The First Step – TOEFL :)

Yesterday’s TOEFL test was my first big step in the long process of securing a Graduate Admission in a US University :) I’ve always found personal blogs on the GRE, TOEFL and the Passport process very useful, sometimes even more useful than the official websites :) Here’s my TOEFL experience (it really is one of those unique experiences, I haven’t taken any other test that is similar to the TOEFL) in brief :)

My TOEFL Centre was Attest Testing Services, the one on Mission Road (Bangalore). If you aren’t a local or if you aren’t familiar with the area, you’ll soon discover that finding the test centre is quite a challenge :| Here’s why – The address printed in your TOEFL Confirmation mail is –

Attest Testing Services
#40 3rd Floor Foundation House,
2nd Main, Next to Ashwini Darshini Hotel
Mission Road
Land Mark -Next to Richmond Circle
BANGALORE
KA,560027

Provided you already know you’re in Bangalore (and by extension, Karnataka), you’re address is reduced to –

Attest Testing Services
#40 3rd Floor Foundation House,
2nd Main, Next to Ashwini Darshini Hotel
Mission Road
Land Mark -Next to Richmond Circle

All that remains of the Erstwhile Ashwini Darshini Hotel is now a pile of building debris. So no point in looking for this once-prominent and useful landmark.

Attest Testing Services
#40 3rd Floor Foundation House,
2nd Main,
Mission Road
Land Mark -Next to Richmond Circle

Since there is no visible Attest Testing Services signboards outside the building, and because the ‘Foundation House’ is barely visible with all the peeling paint,

#40 3rd Floor,
2nd Main,
Mission Road
Land Mark -Next to Richmond Circle

Richmond Circle is quite far away and Mission Road has a crazy numbering system :\

3rd Floor,
Mission Road

So, you’re looking for a building with at least 4 floors on Mission Road. Good. That narrows your search down to about all the  buildings :\

Asking around wasn’t of much help. Nobody seemed to know where Attest Testing Services was. As Serendipitous as I’ve been lately, a morning jogger and complete stranger recognised the abject consternation in my face and came up to me and asked “Are you Looking for Attest?”.  If ever there was a ‘Saviour’ XD After I replied in the positive, he asked me to follow him. So I did, he led me a long way away from where I was (:| What if ‘he’ hadn’t found ‘me’! :P) through a small left turn that was the “2nd Main” and an old building that was “#40”. After the customary Thanks et al, I finally walked into the test center at around 9:15 am.

In brief, to get here, after the nose of the flyover (Richmond-Mission Road) touches down, take the first left. In general, after Richmond Circle, there are no right turns, only left (when approaching FROM Richmond Circle to Mission Road). So, when in doubt, turn left XD

[EDIT (November 5, 2010) : The blog stats show quite a few visits from search results for “Attest Testing Services, Bangalore”. Here are the driving directions from Trinity Circle onwards, while approaching from the Fame Lido road:

Pass by Holy Trinity Church (on the left) for 800 m

Continue onto Gen Thimmaiah Road/Richmond Road. Pass by HDFC Bank (on the right in 1.5 km) for 1.9 km

Turn left at Parvathi Plaza onto Gen Thimmaiah Road. Pass by Aromas of China (on the left) for 350 m

Turn left at SME Consulting and Services

Attest Testing Services is on the right]

As antediluvian as the outside of the building looks, the inside is quite well furnished. The place is pretty cheerful – lots of motivational messages and posters and friendly staff. You have to do two things before the test – First, Verify your identity by showing your passport and second, write and sign a Confidentiality Agreement regarding the test questions. The test Proctor will assign you a seat. My seat was in the ‘C-room’. (The center has 5 well-furnished air-conditioned testing rooms that belongs to two TOEFL test centres – 9A and 9B)

I was looking forward to starting early. My friend who’d taken the test a few weeks back did tell me they’d allow me to start early depending on when I turned up. I wanted to finish most of my test before everyone else started speaking. Most test centres do this, allowing candidates to start on arrival and not waiting for the specified time. You can use this to your advantage – If you’d like to get an idea of the speaking topics and get the chance to prepare mentally for the speaking questions, then turn up as close to the reporting time as possible. You might want to let others check-in before you too :P

I find it difficult to work in a noisy environment. If you are like me, you’d want to turn up as early as possible :)

Tip – You might finish your reading and listening sections well before time. I had around 5 minutes left in both. Don’t be in a hurry to click on Continue, after a quick review (review option is available only in the reading part), let the time run out. Use this time to close your eyes or look to the ceiling or something. Four hours is pretty long to be staring at a bright screen. Plus, the chairs and the tables at my test centre were *too* close, adding to the eye-strain problem. So use this time relax your eyes and your overworked brain :P

There’s a ten minute break half way through the test. We are allowed to go out (of the room, not the building) and I did. Stretch those possibly cramped leg muscles. Don’t forget to go back in. :P Or if you’d rather sit back and listen to the speaking section of other people to get an idea, you can do that. Technically, it’s not cheating is it? :P ;)

Before the speaking test (also at the beginning of the test), you’ll be asked to speak on a sample speaking topic for two reasons – to check if the microphone is working and to adjust the recording volume. It is very important, therefore, to speak in the same volume that you’ll be using normally throughout the test.

The Writing part was the easiest one for me. Oh how I wish there were 6 Writing questions and only 2 Speaking questions :P I ended my essay saying “…Weathliest people aren’t really the Happiest, Are they? ;) XD”. Only after my *second* review did I realise that “;) XD” is not er… very appropriate :P  Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. :P ;) Just in time, too ;) This is not the first time. I’ve used Smilies in some of my exam answer papers :\

Also, after today’s Trilogy, my next post, in all likelihood, will be after my GRE on November 11 :)

One major step covered. Quite a few more to go, here’s me wishing me all the best for my own success :P ;) XD

“The quality of a university is measured more by the kind of student it turns out than the kind it takes in.” ~ Robert J Kibbee

EDIT: On the eve of my GRE (Nov 10), my TOEFL scores were published on the internet. I scored 113 :)

 

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3 Comments

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  1. Thanks man

    Like

  2. My TOEFL is on Dec 10.. Any tips?

    Have no prep whatsoever and somehow really really wary of the speaking section.. Man 60 seconds is too less a time to speak… :(

    Do recommend something (like a magic potion :P) that can give me a 100+ score in 3 days…

    Like

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