Friday, 8 June 2012

Be an 'Expert' - Use Evidence

One of my favourite TV programs is the US show CSI. I like this show because I am interested in the crime stories and because it is very exciting. However, I also like it because it gives great lessons for the TOEIC exam. This might sound strange, but it is true. In Les Experts, the investigators are always looking for evidence, which is exactly what students doing the TOEIC need to be doing.

The investigators in Las Vegas, New York or Miami are looking for evidence to tell them who committed the murder. TOEIC students are looking for evidence that tells them how to answer a question. So, exactly what do you need to do to be an 'Expert'? It is actually quite simple, when you answer a question on the TOEIC, you need to ask yourself “why?”.

I find this tactic particularly useful in the reading section (although it applies to the Listening section as well). If you read a question in section 5 (where you need to complete the sentence), it is important to look at the grammar and vocabulary in the sentence. Let's look at an example:

Yesterday I ______ to the movies
  • go
  • went
  • have gone
  • will go

If you look at this question, the key word is “yesterday”. Yesterday is in the past. Therefore, we know that the answer for this question has to be in the past. It must be “go”. This is a very easy example, but, if you can apply this type of logic to other more difficult questions, you will get more and more correct. It doesn't just work with grammar based questions. It also helps with questions that test your vocabulary. For example:

Did you ________ the meeting
  • attend
  • attack
  • deliver
  • complete

The key word in this sentence is “meeting”. We need to choose the verb that goes best with the word meeting. That verb is “attend”.

I tell all my students to follow a simple rule in the TOEIC test. When they answer a question, they must think about why. When they do this, it allows them to be logical. They can apply this logic not just to one question, but to all of them, which gives a greater chance of getting a higher mark.

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