All things TOEFL iBT

Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category


A take on how to write effectitvely on the Web

Does this apply to TOEFL-iBT reading texts?


Content and Usability


Seize the opportunity

  1. The best time is now.
  2. Opportunity only knocks once
  3. Don’t let the it slip through your fingers.
  4. Make the most of every situation
  5. Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today
  6. Take the bull by the horns
  7. It’s your turn to shine
  8. Step into the limelight
  9. It’s now or never.
  10. A once-in-a-lifetime chance
  11. Don’t throw away your chances
  12. Don’t play with your luck.

The proverbs and sayings above all cover the same idea: SEIZE THE DAY

How do these words of wisdom relate to the current Brazil riots across the country because of bus fares (the original reason)?

Improving your listening skills – Integrated task

Read and listen to some tips on how to improve listening skills. Then answer the THREE questions below in a continuous text in the COMMENTS box.

  1. What tips does the person give?
  2. Which of them do you find most useful?
  3. What other tip would you give to a person learning English?

Improve your listening skills

Integrated Writing and Reading

Try your hand at going through TWO integrated tasks. The pages in the printed version of the book are in bold and in brackets.


Integrated Writing p.657  ex. 23.2 (p.632) – Tasks 4 and 5

Listening p.321-329 ex. 12.2 (p.347)

You can post your draft answers to tasks 4 and 5 above in the Comments box if you please.



Reading – Summaries and Complete the Charts questions

Click on the link below to go to the slides:

TOEFL Ibt READING SECTION summaries and charts.ppt


Integrated Writing task – Success

Read the text below about the what it takes to being successful:

That’s right. The whole “nice guys finish last” thing is dead wrong. Organizations are far more effective when people are nice to each other. Nice wins.

Now, anyone who knows me has got to be cracking up right about now because, like I said, I’m not a very nice person. But lately, I’ve been advising some friends on their career strategy. One woman, a friend of my wife’s, is so smart, open, and downright nice, I don’t think she has a clue what a pleasure she is to work with. I’d do anything for her. That’s just how nice she is.

Mind you, I’ve helped loads of friends and associates get jobs, and while I’m sure they’re appreciative, some of them just aren’t that nice about it. Years ago I hooked up one guy with a company I used to work for that was looking for a CEO. He got the job, the company went public, and he made a bundle. I don’t think he ever thanked me.

But my wife’s friend is so not like that. In fact, she’s been at one company for so long that she really wasn’t up on how competitive the job market has become and how sophisticated and cut-throat job seekers are these days. And it occurred to me that, once she gets to a live human being, she’s got a real competitive advantage. As I told her, “Just be yourself, be genuine, be nice, and people will respond in kind. Things will work out fine for you.”

How do I know that if I’m such a jerk? Well, when I want something, I can be really, really nice. And it comes across as genuine because I genuinely really, really want that thing and, if I have to be nice to get it, then I’ll be as nice as I have to be. And you know what? Nine times out of ten, it works. That’s because people are suckers for nice. Here’s why:

First of all, it’s human nature. I mean, if somebody’s staring you right in the face, they really need your help, and they seem really nice, you’d have to be some kind of antisocial creep not to help them. And while email and phones aren’t quite as personal, again, once you’ve made some sort of personal appeal or connection and you’re nice and transparent about it, most people will help if they can.

Lastly, people have a natural tendency to personalize everything, especially things with emotional content. We just imagine ourselves in the other person’s position, the shoe being on the other foot, as it were, and we react the way we’d want them to react to us. Deep down, that’s actually an egocentric or selfish tendency, but in this case, it actually comes across as a nice gesture. Whatever works, right?

The moral of the story is both simple and powerful. I don’t care if you’re an administrative assistant or a CEO, an engineer or a salesperson, in HR or in IT. No man or woman is an island. Organizations are matrices of teams and stakeholders. And they’re far more effective at getting things done when people help each other and are nice to each other.

Taken from the article printed here


Now watch the video in which the presenter describes eight secrets to success:


How do the ideas in the text contrast with those presented in the video?

Which of the tips presented in your view is the most efficient?


Integrated Writing – School systems

According to educator Sir Ken Robinson, there isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance the same way to children we teach them mathematics.

Do you think Arts (music, dance, painting etc.) should enjoy the same status as Sciences or Maths? Give reasons and examples to support your answer. 

Quick Reading exercise

Read the text Fearing a bloody exit, from the Economist, August 24 th, 2007 with adaptations.

