TOEFL iBT | Reading | Full Lesson | Household Pests

Who’s ready for a full, crazy reading lesson? In the first of its kind, I have the FULL RUNDOWN for you guys today. We’re going to go through all these questions together and pray we can make it through. I would’ve like to make this live, but premiere’s are better because I can speak to you while the video is going. Nonetheless, the lesson is on household pests, and after all the reading techniques, let’s see if you got what it takes to succeed!

[1] Including almost 10 million species and representing over 90% of life on planet Earth, insects are ubiquitous. And while humans live peacefully side by side with most insect species, some pose a threat to human activity and habitats. You need only to consider the damage caused by insects to agricultural crops, and the ramifications for food security and agricultural economies, to understand their potential to wreak havoc. But it is not only the food we grow that can be threatened by insects; our homes themselves may be impacted. And while many pests – such as cockroaches and beetles – are regarded as disgusting and unseemly on our floors and walls, others may be outright damaging and threaten the value of a homeowner’s property. Two such pests are ants and termites.
 

[2] To a homeowner, termites can pose a significant threat. As detritivores, termites consume dead plant matter, which includes the wood we use in construction. Thus a colony of termites may undermine the strength of timber foundations, chew through walls, and hollow out stairs in a matter of months. This not only damages the home itself, but also creates safety hazards for the human occupants. Another insect capable of chewing through wood is the humble ant. Ants may put their well-deserved reputation for industriousness to work on more than just your house; they are also attracted to foods in the home and, left unchecked, can quickly become a terrible nuisance in the kitchen or garbage areas.
 

[3] Of course, pests such as termites and ants can be prevented, controlled, and eradicated, primarily through the use of chemical compounds that are toxic to the pests. These chemical compounds combat the insects at a biological level. Most compounds are composed of a pesticide, a dilutant, a particulate, a thickening agent, and a surfactant system. The pesticide is the toxic chemical that kills the pest, while the dilutant ensures that the compound does not endanger its human users (still, direct exposure is not recommended). The particulate agent suspends the pesticide within the dilutant, and the thickening agent serves to make the compound easier to apply to infested areas. Finally, the surfactant lowers the surface tension of the compound, further facilitating application.
 

[4] When it comes to pesticides, application is key. More specifically, the compound must be applied in the correct location, either exterior to the home or on the interior. Exterior application of a pesticide will help to prevent future pests from entering the structure. This commonly involves applying a compound to outside walls, porches, and window areas. Interior application can be more challenging, since insects seek out nesting areas which are relatively inaccessible to humans. This includes hollow spaces between walls, soft spots beneath floors, and hard-to-reach corners in cabinets and other furniture. Interior application is meant to eliminate those pests which have already infested a home. Thus effective pest control involves both prevention and eradication. While many homeowners choose to take the problem into their own hands and apply pesticides themselves, others choose to support the burgeoning pest control industry, hiring professionals who have the knowledge and equipment to ensure that compounds are applied safely.
 

[5] Exactly how big of a threat to termites and ants pose to homeowners? Global statistics are difficult to compile, but it is estimated that in the southwestern U.S. alone termites cause approximately 1.5 billion dollars in damage each year. The scale of the problem is such that the pesticide and pest control industries are growing, and entire communities have undertaken measures to control and eradicate these insects.
 

[6] While biochemical solutions remain highly effective methods of pest control, there is growing opposition to the use of chemicals in and around human habitation. The move toward “organic” food – that grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides – has helped to raise awareness of the potential health risks of such chemicals. Thus natural pest control, relying on non-toxic methods and compounds, is becoming more popular. Natural methods may utilize plants or even other insects to ward off or eliminate pests. Particular plants are known to repel particular insects; for example, crushed mint leaves are touted as an effective ant deterrent.

bestmytest.com

Questions

  1. The word “others” in paragraph 1 refers to…
  • cockroaches and beetles
  • pests
  • floors and walls
  • homeowners

2. Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 1?

