thing, and moved the story forward, until finally the original situation was resolved and there was some sort of closure. In the end, the audience knew the result.

The Situation

This is the set-up of the story, giving TIME, PLACE and CONTEXT. It could be a general setting, but it might also include the broader challenge or conflict that you or your organization faced.

 For example an applicant might write: “Last year, I volunteered to chair a fundraising committee for cancer research at my company, where we were challenged to meet a fundraising goal of $10,000.”

 This answers the question: What was the situation that I (or my team) faced *before* I started taking action? 

The Task 

This is your role in the story. It often takes the form of a GOAL, an OBJECTIVE STATEMENT, or an IMPORTANT DECISION to be resolved. It’s important to highlight your collaboration with others, but remember that for purposes of the essay, you are the star of your own story.

For example: “My main functions were to assign specific jobs to committee members, check on their progress, and help establish and meet deadlines for obtaining donations.”

This answers the question: What specific challenge did I face, given the aforementioned situation? 

The Action 

Here’s the heart of the story: admissions officers want to know how you work in action. Offer the highlights and don’t get bogged down in too much detail. This could be in a team context, but remember to show how your actions made a contribution.

For example: “I motivated the team by having them meet recovering cancer patients. I assigned tasks and checked in regularly, and successfully mediated team disputes. I led the team to visit 20 local businesses and ensured that deadlines were met.” 

This answers the question: What actions did I take to resolve the situation and advance toward my (our) goal? 

The Result

It’s very important to show that there were indeed concrete results and that your actions made a difference. Specific details count here, and you should quantify your results.

For example: “My team convinced 25 businesses and 18 individuals to make donations, directly helping to raise $15,000 for the organization and exceeding our fundraising goal by 50%.”

This answers the question: What was the impact of my actions, and what was the final resolution of the dilemma outlined at the beginning of the story?

If this is ambiguous, muddled or uncertain, then you may want to go back and re-frame the situation or pick another story to tell altogether. On the other hand, a positive outcome and happy ending will make your story more powerful and establish you as its star.




In July 19 2015, the official organizer of the GMAT exam, GMAC, proposed some new changes. This is the second time since last year that GMAC optimizes the examination process, attempting to provide examinees with more comprehensive information to evaluate their performance. In these two years, GMAC has implemented six major changes to the examination:

1. Score preview: The exam preview allows the examinee to take a look at the non-official scores for deciding to keep or cancel the scores. The non-official scores consist four items: integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and the combined score. The examinee will be given two minutes to decide whether to accept the scores. Those who do fail to make a choice within the time limit will have their scores canceled. Although the examinee can again choose to accept the scores within 60 days after the exam was taken place, $100 U.S. dollars will be charged, and the examinee cannot restore the scores after the final decision is made. We recommend you have a preliminary thought about the level of scores that you can accept, so that you won’t feel appalled when asked whether to keep the scores or not.

2. Enhanced score report: The enhanced score report (ESR) is an innovative service. It requires the examinee to purchase a code at a price of $24.95 U.S. dollars on the GMAT official website. Next, activate and log in your account from email you received, and [ Enhanced Score Report ] will be shown as an option next to your test history in your GMAT account. Choose the item you would like to have an enhanced score report. Enter the code to receive a detailed analysis report. The contents are described as followed:

(1) Overall section performance ranking
(2) Sub-section ranking
(3) Time management ranking
(4) Percentage of questions answered correctly
(5) Average response time
(6) Ability to benchmark against other test takers from the past three years
(7) Customized summary report for each section that assesses strengths and weaknesses

3. The new Official Guide is available now: The 2016 Official Guide is a valuable asset to all examinees because it provides 25% of new test questions (213 questions) and the online test service. In addition, it provides 75 Quantitative Review questions and 76 Verbal Review questions. The Official Guide even adds another 45 questions to the SC, which is proved to be the most concerned part by examinees. With the new test questions, you will be familiar with the direction the GMAT is heading.

4. Score cancellation: In the past, a [C] would appear on their score reports for those who canceled their scores. This won’t happen again in the new system, and the [C] for the canceled scores in existing score reports will also be removed. This change will eliminate examinees’ concern with the possibilities of negative influence of the record on school application. Moreover, this leaves the admissions committee no room for unnecessary explanation.

