6 Tips and Tricks to get a high score in the TOEFL Written Expression section
Many people struggle with the written expression part of the TOEFL test. So what is the written expression part about?
In our last article, we talked about how to tackle the multiple choice part of the TOEFL structure section. Actually, the written expression part is also a part of the structure section.
So in this article, we’re going to give you the tips, tricks and strategies to get a high score in the written expression part of TOEFL Structure!
So, let’s get ready to roll….
What happens in TOEFL written expression?
The written expression part of TOEFL Structure is designed to test your knowledge of the correct way to express yourself in written English.
In each question, you are given one sentence with four choices consisting of underlined words or a group of words.
You will have to identify which of these underlined words make the sentence incorrect.
The questions look something like this:
Manufacturers may use (A) food additives for preserving (B) to color, to flavor, or to fortify (C) foods (D)
Since A, C, D are grammatically correct, the answer is B.
(Hint: Remember we need to find the underlined word/words that make the sentence incorrect).
So, let’s get to the tips and tricks you need to get a high score in TOEFL written expression!
1. Be careful with countable and uncountable nouns
In English, some nouns are known as countable nouns. For example, pencil, cat, dog (you can count them).
Since you can count them, we use ‘numbers’ for countable nouns. For example: one pencil.
Uncountable nouns cannot be counted. They usually consist of liquids (water), gasses (air) and things with too many parts to count (sugar).
Since they can’t be counted, we use ‘amount’ for uncountable nouns. For example, a little sugar.
Hint: uncountable nouns do not have a plural form. For example, you don’t say “please pass me the sugars”.
Check out these sample sentences:
- The number of students taking this particular course is extraordinarily high.
- They borrowed a large amount of money from Tom.
You might be wondering, why is money uncountable? In English, you have to specify whether it’s a note, a coin, or a currency for it to be countable. For example (2 notes, 2 coins or 2 dollars). You don’t say ‘I have lots of moneys’.
So, be careful when it comes to countable and uncountable nouns. Most of the time it is easy to differentiate but it’s a good idea to learn the difference between them!
The following table lists the key words that indicate whether a noun is countable or uncountable
|For countable nouns||For uncountable nouns|
Check out this sample question
Implosive consonants (A) occur (B) in many different language (C), but they (D) are particularly common in American Indian and African languages.
Can you guess which one is the correct answer (the one that makes the sentence incorrect)? That’s right, it’s C!
‘Many’ indicates a countable noun, which needs a plural form. Therefore, it should be ‘languages’ instead of language.
2. Be careful with prepositions and prepositional phrases
There are so many different types of prepositions. Here are some samples:
One word prepositions: ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘at’, ‘of’’
Two word prepositions: ‘according to’, ‘ahead of’, ‘as for’, ‘aside from’, ‘along with’.
Three word prepositions: ‘in search of’, ‘in spite of’, ‘on behalf of’.
Prepositions precede a noun. Be careful not to confuse prepositions with conjunctions, which join two nouns, verbs, adverbs or sentence parts. For example: ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘for’, ‘still’, ‘also’, ‘then’.
Let’s see if you can determine which part of the following sentence is wrong.
That singer became (A) instantly popular between (B) teenagers after (C) his debut on screen (D)
That’s right! The correct answer is B. Instead of ‘between’, it should be ‘among’.
3. Be careful of redundant words
‘Redundant’ means useless. So redundant words are words or phrases that express the same meaning and have no function.
Consider this sample question:
Irrigation is becoming increasingly (A) important, significant (B), and costly (C) in desert countries (D).
Can you guess which of these words doesn’t belong in the sentence?
That’s right, the answer is B!
‘important’ and ‘significant’ mean the same thing in this context, so there is no need to use ‘significant’.
4. Be careful with adjectives ending in -ing and -ed
Take a look at these sentences
Jane is boring (Jane membosankan)
Jane is bored (Jane bosan)
These two sentences have very different meanings!
The first sentence means that Jane is not an interesting person to be around.
The second sentence means that Jane is not interested in what she is doing at the moment.
An adjective that ends with -ing is used to describe the characteristic of a person, a thing or a situation whereas an adjective that ends with -ed is used to describe a feeling or an emotion.
Now, take a look at the sample question below and let’s see if you can find the word that doesn’t belong:
One of the least common phobias is aquaphobia, its sufferers are terrifying by bodies of water.
As usual, can you guess which of these words are incorrect? That’s right, it’s C! The answer should be ‘terrified’ (takut) not ‘terrifying’ (menakutkan).
5. Be careful of adjectives and adverbs
What’s the difference?
Adjectives describe a noun.
Example: Sam is a careful driver.
Adverbs describe a verb.
Example: Sam drove carefully
Adverbs can also describe adjectives
Example: The test was extremely difficult
Now, take a look at the sample question below:
Despite being thousands (A) of years old, Egyptian mummies are (B) incredible (C) well-preserved (D)
That’s right! The correct answer is C! It should be ‘incredibly’ not ‘incredible’.
6. Be careful with ubject verb agreement
Psssttt… this is the pitfall for many test takers so make sure you pay an extremely careful attention to this, okay?
What is meant by subject verb agreement?
It basically means that you have to be consistent when writing your sentences. That is, if your noun is singular, use a singular verb, and if your noun is plural, use a plural verb.
Mrs. Katherine (singular noun) teaches (singular verb) biology
The boys (plural noun) go (plural verb) to the gym three times a week
Hint: A plural verb does not have an S added to it
Take a look at a sample question below:
There is (A) several things you can do (B) to strengthen (C) your argument (D)
Can you guess the correct answer (the wrong word)? That’s right! It’s A! Several things indicate a plural noun, so it needs a plural verb, so it should be are instead of is.
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