  • a majority of the world’s insects cause problems to humans.
  • insects’ damage to homes is a greater problem than their damage to agriculture
  • insects are the most common type of animals on the planet
  • cockroaches and beetles are commonly misunderstood by humans

3. The word ‘unchecked’ in paragraph 2 is closest in meaning to:

  • inside
  • uncontrolled
  • persistent
  • bothered

4. Which of the following components helps to make applying the pesticides easier?

  • particulate
  • dilutant
  • pesticide
  • surfacant

5. According to paragraph 4, which of the following is true of the interior application of pesticides?

  • it is more dangerous than exterior application
  • it helps to prevent an infestation from happening
  • it is more difficult than exterior application
  • it is not very effective

6. In paragraph 4, the author mentions “hard to reach corners in cabinets and other furniture as an example of

  • common points of entry for insect infestations
  • areas which should be avoided when applying pesticide
  • key pathways for insects within a home
  • possible nesting areas for pests

7.Which of the following best expresses the essential information highlighted sentence? Incorrect answer choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

While many homeowners choose to take the problem into their own hands and apply pesticides themselves, others choose to support the burgeoning pest control industry, hiring professionals who have the knowledge and equipment to ensure that compounds are applied safely.

  • Homeowners may work alongside pest control professionals to support the safe and effect application of pesticide.
  • Some homeowners choose to support the pest control industry, which hires knowledgeable and safe professionals who can assist the homeowner in applying pesticides
  • Some homeowners deal with pests on their own, but others seek professional help for a higher level of safety
  • Even though the pest control industry is growing some people do not wish to hire professionals and instead attempt to control pests themselves.

8. In paragraph 5, why does the author mention “1.5 billion dollars in damage?”

  • to lend support to community-wide pest control solutions
  • to prove that estimating the impact of pests is difficult
  • to introduce the idea of natural pest control methods
  • to illustrate the extent of the problem caused by termites and ants

9 Examine the four █ in the selection below and indicate at which block the following sentence could be inserted into the passage:

Another natural approach involves altering the timing or pattern of lighting, since this appears to disrupt the insects’ breeding habits.

While biochemical solutions remain highly effective methods of pest control, there is growing opposition to the use of chemicals in and around human habitation. █ [AThe move toward “organic” food – that grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides – has helped to raise awareness of the potential health risks of such chemicals. █ [B] Thus natural pest control, relying on non-toxic methods and compounds, is becoming more popular. Natural methods may utilize plants or even other insects to ward off or eliminate pests █ [C] Particular plants are known to repel particular insects; for example, crushed mint leaves are touted as an effective ant deterrent. █ [D] .

A)

B)

C)

D)

10 Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.

Termites and ants are pests that can damage homes by chewing through wood.

?????

a. the pest control industry is growing rapidly, and pest control professionals can help ensure safe application of pesticides.

b. pesticides may be applied outside the home for prevention and within the home to kill existing insects

c. pests do a lot of damage to homes every year, and some people are turning to more natural methods of pest control

d. pesticides alone have been found to be less effective than pesticides used in combination with natural methods of pest control

e. compounds used to eliminate pests are typically comprised of several key ingredients

f. besides damaging homes, insects can cause significant damage to agricultural crops and food supplies

TOEFL iBT | Listening | Listening Tips for Success! | How to Note-take with a Utensil

Welcome back to the super amazing blog here! I’m BEYOND grateful to give this to you, and normally this is available to my Patreon students — but again — a student has come forth and showed me that she has a lot of listening difficulties. So, I want to be able to do this blog/podcast for you guys.

Listen for the main idea


In most cases, the first question after each lecture is a main idea question also known as a gist question. At the beginning of a listening lecture, the professor usually mentions what the main topic of the lecture will be about, but sometimes the topic might be branched into something more specific. Please note the topic can change, so always be prepared to note down any new topics.

Listen to the speaker’s tone of voice


Sometimes you’ll be asked questions regarding the speaker’s attitude or opinion. To answer these questions correctly, tone of voice matters. For example, does the speaker sound excited, confused, sad…etc?

Listen to how ideas are connected throughout the lecture


When listening to a lecture, make note of the way the ideas in the lecture are connected. In other words, how the professor organized the lecture. When you encounter a question asking you how the lecture is organized, you can refer back to your notes. Some of the main relationships between ideas include cause/effect, compare/contrast, and steps in a process.

Listen for key points not specific details


TOEFL listening questions will not test you on small details. For example, you won’t see questions that are about a specific year, name, or location. Instead, questions will test your understanding of key points mentioned in the lecture.

Listen for signal words that indicate different parts of the lecture


To help you capture key points in the lecture, you need to learn to listen for signal words or transition words. These words are like the road signs that tell you what is coming next. Signal words can tell you the beginning or the end of a topic. They can also help you move through the middle of the lecture by introducing topics.

