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How Do I Score Well on TOEFL® Grammar?

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  • Written By: Gabriele Sturmer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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The Test of English as a Foreign Language® (TOEFL®) exam comes in both computer-based and paper versions and covers topics in English grammar, speaking, reading and writing. The TOEFL® grammar section is the second part of the exam and covers broad areas of English sentence structure and usage; however, those required grammar skills also are critical for the other parts of the exam. Sample topics include the parts of speech, verb tenses, clauses and sentence styles. A combination of reviewing these topics and performing practice exercises will help you score well.

Basic sentence structure and parts of speech are the first topics covered in the TOEFL® grammar exam. You'll need to be able to use prepositions, subjects, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions properly in a set of multiple-choice questions. The questions usually display a sentence with a missing word or phrase, and you'll need to select one of four answers that would be used correctly in the sentence. Many websites specializing in the TOEFL® have free grammar exercises that can help master these topics, and some even have a diagnostic test. If you don't feel confident after using some of these exercises, you can try a basic grammar book that explains the topics clearly and shows examples.

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The TOEFL® grammar section also tests your ability to use different types of phrases and clauses, including participial phrases, introductory clauses, adverbial clauses, infinitive phrases and gerund phrases. You'll need to know how to correctly place the items at the end or beginning of a sentence by avoiding dangling modifiers and other misplaced statements. Grammar workbooks designed for the TOEFL® are the best tools for practicing this section, although many online resources exist. You also can try looking on the website of a high school or college's English department or performing a web search on the type of phrase or clause that is giving you trouble.

The final area in the TOEFL® grammar section covers sentence consistency and design and especially deals with using parallelism in your sentences. Some example topics include using the proper verb tense for compound sentences, using the correct pronouns to replace nouns, using gerunds properly in a list and correctly using conjunctions to join parts of a sentence. Some of these topics can overlap the section on phrases and clauses; therefore, the grammar workbooks and websites that help you prepare for that section can usually offer help for this one, too.

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