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Tutor profile: Andrea O.

Andrea O.
Experienced English Tutor

Questions

Subject: TOEFL

TutorMe
Question:

What if I feel like I don't have enough time to read all the text?

Andrea O.
Answer:

It's important to remember that when we are in an exam, we are not reading for pleasure. What I mean is that you cannot take your time as you read, and you may not have the luxury of trying to understand everything you see on the page. The TOEFL is a rigorous exam. It is meant to be difficult. Because of this, we need to be aware of some tips and tricks to get through it. The first and most important thing to remember is that you are only responsible for answering the questions. If there are a few words in the text that you do not understand, don't stress. It is entirely possible that you will not need these words. It is entirely possible that the questions will have nothing to do with the words that are new to you. It is even possible that the first question in the passage is a vocabulary question like this one "In the passage, the word 'border' means _____." If you know the meaning of that word, you already have a correct answer, even if you never read the text. SO my biggest tip for the reading comprehension portion is to *read the questions first.* When you read the questions, you will have an idea of what to look for in the test. This will save you A LOT of time. You will know exactly what answers you need, and therefore will not have to read as carefully.

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Why did I get such a low score on my essay?

Andrea O.
Answer:

Sometimes we think writing is different from talking. And it is. The problem is that when we talk, we don't really have the opportunity to plan, we just say what we think. When people read, they expect the information to be more organized. More thought out. Let's imagine that we are asked to write about the following question: "Do you prefer to travel alone or with company?" I may answer exactly as the ideas flow out of my mind (and this is by no means a bad thing): "I would never want to travel alone. That is dangerous. I think that I will always want to travel with someone, especially my sister." It is never wrong to write as we think. There is no "wrong way" to write. HOWEVER, if you are writing for an exam or a class, there are expectations that people have. Teachers and people grading exams often want you to write full paragraphs, that is 4-7 sentences. They want you to give lots of information. Additionally, they want order. When you write, you have time to be very clear about your ideas. We do this by organizing our thoughts. Here's a more organized answer to the question: "Do you prefer to travel alone or with company?" "I know many people who enjoy travelling alone. They have backpacked and seen the world. I also know that a lot of these people found themselves in dangerous situations while travelling. I personally believe that it is best to avoid danger. I think that if I travel with a friend, it will be safer and I will also be happier. In my experience, travelling with my sister would be especially ideal. She is older than me, so she knows how to protect me. She is also very funny, so I think it would be much better to travel with her than alone." Both options provide clear answers to the question. However, the second option is preferable in an academic setting because it makes various points and takes the time to expand each point. There is no confusion, and it does not leave the reader with doubts.

Subject: English as a Second Language

TutorMe
Question:

How can I tell someone about my life?

Andrea O.
Answer:

There are many tenses that we can use to talk about the past. When we tell a story, it is especially useful to alternate between these tenses. Suppose that there were three major events that happened in your life. Event 1.) Your marriage Event 2.) The birth of your first child Event 3.) A car accident that altered your life We use past simple to talk about past events in general: "My child was born in 1992." We use present perfect to talk about events in the past, without necessarily specifying when: "I have experienced 3 car accidents in my life." We use past perfect to talk about an event which occurred before another event: "I had already gotten married by the time my first child was born." Knowing these three tenses can help you give more depth to your story. It helps create layers. When I got married in 1990, I was a very happy man (simple past). My wife's family made the most delicious food! We received many gifts. But the greatest gift I have ever received (present perfect), was my daughter Gloria. She was beautiful from the very beginning! I am very grateful that I had enjoyed (past perfect) those moments before the accident changed my life forever.

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