Signal words
“Okay”, “Well”, “Now”, “But”, and “So”

1. “Okay” and “Now” are usually used to transition into a different topic or a different key point.
2. “Well” is usually used before answering a question.
3. “But” and “So” are usually followed by a key point.
Examples
All right folks, let’s continue our discussion of alternative energy sources and move on to what’s probably the most well-known alternative energy source— solar energy. The sun basically provides earth with virtually unlimited source of energy every day, but the problem has always been how do we tap this source of energy. Can anyone think of why it’s so difficult to make use of solar energy?OK. Another ancient Greek philosopher we need to discuss is Aristotle—Aristotle’s ethical theory. What Aristotle’s ethical theory is all about is this: he’s trying to show you how to be happy—what true happiness is. Now, why is he interested in human happiness? It’s not just because it’s something that all people want to aim for. It’s more than that. But to get there we need to first make a very important distinction. Let me introduce a couple of technical terms: extrinsic value and intrinsic value.All right, so far we have been looking at some of the core areas of linguistics, like syntax, phonology, semantics. Now I’d like to talk about the branch of historical linguistics, and the comparison of several different languages, or the comparison of different stages of a single language. Now, if you are comparing different languages, and you notice that they have a lot in common. Maybe they have similar sounds and words that correspond to one another that have the same meaning and that sound similar.
bestmytest
Signal words
Let’s move on to …
This brings me to my next point, which is….
So far we have have been looking at…. Now I’d like to….
So now that we’ve covered…
What … is all about is this…
Examples
All right folks, let’s continue our discussion of alternative energy sources and move on to what’s probably the most well-known alternative energy source— solar energy. The sun basically provides earth with virtually unlimited source of energy every day, but the problem has always been how do we tap this source of energy. Can anyone think of why it’s so difficult to make use of solar energy?OK. Another ancient Greek philosopher we need to discuss is Aristotle—Aristotle’s ethical theory. What Aristotle’s ethical theory is all about is this: he’s trying to show you how to be happy—what true happiness is. Now, why is he interested in human happiness? It’s not just because it’s something that all people want to aim for. It’s more than that. But to get there we need to first make a very important distinction. Let me introduce a couple of technical terms: extrinsic value and intrinsic value.All right, so far we have been looking at some of the core areas of linguistics, like syntax, phonology, semantics. Now I’d like to talk about the branch of historical linguistics, and the comparison of several different languages, or the comparison of different stages of a single language.   Now, if you are comparing different languages, and you notice that they have a lot in common. Maybe they have similar sounds and words that correspond to one another that have the same meaning and that sound similar.   
Signal words
(opinion) I think, It appears that, It is thought that
(theory) In theory, the hypothesis is that
Examples
You have an advertising budget to spend, but how do you to spend it wisely. Again, research is the key. Good research gives you facts, facts that can help you decide, well, as we already mentioned, decide the right market to target, and the best media to use. But also: When to advertise? or…or how to get the best rates? Like, maybe you’re advertising Sport equipment, and you have been spending most of your budget during the holiday season when people buy gifts for each other. Now, in theory, that would seem a great time to advertise, but maybe a research shows you’re wrong, that the customers who buy sports equipment tend not to give it as a holiday gift, but want to use it themselves. In that case, advertising during a different season of the year might give you better results.We recently noticed an increase in cloud cover over an area of the ocean waters around Antarctica. An increased area of low thick clouds, the type that reflects a large portion of solar energy back to space and cools the Earth. Well, the reason for this increased cloud cover, it turns out, is the exceptionally large amount of microscopic marine plants. Well, the current hypothesis is that these microorganisms produce a chemical that interacts with the oxygen in the air, creating conditions that lead to the formation of the low thick clouds we observed. Well, that’s true. It could have huge implications. So, maybe we are talking about controlling the weather. Perhaps, if the microorganisms near Antarctica really are responsible, perhaps we can accelerate the process somehow.

