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Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn

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Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn
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The Bottom Line

Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn is a unique guide to how to take the TOEIC. The books in this series focus on strategy. In other words, if you or your students want to learn how to take the test successfully, Master the TOEIC: Strategies is an essential book to own. Master the TOEIC: Strategies delves into all the details such as how to skim and scan, how to evaluate questions and answers, where to look for clues, etc. Master the TOEIC: Strategies does NOT focus on grammar explanations, vocabulary lists, etc.

As the TOEIC is a test that essentially sets up all kinds of traps, strategy is essential. Rather than taking endless practice tests, reading and applying the clearly explained techniques in Master the TOEIC: Strategies should lead to improved scores for TOEIC test takers.

Pros

  • Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn teaches HOW to take the exam
  • Strategies are no-nonsense and cover not only language, but also mental and physical aspects
  • Each exercise type is looked in depth with specific strategies provided
  • Strategies include example questions and documents found on the TOEIC exam
  • Written with humor and an honest assessment of some of the more bothersome aspects of the exam

Cons

  • Master the TOEIC: Strategies needs to be used in conjunction with other instructional books
  • URLs (web site addresses) in the book may go out of date quickly

Description

  • Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn begins with general exam taking strategies that will raise students' awareness to the need for these strategies.
  • No-nonsense tips to test taking include such nuggets as a recommended study schedule.
  • The series can be used for self-study purposes, or in the classroom. The Master the TOEIC: Strategies series includes a self-study book, a student workbook and a teacher's guide.
  • The second, and most important, section of each book provides specific strategies on what to look for in each exercise.
  • Numerous examples provide documents and examples of typical exercises on which strategies are explained in more depth.
  • The series includes practice exercises for learning the strategies, rather than to practice taking the exam. Further exam practice materials are required.

Guide Review - Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn

Over the years, I've taught many exam preparation courses for the TOEFL, TOEIC and Cambridge Exams. These courses tended towards teaching students to look for the traps to then take numerous practice activities and, finally, practice exams. It always seemed like I was giving short shrift to test taking strategy. General strategies were applied to each of the exercises, but there was no real guide to these strategies available.

Master the TOEIC: Strategies by Chris Quinn changes all that. Finally, here is a guide on HOW to take tests. It's not your standard book that provides grammar explanations and vocabulary lists, as well as hundreds of practice questions and quizzes. Rather, the Master the TOEIC: Strategies series focuses on learning how to actually take the TOEIC. What should you look for? Where are the traps? How should you approach each type of exercise. It is all very meta, but understanding strategy is what leads to success on exams like the TOEIC.

There are three books in the Master the TOEIC: Strategies series: A self-study book, a teacher's guide and a student workbook. I reviewed copies of the self-study book and the student workbook. The main difference was that the self-study guide provided explanations that one would expect a teacher would provide in a classroom setting. The student workbook is ideal for schools providing TOEIC exam preparation courses.

The first section of the book provides some brilliant advice on general test taking strategy, as well as specific strategies for the TOEIC. Other exam classes could easily adapt these tips and strategies for their individual courses. Some of these tips seem rather obvious, but then again they may not be obvious to learners. The book begins with the most important strategy:

Become Sherlock Holmes

This is followed by an introduction to why an investigative approach to each exercise type is essential to success on the test. Other tips follow this no-nonsense approach. The majority of the books take a look at each exercise type. A wonderful touch is a quiz at the end of each exercise strategy section testing the specific strategic steps involved in successfully completing that exercise.

This is a guide that is meant to be used with other, more mainstream, publications such as all the practice test guides. As such, I'd recommend the use of Master the TOEIC: Strategies in conjunction with plenty of practice exercises so that you can apply the strategies taught in the series.

Chris Quinn is a colleague at PELA (Portland English Language Academy) where Kenneth Beare is currently teaching English. A review copy of the self-study guide and student workbook was provided to the reviewer.
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