學校及科系：Monash University Foundation Program
Hi! I’m Amber and I took the TOEIC prep class in 2018. I’m 16 (I was 13 when I took TOEIC) and I am currently enrolled in the Foundation Program at Monash University. At the time, I had just moved back to Taiwan after studying in Canada for 3 years and had some free time before school starts, so I decided to take TOEIC just to see how I’d do (and also in case there’s a chance I can use it in the future).
I pretty much spent my entire education in a fully English environment (American school then Canada), but I definitely don’t consider myself as fluent as a native speaker and I feel like being semi-fluent in the language isn’t quite the same as taking a standardized test. For one, conversing with someone (or even just listening to a conversation) is not even remotely similar to answering listening questions on a test. Since I’ve never taken a standardized English test like TOEIC, I wasn’t familiar with the types of questions that will be on the test, its format, or anything at all, which is why I went to Merica. I get stressed easily, especially with tests, so the prep classes really helped me not only practice with and understand the contents of the test but also allow me to feel fully prepared with the little tips and tricks come test day.
A lot of people assume I could easily get the full score because I studied in Canada, but this was not the case. Although I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a “struggle” to receive a score in the 900s, I still faced a few problems. Overall, I didn’t have any big challenges, but rather a lot of little problems here and there in each section.
First off, I’ve never properly learned any grammar rules before going to Merica for TOEIC prep because I never actually “learned” English. At first, when we looked at practice questions in class, I was pretty confident with the grammar questions because it didn’t seem very hard to me and most of the answers came to me naturally. However, I found that I didn’t always do as well as I thought I would’ve. Since I haven’t I’ve always just “felt” for the correct answer, usually just by mouthing the sentence to see which answer sounded the best, I never really had any trouble with grammar in writing, but in TOEIC, I feel like actually knowing how to apply grammar rules is very important because it makes the whole process easier and finding the correct answer quicker. The grammar in TOEIC actually isn’t very difficult, and with the help of my teachers, I improved very quickly.
For listening, I’m not accustomed to the way I have to pay attention to every word that is said, because it’s quite different from a real in-person conversation. But at Merica, my teachers taught me how to listen to the recordings and connect them back to the questions in a more efficient manner, so that I could easily focus on the important aspects of each recording without having to strain myself too much or lose focus near the end of the section. For me, I think the key was to not try too hard (it sounds like weird advice, I know), especially at the beginning where the recordings are shorter. This is because it leaves you with more energy to focus at the end where the recordings are longer.
Overall, this class really helped me with testing techniques that I, as someone who has not ever had any experience with TOEIC or other tests, would not have known. I would definitely recommend taking classes (it doesn’t have to be long term, just a few classes during break should be fine too) before taking TOEIC, especially if you don’t have prior experience with this kind of testing because prep classes don’t just help people boost their scores, they also help with understanding the structure of the test, which makes testing day so much easier as you’ll be used to the types of question on the test.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that TOEIC is more affordable than other English tests, so don’t worry if you don’t get your dream score the first time around. Preparing early also helps, because I’ve seen a few people who don’t have more time to retake the test in my class, so if you want more time to prepare, I would definitely suggest doing it earlier rather than later. As TOEIC scores are valid for 2 years, it’s totally fine to take the test a bit earlier, even when you don’t need it at the moment, so that when you do need the score, you already have it (or you can take it again without needing to prepare). Finally, the most important thing is to just relax and do your best!