Pay attention to the following transition words which can help you capture the main ideas and examples:

Type of connectionTransition words
These words show the order of ideas.First/Second/Third
Firstly (or “First of all”)/Secondly/Thirdly (or “Lastly”)
For one thing/For another thing/Finally (or “Lastly”)
In the first place/in the second place/Finally (or “Lastly”)
These words show the addition of informationIn addition, furthermore, additionally, also, next, moreover, what’s more, on top of that
These words shows conclusions.To sum up, in summary, in conclusion, to conclude, all in all, all things considered ,overall, taking everything into consideration, in a nutshell
These words demonstrate contrastConversely, on the contrary, by contrast, by way of contrast, on one hand/on the other hand
These words compare or demonstrate similaritySimilarly, likewise, by the same token, along similar lines
These words show result.As a result, as a consequence, consequently, therefore
These words state a generalization.Generally, on the whole, in most cases, in general
These words clarify a point.That is, in other words, to put it simply, That is to say, just to reiterate
These words give examples.For example, for instance, take something, for example, to give a clear example
These words state an alternative.Alternatively, as another possibility
TIPS TO IMPROVE TOEFL LISTENING SCORE

NO SKIPPING ANSWERS
Unlike the reading section, in the listening section you CANNOT skip answers and come back. If you skip a question, you will not be able to go back and answer it

Make an educated guess on questions you are unsure of
When you don’t know the answer, try to figure out which choice is most consistent with the main idea of the conversation or lecture. Another way is to eliminate obvious wrong answers.

Don’t take more than two minutes to answer a question.
If you spend more than two minutes on a question, you might run out of time. It is not worth it. Leave time for other questions that you have more confidence on. It’s better to have an educated guess and move on than it is to miss out on potential easy questions because you ran out of time.

NOTE-TAKING TIPS

Here are symbols you can use in your notes:

SymbolMeaningExamples
=refer to, occur, ..etcA concept that people make choices to describe a situation in a positive or negative way is referred to as word framing
Word framing = ppl describe a situation in ✓ or X way.
Because, as a result of, due to, because, owing toDue to the increasing popularity of e-books, there has been a fall in paper book sales.
∵↑e-books, paper books $↓
ThereforeElement 43 has radioactive decay, therefore element 43 doesn’t last very long, which means if that ever had been present on earth, it would have decayed ages ago.
Elem43 has radioa. decay ∴ it ≠ last long
=>result in, lead to, contribute to, give rise to, causeCarbon dioxide significantly contributes to global warming.
CO => global warming
isn’t, doesn’t, don’t, can’t etc.Element 43 has radioactive decay, therefore element 43 doesn’t last very long, which means if that ever had been present on earth, it would decayed ages ago.
Elem43 has radioa. decay ∴ it ≠ last long
+many, lots of, a great deal of, etc.Because potatoes have the ability to provide abundant and extremely nutritious food crop, no other crop grew in Northern Europe. As a result, the nutrition of the general population improved tremendously and population soared in the early 1800s.
∵ potatoes /nutri crop/+vitamins => popul↑ in Europe 1800s
++ComparativesOlder and more experienced birds who nest in the high density shrub areas have significantly more offspring than those in low density areas, which suggests the choice of where to nest does have an impact on the number of chicks they have.
older birds /nest in high shrub ++offsprings birds/nest in low shrub
+++SuperlativesWhat was even more surprising were all the large organisms that lived down there. The most distinctive of these was something called the tube worm. Here, let me show you a picture. The tube of the tube worm is really, really long. They can be up to one and half meters long, and these tubes are attached to the ocean floor, pretty weird looking, huh?
! +++special = tube warm /long/tubes attached to ocean floor
Little, few, lack ,in short of/ be in shortage of, etc.As I said the monsoon migrated itself, so there was less rain in the Sahara. The land started to get drier, which in turn caused huge decreases in the amount of vegetation, because vegetation doesn’t grow as well in dry soil, right? And then, less vegetation means the soil can’t hold water and the soil loses its ability to retain water when it does rain. So then you have less moisture to help clouds form, nothing to evaporate for cloud formation.
– rain in Sahara
land+dry => vegetation↓
–vegetation => soil ≠ hold water => -water to form cloud
!Important, interestingBut what’s particularly interesting about these volcanoes is that most of the volcanoes here on Earth are not shield volcanoes. Instead, they are other volcano types, like strata volcanoes, for example, which are a result of tectonic plate movement.
! volcanoes on earth ≠ shield volcanoes = strata volcanoes
tectonic plate => volcanoes on earth

Other symbols:

SymbolMeaning
&And, also, in addition, etc.
~about/around, approximately, etc.
And so on
$Sales, money, cost
e.g.For example
i.e.That is
xWrong, incorrect, bad, detrimental, negative, etc.
Right, good, positive, etc.