5. Score viewing code: The launch of such a code brings convenience to examinees. In the past, an authentication code is required to view your score, but now you only need to enter your birth date. This change significantly simplifies the current process.

6. Repeat exams: In the past, you can only retake the test after a 31-day time period. The new system allows the examinee to retake the test after 16 days.
These features may seem greatly beneficial to examinees, but be aware of the decision made in the last GMAT Test Prep Summit: Only five times of exams are allowed in a single year for an examinee. We suggest you improve yourself before taking another exam.

by Ms. Xin







by Ellen Smith (Senior TopAdmit editor)

Admissions committees are always on the lookout for confident, capable applicants. One of the best ways to demonstrate these qualities in an essay or personal statement is through the use of the active voice. By using the active voice when sharing personal stories, goals, and future plans, your essay will take on an assertive, confident tone.


Active versus Passive Voice

Simply put, whether a sentence is written in active or passive voice depends on the subject. When the subject of the sentence performs the action, the sentence is written in the active voice. For example, “I led a campaign to end world hunger.” In this sentence, the writer led the campaign. However, when the subject of the sentence receives the action, the sentence is written in the passive voice. For example, “A campaign to end world hunger was my first leadership experience.” The emphasis is on the campaign rather than on the writer’s leadership.

Why should I use the active voice?

Using the active, rather than passive, voice is most common in English writing and speaking. The active voice is generally more straightforward and gives the writer a more confident and assertive tone. It’s especially effective to use the active voice when you are sharing stories from your personal life, explaining your goals, and naming your plans for the future. Below, we’ve included examples that show how using the active voice can make a big difference in conveying confidence.

Sharing personal stories
When giving details about your personal experiences, using the active voice can help you emphasize that you used the experience to learn and grow. Look at the difference between the examples below.

1. ACTIVE: As a young child, I was impressed by my father’s work ethic.
PASSIVE: My father’s work ethic impressed me as a young child.

2. ACTIVE: When I was an undergraduate, I saw a shocking example of social injustice.
PASSIVE: An example of social injustice shocked me when I was an undergraduate.

As you can see, the examples written in the active voice focus on the writer’s experience. These statements set the expectation that we are going to learn more about how these experiences shaped the writer’s goals and motivation. The examples written in the passive voice make less of an impact.

Explaining your goals and future plans
The active voice is also appropriate when explaining your plans for the future. Using the active voice is a subtle way to emphasize that you are taking control of your future and setting goals for yourself. Look at the difference between the examples below.

3. ACTIVE: I plan to start my own business and positively impact the community.
PASSIVE: Starting my own business and positively impacting the community is my plan.

4. ACTIVE: I hope to make connections at my internship site and continue working in the field after graduation.
PASSIVE: Making connections at my internship site and continuing to work in the field after graduation is my hope.

In the examples that use the active voice, the writer appears proactive and confident. When the same sentences are rewritten in the passive voice, the writer appears more tentative and wistful.


While the difference between active and passive voice is a matter of grammar, the impact of using the active voice is a matter of confidence. Particularly when sharing examples of personal experiences, goals, and plans for the future, using the active voice conveys a positive, proactive attitude. For admissions committees looking for the best applicants, a self-assured tone can go a long way.

Obtain a scholarship easily!


8338696212Often the main reasons that you forgo your overseas studies plan is due to the expensive tuition and= fees. Especially in the U.S and UK, where private schools dominate, enrollment in a prestigious school involves even higher costs. Therefore, an important strategy for you to realize your dream of studying abroad will be to use your edge to obtain a scholarship!

Before discussing the scholarship strategy, you should be aware where to find information about scholarship availability or education grants at a college or university. As a matter of fact, the most important source would be the Admission page! Regardless of the different webpage designs or setup of each school, you will basically find such information on the admission page for it is where information is provided regarding the registration, application process and any help you need before applying.

