TOEFL biology: a topic-based cluster of materials

I find topic-based (not skill-based) approach to TOEFL the easiest to handle and the most beneficial for the students as the lack of vocabulary is the primary concern, as I feel it.

Provided you equip the students with the right inventory of words, they will be cracking reading and listening, as well as speaking questions 4 and 6, way better. However, planning your syllabus around a topic means you have to browse lots of materials as most TOEFL preparation coursebooks tend to me skill- and strategy- focused, which I find less effective. Hence, I’ll be sharing my “clusters” of links and materials I have already compiled to make some teacher’s life easier.

Any TOEFL test-taker is almost bound to face a text or a lecture on biology. In my 2-months preparation courses I tend to focus on the most likely (and complex, and life-important)  topics first (Education, Campus vocabulary, Biology (+Psychology + Medicine), Environment, + Business, (+Money).

Here’s the cluster of materials dealing with biology that worked well for my students.

1. – I use sets 6, 9, 11, 21 only. This is a free resource and you can create wordlist, print out flash-cards, create customisable quizzes. Full of other topical sets. Extremely useful. I do not start with the list. rather, I use it to reinforce, test and fill the gaps in the students’ knowledge after/while studying the next materials.

2. – a great set of worksheets to START the module with. I chose the following:

Concept Review: Photosynthesis and Respiration 

Concept Review: Mammals Are Us

Concept Review: Classifying Plants

Concept Review: Building Blocks

– I find those less specialist, being of general interest and containing really useful, core vocabulary.
(to be continued …)


5 comments on “TOEFL biology: a topic-based cluster of materials

  1. Hello Kate,

    I’ve bookmarked your blog and will certainly return. I’m teaching TOEFL iBT at a university in Japan. I like what you are doing and we like a lot of the same people: Marcos, Scott, Jason, Ken, etc.

    Keep up the good work,


  2. Ann says:

    Thanks for this really helpful post. Have linked to it on the TeachingEnglish facebook page so that our more than 16,000 readers/contributors can benefit from it.

    Feel free to post there yourself when you have anything you’d like to share.



  3. Anonymous says:

    thank you for your resource!! I gonna take the toefl ibt test in Dec and I really appreciate your information!

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