GEORGE BUSH elicited predictable howls of outrage this week when he drew parallels between the catastrophes in Indochina (re-education camps, boat people and the killing fields) that followed America’s withdrawal from Vietnam after 1973 and what might happen in Iraq if American troops were abruptly pulled out—something that he has promised will not happen on his watch, but which all of the Democratic presidential contenders and the congressional leadership are committed to bring about.

John Kerry, who served with the navy in Vietnam while Mr Bush served with the Air National Guard in Texas, and who was defeated by Mr Bush in 2004, called the comparison irresponsible and ignorant. In fact, it was rather brave and rather interesting.

It was brave because supporters of theIraqwar (those who are left) generally try to resist any comparison toVietnam. The comparison is often made by Democrats, who seeIraqas exactly the sort of quagmire forAmericathat destroyed the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. By adopting the comparison himself, Mr Bush was implicitly shouldering the analogy, as well he might. A quagmire is something dangerous which is extremely difficult to get out of.

Of course, theVietnamquagmire was far more deadly thanIraq’s has so far proved. It consumed 58,000 American lives, versus some 3,700 lost inIraqto date.America’s involvement inVietnamlasted 12 years, from the first substantial commitment of troops in 1963 by President Kennedy to the ignominious flight from Saigon in 1975: theIraqwar has lasted only four years so far. Military spending reached almost 10% GDP at the end of the 1960s, compared with some 4% now. And the cost in Iraqi lives, while hideous, is dwarfed by the killings inflicted inVietnamby presidents Johnson and Nixon. But all that said,Iraqplainly has quagmire-like qualities.

The reason why Mr Bush’s comparison was interesting as well as frank is that he put his finger on the most important question that now confronts American foreign-policymakers: beyond the question of whether it was right to invadeIraq, what are the likely consequences of getting out now? The disasters that followedAmerica’s withdrawal from Vietnam after theParispeace accords of 1973 were accurately cited by Mr Bush.North Vietnam failed to keep its promises and, backed byChina, swiftly over-ran the south. Millions were sent to “re-education” camps and around 1m people were so terrified that they fled the country in leaky boats. Communists took over Cambodia and Laos as well asVietnam. InCambodia, the Khmers Rouges established “Year Zero”, a barbaric programme of Maoist repression that left around 1.7m people dead (although it was the Vietnamese who eventually removed the murderous Cambodian regime in 1979). As Mr Bush might have said, but didn’t,America’s foes around the word were emboldened by its humiliation: four years after the fall of Saigon, the Russians invadedAfghanistan.

Mr Bush is right to give warning that terrible consequences may flow from an American withdrawal. Sectarian violence, which Mr Bush’s “surge” of 30,000 additional troops intoBaghdadand its environs has had some success in dampening, would surely worsen. In the absence of a political accord between Shias and Sunnis, a full-blown civil war would be a real possibility.

What, though, is the alternative? Mr Bush seems to be suggesting that America should not have left Vietnam: that a decade of losses there should have been followed by an indefinite continuation of involvement—in the absence, as in Iraq, of strong and reliable government in the host country, in the absence of reconciliation between the warring parties, and in the obvious presence of outside parties (China in Vietnam, Iran in Iraq) bent on meddling. If that is really what Mr Bush is proposing forIraq, he will need to be ready for the mother of all political battles. Just ask the shade of Richard Nixon.

Say whether the sentences below are correct or incorrect, according to the text:

a)The author shuns president Bush’s comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.

b)The comparison made between Iraq and Vietnam has been coined by the Republicans.

c)Bush believesAmericahas more to lose than to gain by pulling out Iraq.

Judge these sentences correct or incorrect, based on syntactic and semantic factors in context.

a) The word “watch” (paragraph 1) can be replaced by “mandate” without infringing any collocation rules.

b)The verb form bring in the sentence “…congressional leadership are committed to bring about” is appropriate since the verb is preceded by the preposition ‘to’.

c)”Whereas” can be used instead of “while” (paragraph 4) without changing the meaning.

Mark these sentences correct or incorrect based on lexical and semantic factors in context.

a) The word “quagmire” (paragraph 3) is the same in meaning as morass, quandary.

b) “Dwarfed”(paragraph 4) can be substituted by “shortened”.

c) The word “howl” (paragraph 1) is synonymous of all these words except for the word ‘mutter’: cater-wauling, bawling, ululation.

Urban legends

Here is the task:

Visit one of these sites and choose a legend that interests you. Take notes on the story and post your notes in the Comments box.


Apps for socially awkward people

Shy, insecure, inhibited, awkward or ill-at-ease? What is the best way to meet people socially?

Read the article (click here) and:

  1. list the main features of these new applications available for smart phones
  2. say whether you would use these applications or not by giving reasons for your answer.

Post your answers in the Comments box.