Other key words you may use during research is “financial aid/fund”, which will normally be seen in the application section if such aid/fund is available. You don’t have to worry that very few schools provide scholarships. Let me tell you, America values talents. Therefore financial aid is available at most renowned schools. But please be aware that such financial aids may be provided under different requirements and circumstances, it may not necessarily be the full amount, or it may be in the form of a subsidy for your living costs or tuition. Some will have to be applied together with your application during enrollment, some will be applied after your admission is confirmed. Clear descriptions concerning such matters should be provided on the admissions page. If you are not well informed or have some concerns, remember to contact the person in charge of registration. You should write courteously, and elaborate what you are concerned about. According to my experience, given the time differences, you will get a reply overnight!

If you have checked the in-need-of financial aid option in your application, you may request for financial aid. If the school doesn’t require you to provide additional materials, then you basically don’t need to make any extra preparations, however, it would be a good idea to emphasize in your PS or resume in response to the features of the faculty or department (as described in detail below) about requiring financial aid. If you need to submit other materials, you should consider the following strategy more carefully in order to find out how to show yourself in response to the preference of each program.

If you are applying for an undergraduate program, then you stand a better chance of obtaining a scholarship than a research institute program. Especially some first class universities place a great amount of resources on undergraduate students, so you will have less difficulty in getting financial aid if you are in need. Whereas doctorate programs, which focuses on a single area of studies, where doctorate students are usually able to obtain full scholarships under a good research projects, a research institute on the other hand, normally offers limited chances of scholarship (mostly partial scholarships). The main source of income is the opportunity of working as assistants to improve your abilities while making some money. (Though such income can basically cover most of your expenditures. And detailed terms of scholarship and your responsibilities are stated clearly on the admission page).

Now let us talk about how to best present yourself to persuade the school to invest in you!

A. Write an impressive Personal Statement!

1) Demonstrate a clear structured plan of your life

Like what we talked about PS last time, many people feel that the personal statement is to show yourself to the best of their ability. This is the right approach, but to some extent it is not. Think about how those impressive ads are created, do you just remember their best parts and messages? Focus, completeness, clarity and liveliness are their common features. Therefore, the key part of your job is how to narrate the joys and sorrows, highs and lows of each story and experience vividly. How to describe that you have discovered what you are looking for, your destiny after going through such pains and hardships. Remember, you don’t have to tell everything, the key is to impress with each paragraph written.

2) Focus on your specialty

Don’t overdo it. The most challenging but valuable part of the essay is writing appropriate and engaging content. I mentioned under point number one that you need to impress by showing how special you are. But now I say to stay focused on writing content relevant to your specialty major, which means that you should not highlight only features of your personality blindly. Personality does impress, but it does not contribute to your chances until it perfectly matches the program’s features and requirement. In a perfect PS, you have to make the adcom committee feel your strong motivation, have them moved by your passion and your story, and have them convinced that you are fully prepared to complete your studies under that specialization.

B. Extra-curricular practices and work experiences

Famous schools in the U.S. value the quality of their students not only in terms of academic performance but also their expectations of a well-balanced personal development. As mentioned previously about higher probability for scholarships in a research institute, more chances are given to working assistants. Therefore, it is especially important to prove that you can implement into practice the knowledge you have learned.

Successful applicants for good universities or challenging programs must be very strong academically. However, solid work experiences and extra-curricular activities will help you make a difference. Meanwhile, detailed, specific and impressive descriptions of your growth out of those experiences will greatly increase your chances to win a scholarship

C. Maintain contact with professors and the school

At the research institute each person has his or her mentor professor. For many projects, whether or not you can get a scholarship is at the discretion of the professor. On the official website for the program application, you can see who your future mentor professor is and the area he or she is specialized in. If you are really passionate and ambitious about the program, you are recommended to spend some time reading the works of your mentor and express your enthusiasm by writing and email and discussing with him or her what you are interested in.

As you demonstrate your wisdom, humor and passion in your communications with the professor, and the professor comes to understand who you are and gets along with you, you surely have a much bigger chance of winning a scholarship.

