Why did I start blogging? And What does it have to do with TOEFL? Wait, what is TOEFL?

For scientific researchers, gaining and passing knowledge is not only an ever-going activity, but also an corner stone. In the field of computer science, knowledge is mainly and widely available in English. So, having a very good command of English is a must. As a researcher, you use English in your day-to-day activities. For example, discussing ideas with your fellows, reading literature, writing down your own thoughts and ultimately publishing your scientific contributions. Not to mention that in order for a researcher to get admitted in a world-class research group, he/she needs to skill in English- spoken, and more importantly, written.

Proficiency in English is tested and standardized by benchmark exams. The two most widely-know ones are: TOEFL and IELTS. The former is provided by a US institute, while the latter is provided by a British, hence the differences in the language style tested by both. Nonetheless, both are widely accepted by the research institutes.

It just so happens that I am familiar with TOEFL than IELTS. Also, it happens that I passed TOEFL more than one time. However, the main conclusion after passing 3 TOEFL exams in the last 3 years is that I need to work on the writing skills. In the last exam, these were my grades in reading, listening, speaking and writing: 29, 30, 26, 23 out of 30, receptively. On one hand, I am not so concerned about the speaking skill. I consider it way above average. The reason may be I was blessed to live in England for 2 years. During which, my communication skills have significantly improved. On the other hand, it is the writing skill that worries me the most. In sum, I scored 108 out of 120 in the exam. I lost 12 points, 7 of them in only writing. Beside the TOEFL score, other evidences alerted me about my poor writing skills. For instance, I faced hardships writing technical reports while studying MSc. For writing up short reports (~3-4 pages), this was not a big deal. But for writing the long MSc thesis (~50-60 pages), it was a significant burden.

So, I came up with a plan to improve writing skill. From now on, I will write a non-trivial, informative, well-articulated weekly post about something I know. The post will fall into one of the following 3 categories:

  1. Literature: to summarize a book I read recently.
  2. Technical: about programming languages, libraries or tips and tricks.
  3. Scientific: discuss a research idea or an approach to a scientific problem.

Only time will can till if this initiative will last and will be fruitful or not. Until then, let me try!

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