I ran a mental half marathon today.
It's called the TOEIC LR Test.
For many business people in Japan it's simply known as TOEIC.
It's made up of two sections: listening and reading.
There are 100 questions in each section.
The test lasts across the span of roughly two hours.
In the listening section you mark your answers
as you listen to a recording for 45 to 46 minutes depending on the text form.
In the reading section it's up to each test-taker
how they use the testing time of 75 minutes.
In the past I would finish the reading section
with nearly ten minutes, or sometimes more,
remaining. Not to mean that my reading is fast and accurate,
but simply it was possible.
In May of last year, however, the test format was slightly changed.
It's a great improvement, in my opinion.
You are now required to read most passages more thoroughly, fast,
and accurately in order to answer questions in the long-passage part: Part 7.
I love the change as it makes it hard for cheaters
to score well who try to score more by test-taking techniques irrelevant to real-life reading skills than by their real-life reading ability.
Anyhow, in the past two tests in the new format,
I didn't have much time left.
But today I finished the reading section
with a good 5 minutes remaining.
No cheating whatsoever in that I simply read all the passages
from top to bottom, and answer the questions after that,
except on several occasions I checked only the first question,
hoping that it would allow me to navigate my reading smoothly.
But I soon realized that it wasn't so.
Going back and forth between a passage and questions
was distracting. So I did the entire triple passages by first reading all of the passage, and then next answering the questions. It worked like a charm for me.
Next week when I meet my students in class, I would like to share with them this experience of mine.
All in all, it was a great experience. I feel my reading is significantly much faster than before. But at the same time the test allowed me to realize my weaknesses also. Vocabulary and fluency in spoken English are some of them. In my profession, which is teaching, I'm not so much required to speak fast and fluent.
In fact, it is exactly the opposite that is needed: to enunciate clearly and speak slowly enough so that my students can understand my instructions. But I can make this an excuse for my inability to improve on fluency. I will try to come with with a solution.