D. Avoid hot in-demand programs

If each specialty provides the same number of people with scholarships, you have a better chance to win if there are fewer applicants under your program. But never choose a less popular program that is neither in your interest nor to your liking just because of the chance for a scholarship. I just want to tell you that the current hot programs will not necessarily mean a hot career in the future. Why not choose a less popular specialty if you like it? Perhaps it will be in-demand in ten years. Find the main theme of your life, choose what you love most, and your passion will drive you through the end. In case you don’t have any specific preferences, then consider your financial strength, area of studies and interests, and you may find some less popular programs which offer scholarships as a good choice.

Of course, there is no 100% guarantee that you will win what you are striving for, to some extent luck plays a part. Nonetheless, make sure you stand a higher chance by preparing yourself better when pursuing studies overseas. As it is evidenced by the law of attraction, when you are fully determined, you win support from all! I wish you good luck in your entry into a first class school!

More Offer Letters! Wow!


There was an overwhelming feedback, so we wanted to share again the list of schools that TopAdmit clients gained admission to. Again, thank you so much for sharing this great news with us!!! TopAdmit team and editors will work even harder this season so that all our clients have great chances of receiving offer letters from their chosen schools the coming season.Best of luck to all! 



TopAdmit wants to congratulate everyone who received successful admission to their dream schools! This is really a great feat. We also sincerely thank clients from all around the world who shared their stories and wrote us amazing feedback. It was really our pleasure, and of our editors to hear such awesome news from you!  Have you received any offer from your dream school? Please share with us! 

Conquer TOEFL by yourself! Part IV


[[[Speaking Section]]]

speaking-girlGenerally speaking, students from Asian countries tend to score poorly on this section. However, as I see it, this does not mean they lack ability; they simply do not know how to express themselves in a clear and logical manner.

First let me explain a little about how the TOEFL is graded. Scores for each task fit into one of four groups: good, fair, limited, or weak. Each answer is scored by one primary examiner, with three other examiners listening and observing to prevent any inappropriate scoring practices.


1. Complete organized responses

When faced with the exam topic, always remember what they are asking you! (Don’t ramble or get off topic.) As long as you answer the question, it doesn’t matter if your answer is short or not very interesting. Use connecting words like ‘but’, ‘because’, and ‘therefore’ to help you express the logic of your point. Doing so usually results in a score of fair or higher. (Don’t worry. You will not lose points because of your accent.)

2. Clear and concise

My advice is that since you have only 30 seconds to compose your answer after hearing the question, use this time to calmly outline your response. Your first sentence must contain your main point, after that list your supporting points, then end with your conclusion. Doing this will help you avoid feeling nervous and help the examiner understand the entire structure of your response. If you can accomplish that, you should have no problem getting at least a fair.


The speaking section is divided into two main parts: the independent task and the integrated task.

The independent task is relatively easy. It mainly involves discussing topics you are familiar with and giving simple answers to the questions. For example, you may have to talk about your favorite book or movie. Try making a chart with this kind of basic information. At least if you have thought about it beforehand you won’t feel nervous when you answer the questions. If you also remember to give a clear and logical answer with a complete structure, stick to the point, use an outline and connecting words, and end with a conclusion like we talked about earlier; you will have an excellent response to the topic.

928-282-7949In the integrated task you might encounter topics involving campus life and academic courses. This task is called an integrated task because, unlike the task before which only required you to listen and give a simple response, this task may require you to listen to two people speaking or you may have to listen to a speech and read a short article, then give a summary or an opinion based on what you understood.

1. It is important to understand the main idea (First consider the big picture, then the details)

Just like I said about the listening section, being able to take notes is very important! Refer to the part on the listening section for more advice on taking notes as I won’t repeat it here. The topic may require you to summarize the content of the dialog. Once you have understood the main idea, do your best to listen carefully for details! These will help you with your response. Also, a good principle to follow is that all the exam topics will follow the basic pattern of ‘encounter a problem > find a solution’.

If you cannot grasp both the main idea and the details at the same time, the TOEFL grading rubric makes understanding the big picture more important. This is because if you cannot get a hold of the main information that you need to convey, the examiner will not be able to listen seriously as you relate details. The examiner may think you have completely misunderstood the topic. (So always be sure to understand the key points of the main idea.)

