Context in Section 5

For this blog entry, I want to talk a little bit about Section 5 of the TOEIC test. As I have said in two or three of our previous entries, our major objective in Section 5 is to get as many marks as possible… as quickly as possible. This will allow us to save time that we can then use in Section 7, which is much more intense and time consuming. This approach can be taken as given, because it is an established technique for TOEIC. However, to make the most of it, we need to be sure how to get the best out of the questions in Section 5.
To maximise section 5 we are going to look at using context. Specifically, we are going to break this down into two sections:
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
The first point I wish to make is that it is important to identify which type of question you are being asked to answer. This makes it a lot easier to then identify the best way to go about it. So, how do you know if you are looking at a grammar question or a vocabulary question? The simple answer to this one is to look not at the question, but at the answers. If the answers are all of a similar type of word – such as a noun or an adjective – then you are probably looking at a vocabulary question. If the words are different structures (nouns/verbs/adjectives) or they are different forms of a verb, then you are probably looking at a grammar questions.
So, once you have identified the type of question you are looking at, what do you need to do? How is the approach different? Essentially, the overall tactic is the same. You need to look at each question for clues to the answer. However, the things we are searching for are different. Here are a few pointers:
  • If you have a selection of forms of the same verb, it is a good idea to look in the question for a hint on the time. This can help you pick the correct tense. Look for times dates or written forms that give a hint as to the time.
  • When you have verbs in your answer choices, always look for the auxiliary. The auxiliary will tell you about the tense and the form of the verb you will need. If you identify an auxiliary verb it becomes far easier to eliminate incorrect choices and deduce the correct ones.
  • When you have identified a vocabulary question, think about the context and look for words that either go together or are opposites. Think about how the question and the answers relate. Always look for words that have a relationship.
These are just three simple ways of making the questions in Section 5 just that little bit easier.