TOEFL iBT | Independent Essay | Evaluating an Essay #6 | How to Get a 24

Here it is, people! The last Independent Essay from my previous student who ended up achieving a 24 on her writing, giving her a grand total of 100 for her test.

So, in this video/podcast, this is what a 23/24 essay would look like, but the amount of things she could have done better is staggering. Nonetheless, hear me break down each paragraph, try drawing conclusions of the 2nd body paragraph, and see if everything correlates — which it doesn’t.  This is a great learning lesson for most of you out there, and she made a quantum leap to get that 24, which I’m absolutely so happy about.

Here’s the essay topic.

People learn things better from those at their own levels—such as fellow students or co-workers—than from those at a higher level, such as teachers or supervisors.

Podcast

TOEFL iBT | Listening | Lecture | Urbanization in America

Welcome back to another TOEFL iBT Listening! Because the podcast on Beluga Whales has done extremely well, I decided to do another for you, follow by listening tips for success and a reading test! So we have an action-packed week of TOEFL coming up beginning today and going through the beginning of next week. In saying that, let’s get into it!

My Notes

Process of which rural to urban/industrial

more and more move, cities got bigger and bigger

Why did they want to live there?

Cities

No need for them before factories because most people just farmed

1800s — inventors came up with machines of mass production

transformed agriculture, less human activity

people flocked to factories

Foreign countries and largest boom in immigration

fair share of positives and negatives

Bad

To house them, cheap building thrown up overnight

crowded and unhealthy — proper access to water, clean air, sanitsation

sickness and disease

new form — rise in crime

strong anti-immigrant feelings -=- strong racial biases and hate crimes

Positives

More opportunities, pay is higher in cities

Improvements to roads and businesses, transportation, subways, public trains

mass expansion of museums, libraries and theatres

parks established

revelation that public health mattered

first-large scale hospitals

As a result of massive movement

some of americas greatest cities: hundreds of new cities were born, New York 1.5 million and doubled to 5 million

Chi town – 300k people to 3 million people

Why cities had a tough time keeping up with growth

Most people live in urban landscapes

cities are much different: hospitals, libraries, parks, after 100 years, now we have policies

In what ways do we wstill need to grow, making same mistakes as a hundred years ago

bestmytest.com

Podcast

1. According to the lecture, what was the main cause of urbanization?

– a lack of farming jobs because of famine encouraged people to find work elsewhere

– the invention of new machines transformed cities and farming, encouraging movement

– the attractive benefits of city life encouraged many people to make the move

– overpopulation meant that there wasn’t enough space in rural areas for all people

2. What does the professor suggest caused higher numbers of people to grow sick in cities?

  • The lack of proper sanitation in people’s homes and neighborhoods
  • the housing options forced people to live in overcrowded neighborhoods
  • a lack of planning mean there was no trash or water services
  • all of the above

3. According to the lecture, what was the result of so many new immigrants moving to America?

  • The rise in population led to more communal sentiments and a strong country.
  • along with new people came a new perspective on cultural acceptance.
  • all the new people created racially divided communities discrimination and anger.
  • the new races of people didn’t interact often and established their own cities.

4. What does the professor mean by the term “infrastructure”?

  • The structures in a city that make life easier and enjoyable
  • the shape that the different structures in cities take on
  • the imagined potential for a city after planning is done
  • the parts of a city that constantly need improvement

5. Why does the professor suggest that it’s understandable to see why cities had so many problems at first?

  • he describes the lack of technology that was available for providing basic needs
  • he explains that the political structures were bad and didn’t work for the people
  • he illustrates that the population growth happened faster than the cities could keep up
  • he imagines that the problems are part of any city at any time in history

6. What was the main point of this lecture?

  • to provide questions for improving our modern cities
  • to explain the causes and effects of urbanization
  • to describe the poor living conditions of the early cities
  • to compare and contrast past cities with modern cities

TOEFL iBT | Speaking | Part IV | Creep & Slump

Another break down  of a TOEFL Speaking question and how some of you may be wasting quality time jotting down information that doesn’t have substance. I’ve seen this happened recently with one of my students and I realized it needed to be addressed, so here it is!