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So when you’re taking notes, grasp the main point of the thesis statement, then in outline form find and list the supporting ideas (it doesn’t matter if you don’t manage to write down all the supporting ideas), and finally add a concluding sentence at the end. If you can do that you should have no trouble scoring at least a fair.

2. Figure out whether you must summarize or present your own opinion.

During the course of the TOEFL, if the topic clearly asks you to summarize then you must not add your own ideas and opinions. It is important to be careful of this, because the examiner may believe you have not even understood the question correctly, and that’s a serious mistake.

On the other hand, when you come to the part where you must present your opinion, if the topic is something you are familiar with you are best off simply responding to each point one by one. If you are not familiar with the topic, try to express an opinion on the main point. You may also encounter topics which offer multiple solutions. For these you have to choose one solution and explain to the examiner why you chose it.

3. Don’t be a perfectionist!

Kids fspeak-uprom Asian countries all have one very cute characteristic; we care a lot about the impression we make! We’re afraid of asking the wrong question or saying the wrong thing, and as a result we don’t dare express our opinions without first rehearsing them a hundred times in our minds to make sure there is nothing wrong with them. But, my dears, this is an English proficiency test, not a lecture.

Your first answer or idea may not be the best one, but don’t get caught up in trying to make it perfect. As long as you have a response with supporting points and you can clearly explain the reasons for your points, the examiner will believe that you understood. As long as your response is logical the examiner will not take away points just because your argument is weak! In the end you will realize that because there really is very little time for preparation, it is unlikely that anyone will come up with “the perfect answer.” But don’t get discouraged! There may be no perfect answer but you can still perfectly control your time and master speaking with substance. That’s just a different kind of perfection.

4. Remember these basic guidelines.

I have to say it again because it’s important! Control your pace as you answer the questions, get a hold of the overall outline of what you’re going to say, and it won’t matter if the middle is a bit scattered because your overall response will still have structure.

My advice is to arrange your points in an outline, but there are many ways to link your points together. Find the way you’re most familiar or comfortable with. You could number your points or use adverbs like ‘firstly’, ‘afterwards’, and ‘eventually’ to put your points in order. What’s important is that it be the way you are used to doing it so it comes naturally and you won’t feel nervous when speaking.

Once you have mastered these few guidelines, you really shouldn’t be that worried! Speaking English isn’t as hard as you imagine. Do your best and rely on yourself to CRUSH the TOEFL!

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[LISTENING (Part 2)]

This time I will teach you how to go about everyday practice if you do not attend cram school.

1. Everyday acuity and focus in listening comprehension 

Think about the time we have spent studying English in the past. We have probably all attended English classes since junior high school or even elementary school! If every word is disassembled or written out, most people would surely understand their meaning; then why is it that the sound  of spoken words often makes our thoughts wander, rendering us unable to comprehend?

When our ears are not accustomed to hearing certain words, we will not actively identify these words the first time we hear them. I suggest that you listen to some 6174512880videos that are short but require a high degree of focus, such as TED Talks, which cover different specific fields, to try to identify those words that you already know. Trust me, the parts you do not understand will definitely not exceed 50% of the entire talk and for those of you who possess a solid foundation, perhaps only a few vocabulary words will present difficulty. Your brain has the knowledge, you just need to let your ears adapt, because otherwise you will be stuck in a situation of no comprehension ability.

A simple example is the iPhone function Siri; there is a multitude of built-in Siri responses in an iPhone—Siri can even search relevant information on the Internet—but when Siri hears you speak, she doesn’t necessarily comprehend what is being said and is thus unable to respond accurately. This doesn’t mean that Siri cannot solve our problem, only that she does not know what we are expressing and is unable to produce the appropriate response as a consequence. Siri’s database is analogous to our brain; we actually understand a lot but the voice recognition system is just like the ears, it is not necessarily able to perfectly identify the meaning that each sound represented, and thus it fails to clearly grasp the meaning. Therefore, this type of practice is increasing the acuity of our own voice recognition system! At the same time, you can choose fields that are of interest to you to keep up your motivation and enthusiasm to practice every day.

