Integrated iBT Exercises

I learn only to be content.

If you are just beginning your test preparation for graduate study overseas, the first hurdle that you will face is scoring sufficiently on the iBT, a computer-based test developed to measure your ability to use English interactively in the real world, at the university level.

Don’t make the mistake of limiting your iBT preparation to standardized iBT test materials.

Supplement your formal classroom studies of the iBT with English practice in the real world— reading, listening, writing and speaking English as often as you can—ideally every day. It requires sacrifice to spend less time reading Japanese language newspapers and magazines and listening to Japanese language TV in order to make time available for your intensive study of English.

You should also recognize that language ability is developed steadily over time. When you are starting iBT preparation from a zero base you may experience a quick initial jump in your test score, but then the harder work begins, to build your capability to reach your targets in time. Unless you immerse in English you may find it difficult to achieve the iBT level you need to gain admission to the leading, most competitive schools.

Time management is always a challenge but there are ways to make the most efficient use of your time.

For example, when you are riding the trains, or at home, listen to iPod broadcasts to develop your English listening ability. Among the best iPod broadcasts are those of Scientific American magazine. You can listen to 60-second Science, 60-second Mind (psychology) and 60-second Earth (environment) podcasts, and they are available with transcripts to check your understanding:

You can subscribe to these podcasts via RSS or iTunes. They are fast-paced broadcasts that simulate the lectures you will be expected to comprehend in Task 6 of the iBT. Take a look at the transcripts and you will find that the topics and reading difficulty provide excellent training for GMAT reading, so you are building skills concurrently for GMAT as well.

iBT integrated listening, speaking, reading exercise

Here’s an exercise you can try when at home using Scientific American podcasts. You will want to read out loud. This may seem funny at first, but speaking out loud is necessary to get your mouth and tongue moving.

1.       Listen to any Scientific American 60-second podcast.

2.       Take notes as you listen to the podcast.

3.       Summarize the main points of the podcast verbally in a loud, clear voice.

4.       Now read the transcript of the podcast, also in a loud, clear voice.

5.       Listen to the podcast again to check your listening comprehension, referring to the transcript as needed.

iBT Integrated listening, speaking and writing exercise

To develop your listening and written ability in English using podcasts, try this exercise. It is aimed at teaching you to write one paragraph that summarizes the main theme in a thesis statement and the supporting points of the podcast.

1.      Listen to any Scientific American 60-second podcast.

2.      Take notes as you listen to the podcast.

3.      Referring to your notes, summarize out loud what you heard, first stating the main point and then stating whatever support you can remember for that point in the podcast.

4.      Now write one sentence that you believe is a good main theme sentence or thesis statement, using this prompt:

This talk is about……..

5.      Suppose you wrote this sentence based on the podcast you heard:

This talk is about science.

Is it a good thesis statement?

Nope, much too general.

How about this sentence?

This talk is about the environment.

Is it a good thesis statement?

Well, it is better, but still too general.

How about this thesis statement?

This talk is about the destructive impact of deforestation on our environment, our Earth, our only home.

Notice that this sentence is much better. If it were the only sentence someone read, or listened to, that reader or listener would have a clear idea of what the talk is about.

6.      Now you are ready to write your summary paragraph.

Deforestation is destroying our environment, the Earth, our only home, leading to famine and severe water shortages. (thesis statement)

7.      You complete your paragraph with supporting detail from your notes.

Deforestation is destroying our environment, the Earth, our only home, leading to famine and severe water shortages. Every month a part of our rain forests the size of the state of New Jersey is wiped out by greedy people. As a result, the air we breathe becomes less fresh, the land is not farmed and water sources eventually dry up. Already in India, people wait hours to get water trucked in to help them survive. We must stop destroying our only home now!

You can check with what you wrote against the transcript of the podcast provided by Scientific American.

And guess what? When you do this exercise, you are developing your writing ability, training for the iBT speaking section (task 6) and for the listening sections of the test as well.

That’s multi-tasking and a good use of your limited time.

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2011 Warren J. Devalier