TOEFL iBT | Writing | How to Write a High-Scoring Introductory Paragraph

You guys are going to love me for this. Yes, I know there are a ton of standard templates out there that the majority of planet Earth uses, but what if I told you that you can write a fully functional introductory paragraph and get even more points? In today’s blog/podcast/video, I will discuss just that.

A high-scoring TOEFL introductory paragraph can be split into two parts.

  1. General background information about the essay topic.
  2. A thesis statement


General background information

There are many different ways of writing the general background information about the topic. For example, you could write about a brief history of the topic or an explanation why this topic is controversial or important. Alternatively, you can begin with other people’s opinions on this topic.


Thesis statement

The thesis statement is the single most important sentence in your essay and you must include it in the introductory paragraph. A thesis statement is your main opinion on the essay topic, and it also includes a preview of your key points in which you will be writing about in detail in your body paragraphs.



Developing an industry is more important than saving the environment for endangered animals. Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Use specific details and examples to support your viewpoint. 

Typically, unprepared test takers will write something like this: 

I do not agree with the statement that developing an industry is more important than saving the environment for endangered animals. 

Before we continue, please take a moment and try to figure out what’s wrong with this introductory paragraph. Is there a problem with this intro? Well…yes…there are actually two problems. First, it simply reused the words from the topic question. TOEFL will deduct marks, if you do this. Don’t do it! :), Secondly, the paragraph is too short. 

OK, now that we figured out the issues, let’s see how we can solve this problem. 

OK! First, before you write your thesis statement, give some general background information about it or you can give someone’s opinion on it. Don’t worry, I’ll give examples later.

Now it’s time to write your thesis statement. Remember that simply copying the essay topic will cost you points, so instead you will paraphrase the essay topic. 

Let’s look at the definition for Paraphrasing: to express the same meaning by using different words or different sentence structures. Remember when I paraphrased the word “problems” into “issues”? Well, you will do the same thing for your thesis statement by paraphrasing the essay topic. 

So now that we have added background information before the thesis statement and paraphrased the essay topic into our thesis statement, we have solved the issues from the first example. 

Now let’s look at a high-scoring intro paragraph that uses everything we just learned.

Developing an industry is more important than saving the environment for endangered animals. Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Use specific details and examples to support your viewpoint. 

The debate on the competition between economic development and the protection of endangered species has been going on for decades. I disagree with the statement that developing industry should take precedence over saving the environment for endangered species because I firmly believe that destroying the environment will eventually take its toll on humans in the long run.

Notice the word “debate”? This word is very useful when it comes to TOEFL writing. Any time the essay prompt asks you to agree or disagree with a statement, you can use the word “debate” to point out that the statement has both sides of opinion. Here we write “The debate on the competition between industrial development and the protection of endangered species has been going on for decades”. So what did this sentence give to the intro paragraph? 

It gave general background information about this topic. 

Now, let’s look at the thesis statement “I disagree with the statement that developing industry should take precedence over saving the environment for endangered species because I firmly believe that destroying the environment will eventually take its toll on humans in the long run.” 

The writer used paraphrasing!. “Take precedence over” means the same thing as “is more important than”. He also uses “species” instead of “animals”. 

There are multiple ways to paraphrase sentences and words. For example: “take precedence over”can be written as “take priority over”. Here is the full sentence: “Developing industry should take priority over saving the environment for endangered species”. You can practice paraphrasing by thinking of different ways you can paraphrase essay topics and vocabulary. 

Let’s look at another example that starts off with other people’s opinions.

When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success. Do you agree or disagree with the statement above? Use examples and details to support your position. 

It is generally believed that success comes through hard work and luck does not play a part. However, in my opinion, hard work can certainly improve a person’s situation, but luck will to a large extent influence the course of a person’s life because the social circumstances that people are born into play an amazingly large role in the potential they have throughout their lives.

As you can see, it begins with other people’s opinions by using the common pattern “It is generally believed that”. Then, it uses “however” to introduce the thesis statement which is “ in my opinion, hard work can certainly improve a person’s situation, but luck will to a large extent influence the course of a person’s life because the social circumstances that people are born into play an amazingly large role in the potential they have throughout their lives.”