2. Ability to take notes and see the big picture 

216-415-2110In the listening comprehension test, you will be given a piece of paper to write down the things you hear. This will not be difficult for those who usually take notes in their professors’ lectures, however, you should remember that the time to take notes will be limited. Therefore, you should organize the way you are accustomed to taking notes and the abbreviations you know, as this can greatly increase your note-taking speed! (e.g., tomorrow – tmrw; message – msg.. . etc.)

So what does seeing the big picture mean? It means extracting the overall summary; when you have finished listening, can you point out the main important points? I trust that everyone could easily grasp these tips and now you need to acquire this ability yourself! I suggest that you practice by using your notes to retell the content of the video you just listened to, be it short or long. When you can state the content clearly, this is an indication that you have understood. (This is somewhat similar to the speaking practice, which will be mentioned later on).

What if it’s really too hard and I can’t see the big picture? Don’t worry if what you don’t understand in the TOEFL listening comprehension test are the difficult terminologies (here, reiterating again the importance of improving your acuity in listening comprehension!); don’t let that terminology scare you! Most test questions will include times, places, or other significant information, and these words you will certainly know! So, keep up with the rhythm and be sure to write down information that has “content”! Otherwise, you will easily forget it.

3. Interactive and in-depth critical thinking

Do you know how to be flexible? You cannot always be in a state of tension, or you will slack; conversely, a lack of stimulation will gradually make you rust.

Many people have asked me, isn’t turning on CNN or tuning in English-speaking radio programs enough to practice my listening skills? I once visited the home of my graduate school senior, whose television was always turned on CNN. As he was sweeping the floor, I heard a news report about Iraq and asked for his thoughts. It turned out that he actually wasn’t listening very carefully and I had to wait a while for him to finish listening before he could discuss the matter with me.

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This is the mistake that most people often make; if you choose news or other information-dense material, please focus, or you will get nothing. This type of in-depth listening exercise is necessary because you need to reflect at the same time as you listen; if you can understand the speaker’s perspective as well as reflect and provide different views, this means that you really possess in-depth listening skills! However, like I said, very deep contents can easily make you feel fatigued and you will not be able to keep practicing for a long time. Therefore, you can combine these exercises with light and funny series such as 2 Broke Girls or music that you enjoy to improve your acuity for everyday language!

If you have friends near you who are relatively good at speaking, or if you have foreign friends (there will be many exchange students at every university), both everyday chatting and discussions on particular subjects (one deep and one shallow) will help you improve substantially! After all, this is just like muscle training in fitness, simply doing intensive training will not produce great results and neither will excessively light training; instead, the two must be combined.


4. Familiarize yourself with the question type and catch the errors

I think I am already familiar with the test questions and I am bound to succeed! When you practice using TPO you will feel like you know which parts of the test topics that the questions will be selected from and you will naturally pay special attention to those parts. However, you may also encounter blind spots and be unable to identify the problem.

When you finish the listening comprehension exercises and revise the results and look at what information you missed, here are a couple of reasons of why you might not have initially been able to answer the questions correctly.

A) You didn’t see the big picture: If the question you were unable to answer was a conceptual question, like the main meaning or conclusion of the speech, you may need to improve your summarization skills and your ability to see the big picture. After you have finished listening to an English lecture or a spoken passage in a video, remember to force yourself to summarize it and retell the main contents to yourself. This will help you acquire the skill of organizing the main points.

B) You didn’t memorize a particular detail: A speech will typically contain numerous details, and although you may remember them all at first you may soon discover that you can’t remember everything, and you may even miss the very detail that is asked for in the question. As I mentioned previously, use the practice questions to get the hang of it; people, events, times, places, things as well as “what,” “where,” “when,” “how,” reason and cause, are details that will help you catch the meaning and they are also the most frequent test questions.

C) You misunderstood the question or the speaker’s meaning: When you listen, you may think that you remember your notes clearly and also understood the question, so why did you still get it wrong? Most of the people I have met failed to hear co-articulated words that convey the meaning “not” (e.g. can’t/can) or were unsure of the meaning of transition words (e.g. yet, nonetheless, unless, etc.). Identifying the words or semantics that you are unfamiliar with or that you find unclear will enable you to resolve them easily next time you come across them!

