The TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language) exam is used by various schools and employers as a test of English proficiency for non-native speakers. The TOEFL assessment is specifically designed to measure your English ability for the purposes of university-level study. The test is broken up into four sections, one to test each linguistic ability: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Knowing the appropriate vocabulary for each section, including the roots of a word and its different connotations, is one of the important ways you can prepare yourself for this test.
The reading section of the test will challenge your vocabulary knowledge in two ways: comprehension and context. Students are presented with academic reading passages on a variety of subjects and then a series of multiple-choice questions. These questions might ask how certain sentences or phrases can be condensed or paraphrased, which requires an in-depth knowledge of the vocabulary involved.
Listening is more than just paying attention. The test's listening section includes lectures, dialogues between professors and students and casual conversations. Test takers are exposed to a number of vocabulary registers. Understanding the discourse you hear is crucial to this section, which includes idiomatic expressions and slang, along with English as it is used in the classroom.
The speaking component of the exam consists of answering questions on familiar topics -- and in some cases expressing opinions or describing places. You may be asked questions about favorite holidays, academic subjects, or other topics that were touched on in the previous sections. Your success on this section will rely heavily on the quality and propriety of vocabulary used in your replies.
The writing section is organized in a similar format as the speaking section, except that answers are in written essay form as opposed to the spoken word. In-depth knowledge of both academic vocabulary and essay writing are critical for a high mark. Test takers are asked to express and defend their personal views in three to five paragraphs on two or three questions.
Kristy Ambrose enjoys writing about teaching, travel and pet care. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Victoria.