Hot July Idioms!

The month of July is just around the corner and things are only going to get hotter here in Atlanta! Here are a couple English idioms (expressions) which relate to the July heat (and also refer to the winter cold, which is the opposite).

“A cold day in July”

hotcold

A cold day in July is almost impossible in the United States, especially if you live in the southern states. This idiom is used when we think something is pretty much impossible.

“It’ll be a cold day in July before my boss gives me the raise I want!”

 

Christmas in July”

As you may know, many Americans celebrate Christmas and buy many gifts for their friends and family. But sometimes you might get many gifts at another time, for example your birthday. If you get many gifts or money at another time of the year, you might say “it was like Christmas in July.” Yes, you can say this even when it isn’t exactly July!

5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST SCRATCH PAPER

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. Needing more paper is a GOOD sign that you are taking advantage of this resource.

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up! Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for most test-takers. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books — to practice taking notes. For the speaking sections, write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have. Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

These Five Points Should Cover Most Ways You Can Use the Scratch Paper:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!

5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST “SCRATCH PAPER”

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. This should happen every time you take the test!!

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up. Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for the average test-taker. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books and practice resources — to take notes.

Write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have to prepare your independent speaking responses.

Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

While you use this scratch paper, remember these 5 important points:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $ symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!

HAVING TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP BEFORE A TEST (LIKE TOEFL)?

There is a well-known breathing technique called the 4-7-8 method.

Using this breathing method can help you fall asleep the night before a big test (like TOEFL) or other stressful things.

This method can also help you relax before giving a presentation or speaking English (if speaking English makes you nervous).

It’s easy:

1.) Breathe in for four (4) seconds through your nose.

2.) Hold it for seven (7) seconds.

3.) Exhale strongly for eight (8) seconds.

Here is a demonstration and more about it by the famous healthy living doctor from the U.S., Dr. Andrew Weil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRPh_GaiL8s

Easy Way to Reduce Stress for Standardized Tests (TOEFL, TOEIC, GRE, GMAT, SAT, etc.)

Did you know that recent research has shown that just writing about all your worries and anxiety concerning a test, right before the test starts, actually significantly reduces stress and increases test scores.

Our advice: Get to the test center early (this is a good idea anyway) and bring some extra paper to write about why the test is stressing you out. Researchers suggest having about ten minutes to write.

This technique can be used for ANY stressful or high-pressure situation, if you just have the time just before to do this.

Check out one article for more info: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2011/01/13/writing-about-worries-eases-anxiety-and-improves-test-performance

5 EASY WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR TOEFL SCORE WITHOUT EVEN STUDYING

1.) Take it again. Just by taking the test you have gained important experience in what it’s like. The normal TOEFL test-taker improves his/her score significantly from the first to the second attempt. Additional attempts also usually result in increased scores.

2.) Get a good night’s sleep. The normal person needs 7-9 hours of sleep (individual needs may vary). If you have trouble sleeping, try to do some light exercise, stretching, and relaxation breathing (although exercise is not recommended right before bed).

3.) Wake up early. Take a long walk or jog. Also stretch and focus on deep, relaxing breathing.

4.) Try to become comfortable but alert. The test takes around four hours. Make sure to have a complete, healthy breakfast the morning of the test, but don’t overeat. Also drink a couple glasses of water (you want to be hydrated – your brain will perform better – but you don’t want to have to go to the bathroom during the test!).

Stick to your normal habits. If you normally drink one cup of coffee in the morning, for example, then try to have one only cup of coffee before you take the test (and not more). If you are a smoker who normally smokes early in the morning, it’s okay to smoke before the test. Actually, some evidence suggests that smoking can improve short-term test-taking ability, since nicotine is a stimulant. Don’t try to quit smoking in the same month that you take the test. (However, you should quit smoking!)

5.) Do you suffer from any form of test anxiety? Several recent studies have shown that if nervous test-takers sit down just before a test and write down all the reasons why the test causes them anxiety, they will perform significantly better on the test and actually feel less stressed. This exercise is easy and usually only takes about ten minutes. Why not arrive to the test center early and do this?