If you put in regular effort and master the techniques for answering questions, your listening comprehension performance will become better and better! I hope that none of you will be afraid of listening comprehension anymore, everybody do your best!


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TOEFL Deciphered

TOEFL is divided into four major parts: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Because of the education system and the environment in Asia, Asian kids usually score relatively higher in reading, but have a disadvantage in listening and writing. Therefore, finding your own strength to complement the weaknesses is critical for this type of tests.

Mere imagination is useless, if you are not sure what is your strength (in fact, I think most people only have a vague concept, but is unclear about what their strengths are), then I suggest that you take a TPO simulation exam. Use the actual exam time to calculate the range of your abilities as well as analyze your strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can make better use of your time to improve the score you need in a short period.


Because reading is what most people do best, please be reminded that unless your English reading speed is fast, do not read every word from start to finish. Read the questionsreading
first, and think about what the questions focuses on to increase reading efficiency! Do not be frightened of the words you don’t know, testing you for difficult words is often not the objective of the test.

Keep in mind that the objective of the TOEFL examination is to determine whether you have the ability to study in English-speaking countries. So the primary goal is to master the key points and understand the meanings instead of focusing on your vocabulary volume or whether you have become an encyclopedia.


The writing section is divided into two parts: (1) “based on reading and listening” and (2) “based on knowledge and experience.”

I think that for most people, writing based on knowledge and experiences is not hard. Just remember that English writing is a more direct and clear style. Just make sure the Topic sentences, supporting ideas, and a conclusion are written in a simple and clear manner. If you follow this major structure, don’t deviate from it, and do not try to deliberately and excessively use difficult vocabulary words to flaunt. Then, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to obtain a great score.

taking toefl

The based on reading and listening part is usually more difficult. The speech you listened to may talk about the A perspective, but the article you read may raise the contradicting B perspective. So listen carefully to what the speaker said, and respond to the comparison areas mentioned in the article. List the relevant points, draw up an appropriate conclusion, and then you are good to go.

A few tips on how you can score higher points are listed below:

1. Clear structure!

This is being repeated again because it really is the top priority You can have a weak argument, even fail to understand what the speaker said or what the article meant, and forget a lot of the details; however, as long as your framework is there, you will get the basic points.

2. Commonly used examples

Although the words “for example” is a pretty boring method to introduce supporting ideas, it is simple and practical. As long as the example is good or the example was raised by the speaker or article, it can demonstrate your clear logic and understanding of the subject again.

3. Strong supporting references

You may be thinking, there is no Internet access during the test, so where is the data? However, the “based on knowledge and experience” writing section usually revolves around topics familiar everyone. When a person writes down straightforward facts, doesn’t it appear more convincing than “according to a survey from National XX Center”?

A person may suddenly be unsure of how to use authoritative references. In addition to using vague terms such as “according to survey/investigation,” maybe you can write something like, “The recent survey from Peking University revealed the fact that…”. Quoting well known schools to present an academic knowledge actually works pretty well, however, remember not to write about facts that you are not too familiar with, or the errors would become obvious and it would do more harm than good.

4. Use a good rhetoric and remember to provide a good ending.

Make use of some parallelisms and analogies to enrich the article. However, one thing is important. Try to finish off with ending sentences that links back to the main topic. The last sentences are usually the most impressive. The examiner has to read so many essays. So if the ending is strong and the grammar, sentence structure, or word choices are appropriate, the overall points will improve significantly as well.

[LISTENING (Part 1)]

TOEFL-listening-hubThe TOEFL Listening section is divided into two parts. Each part has a conversation and two lectures. Listening time for each section is approximately 20 minutes, and the answer time is 10 minutes. Therefore, each part takes approximately 30 minutes overall.
Because the TOEFL test is designed to test non-native English speakers or those who have not studied in English-speaking countries and determine whether they have sufficient English proficiency to live inside the campus, most of the dialogues will revolve around campus related topics such as questions related to registration matters, how to do homework issued by a professor, how to argue your own ideas with professors, etc. 90% of the dialogues are about daily life activities. So just relax, and you will soon know that the questions are actually pretty easy to answer.