TOEFL iBT | Reading | Techniques for Inference & Complete the Table Questions

We’re back with another reading part. In today’s podcast/video/blog, we’re going to discuss another question type that was requested by some TOEFLtakers. Inference questions, which prove to be the most difficult, will be broken down, as well as a detailed “complete the table” section. So, it’s time to dive in!

Complete The Table

“Complete The Table” question requires you to read and understand the whole text. However, unlike the “Complete The Summary” question, instead of choosing major ideas and themes from the text, you need to pick out and categorize minor details. There is no limit on how many answers you can choose, but remember, not all the choices will be used. I will show you an easier way to saving more time in not having to read the entire text.

This question type defers from the “Complete The Summary” question type. You will be categorizing minor details instead of major ideas. 

Let’s look at an example….

[1] A tree is a perennial plant that consists of a long stem, trunk, branches and in most species, leaves. They have evolved their structure to compete for sunlight with other plants. Trees usually live for a long time, up to thousands of years old and they have existed on the planet for 370 million years. A tree has woody tissue and is surrounded by bark that protects the plant. The root of a tree anchors it in place and the branches carry leaves that capture light and process it into sugar by photosynthesis. 

[2] The function of trees in our environment is invaluable. They release oxygen into our atmosphere and remove carbon dioxide, storing carbon in their own tissues. Trees prevent soil erosion by soaking up water in areas with high rainfall. In tropical rainforests and various other regions of the world, trees provide a habitat for a vast number of animal and plant species. Other functions of trees are in the provision of wood for fuel, cooking, heating, construction, paper production and fruit. 

[3] The leaves of trees are formed for photosynthesis. The broad sizes and shapes of deciduous trees attract the light to be converted to energy. Coniferous trees sometime have needles which are adapted to environments with less water, such as frozen regions with a higher latitude and altitude. {B} The thin shape of the needles and position of evergreen branches allow the leaves to shed snow. Broad-leaved trees in temperate zones of the world shed their leaves as days get shorter in the autumn and winter seasons. This is because the leaves are no longer making new chlorophyll through photosynthesis due to less light. The red and yellow pigments of the leaves’ blades become visible, causing the bright orange, red and yellow-colored autumn leaves. The synthesis of auxin – a plant hormone – also stops. Once the production of auxin ceases, the cells at the junction of the twig and the petiole of the leaf weakens and the leaf breaks off and falls on the ground. In regions of the world with more sun exposure, trees may not shed their leaves. 

[4] There are several other reasons that trees shed leaves and twigs. During a drought season, trees often shed about ten percent of their leaves, thus losing less water. Another reason for leaf-fall is when vigorous trees shed excessive leaves to adjust to the summer heat. Moreover, leaves near the base of the tree are more likely to drop off due to lack of sunlight. Another cause is insect-tunnelling of leaf stalks, leaving short, fragile petioles which leads to more leaf-fall. Disease, such as Dutch elm disease or root rot, or injuries to the tree, is another source of leaf-fall. Fungus, such as leaf-spot disease, also causes increased shedding of leaves. Fungi such as anthracene and apple scab defoliate crab apple trees, sycamore, ash, white oak and maple. 

[5] Squirrel activity or twig- girdling insects can also cause clusters of fallen leaves that are attached to short twigs. There are specific tree species, such as poplars, that shed twigs during moisture stress period. The end of the twig will be like a smooth curve. The metallic wood boring beetle prefers red oak and other oak trees. They lay eggs onto twigs. Once hatched, the larvae bore into twigs in a spiral fashion until there are clusters of dead leaves. The longhorn beetle is gray-brown in color. The adult beetles appear at the end of the summer. The female beetle chews the twig, girdling it and laying eggs on it. The twig then withers and dies. The new larvae thrive in the dead twig. The behaviour of these two insects could be another explanation of excessive twig fall.

Complete the table by matching the phrases below

Directions: Select the appropriate phrases from the answer choices and match them to the Radiocarbon Dating and Faunal Analysis to which they relate. Some of the answer choices will NOT be used. 

This question is worth 4 points.
Coniferous treesDeciduous trees
    
  • A. Needles are shaped upward to prevent leaf-fall.
  • B. Needles are shaped specifically to allow the shed of snow.
  • C. Broad leaves help to cause a faster rate of photosynthesis.
  • D. Leaves become orange and red due to the increase of the hormone auxin.
  • E. Adapted to regions with higher altitudes due to the then shape of the needles.
  • F. Autumn-colored trees are caused by the increase in yellow, red and orange pigments as chlorophyll drops.
  • G. Leaves are shed in autumn and winter seasons due to less light.