What is worth noting is that the lecture parts instead may be discussing more specialized topics such as “Marine Ecology,” “Abstract Art History,” etc. You may encounter many technical terms that you are not aware of, or hopefully be fortunate enough to come across a field that you are familiar with during university studies. If that is the case, how do you prepare?

TOEFL is mostly testing for general English fluency abilities, so cramming school is really needed. The key is knowing how to improve yourselves. Please stay tuned as we will provide answers in the next part~

Conquer TOEFL by yourself! Part I

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WHAT IS THE 7634820722? toefl

TOEFL is an English aptitude test designed by the American nonprofit educational institution ETS, and it is an ability test especially targeted for those who are non-English native speakers and have not attained a degree in a classroom where English was the primary language of instruction. Initially, TOEFL was separated into three distinct types, including the PBT (paper based test), CBT (computer based test), and the iBT (Internet-based test). Presently, most universities accept the iBT, and in most countries, test takers can only take the iBT, in which the test is given online, and the total score is 120 points.

In a general sense, a score of 80 in the iBT is the minimum requirement for exchanging or applying to an overseas university, and 100 is the lowest entry requirement for graduate studies (nevertheless, better schools will have higher requirements). However, what is worth mentioning is that the results of this test are only valid for 2 years, and the duration begins on the test date (for instance, if your test was on March 10, 2015, your scores would be valid until March 10, 2017). Hence, when deciding when you will be needing the TOEFL and scores, you need to decide whether you will be in line with the expiration date (and also remember that this test is not something that you take once, and you’re done with for life!).

Furthermore, since in recent years the local online forums and cram schools have gotten more and more skilled, and they strategically answer and systematically crack the test questions, there have been more and more students who receive very high scores. This has prompted the US institutions to raise their TOEFL requirement for entry on an annually basis. This is what we call an unsustainable effect that hurts those that come after us.

Registration method

Since iBT is Internet-based, registration for test is done online. First, you need to register for the TOEFL test on the Ministry of Education’s website (/

The online registration process contains the following four steps:

    1. Register to become a member, and construct your personal file (just as you would for other account setups).

Attention to name (Chinese and English), gender, personal ID number, document number, and date of birth. Please double-check to make sure they are correct, as these basic important information cannot be changed later on. As for the other needed information, I believe that those who have established an account would understand, and so I will not repeat.

2. Pay for your test fee online. 

There are many forms of payment accepted for your iBT test which includes: Credit card, e-checks, Paypal and e-checks. The forms of payment NOT accepted are: cash or demand drafts, post-dated checks, receipts of bank checks, and UNESCO coupons. Also please pay special attention that only the British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Japanese Yen and Euro currencies are accepted. In addition, here’s a list of important fees related to the test:



3. Register for a test. 

Normal registration period is up until 7 days prior to the test date, and if you register within 7 days from the test, you will need to pay an additional fee for late registration. What’s worth pointing out is that, you need to be very selective about your testing spot at this stage. However, January and July through September are the hottest time for testing, and in a big city, it is difficult to find an ideal testing spot if you don’t register four to six months prior to the test. At this point, you may choose to take the test in a different city (or if you have a chance to participate in exchange program abroad, you may also take the test there).

Often times, there are several different ways for testing spots to be released:
A) NEEA will release a large bundle of testing spots several months before the test, which may include spots in the upcoming six months. (Mostly before October)
B) Several days prior to the test, there will also be a release of testing spots in different provinces and cities. But whether a particular city will release a number of spots on which date and time remains unclear.
C) To cater to the large number of test-takers, NEEA may spontaneously decide to host more test sessions. But this also remains undecided.

Therefore, the most important thing would be, to plan for your test date early after you have established the score you need, and to schedule a testing spot six months before you take the test!

4. Fill out background information questionnaire. 

After you finish this part, you will have just made an important first step toward taking the TOEFL test! In my own experience, most people are plagued with laziness, and although we know that we must take the test, it is hard to focus until we actually have to do it. Usually, it isn’t until a test-taker has finished registering that he/she becomes motivated and starts planning out a schedule for studying. Hence, why not register early and make up your mind early so that you can attain the best date and testing spot, and have sufficient time to study toward getting a good score!