Arsenio, before showing me the answer, can you show me the techniques to answer this question?

Sure! But before we begin, please keep in mind that there is no logical order of steps or any real techniques to help you solve this question. 

The TOEFL Tournament

Who’s ready for this year’s tournament? You guys are going to LOVE this.

In the link down below, there are a series of question for you to sign up for this month’s TOEFL tournament.

In the tournament, you will immediately start off in the quarterfinal round and you’ll be writing against someone else. So, it could be someone from Brazil vs. someone from Denmark. Whoever writes the best Independent Essay, moves onto the next round (semifinals). In the semifinals, you will be given an integrated task. And like the quarterfinals, whoever writes the best integrated tasks moves onto the finals. In the finals you will submit a package of four speaking questions (all materials will be provided by me) and the winner gets a free, 4-hour package of coaching (valued at $160 USD)!

Loser of the quarterfinals gets 2 speaking question evaluations.

Loser of the semifinals gets 1 free hour of coaching and 1 independent essay/integrated essay review.

So, WHO’S UP FOR THE TASK? Sign up today!

For your information, I will be making videos to grade your essays, speaking tasks, etc. This is all part of the process, but your name won’t be used. If you don’t want your voice or essay being used on video/audio, this tournament won’t be for you. But remember, it’s just a voice/write-up…no one will know WHO YOU ARE! Ha! Let’s go!

Sign Up Sheet

TOEFL iBT | Independent Essay | Evaluating an Essay #5 | High-Risk = High Reward

I was born during the greatest era of college basketball in Las Vegas history.  The Runnin Rebels of UNLV were a dominant force for more than a decade in college basketball, and it’s because the coach had a system called the amoeba defense which basically had a high-risk of giving up a lot of points, but also had a ridiculously high reward with scoring many more points than their opponents.

In this podcast, I restructure an introduction with one of my students and implemented an internal preview instead of using the super-common templates that are out everywhere. After that, I break down the rest of the essay.

Podcast

TOEFL iBT | Reading | Techniques for Complete The Summary & Reference Questions

Welcome to the first-ever TOEFL iBT Reading section! If you guys are reading this on my blog, the podcast and video are down below. If you’re reading this on Spotify, thank you so much for supporting my podcast! If you’re reading this on Facebook, welcome to the live show! In today’s episode, we’re going to go over the 2 first types of reading questions on TOEFL iBT and how to navigate your way through them. I know quite a few of you have difficulty with specific ones, so I’ll cover all of them individually. Let’s kick this off.

Reference Questions

A Reference question is the type of reading question that will take you less than 30 seconds to read both the question and all the options. Also, this is probably the easiest TOEFL reading question type. Especially if you follow the strategies from this lesson, you will almost always get the question right! 

Let’s look at an example:

[2] Many millions of years after ferns evolved (but long before the Hawaiian Islands were born from the sea), another kind of flora evolved on Earth: the seed-bearing plants. This was a wonderful biological invention. The seed has an outer coating that surrounds the genetic material of the new plant, and inside this covering is a concentrated supply of nutrients. Thus the seed’s chances of survival are greatly enhanced over those of the naked spore.


The word “This” in paragraph 2 refers to: 

  1. the spread of ferns and mosses in Hawaii
  2. the creation of the Hawaiian Islands
  3. the evolution of ferns
  4. the development of plants that produce seeds


As you can see, in a reference question, you will see a word, usually a pronoun highlighted in the passage. You are asked what the highlighted word refers to. If it’s a pronoun then you need to identify what word the pronoun is replacing. 

Here are highlighted words you might be asked about:

  1. Subject pronoun: it, they
  2. Object pronoun: it, them
  3. Demonstrative pronoun: these, those, this, that
  4. Possessive adjectives: its, their
  5. Other reference words: the former, the latter, one, ones, another, other, others


Now, it is important to remember that you don’t need a full understanding of the passage in order to solve this question type. You just need to study the context surrounding the word. Usually, you just read the sentence where the highlighted word is mentioned, and then read a few sentences that come before it. 

Next, you need to analyze the sentence structure and find out the answer. 

Usually, you will see two structure types:

  1. Two sentences separated by a period
  2. One sentence separated by a comma