Tag Archives: TOEFL iBT Grammar

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“Hi Michael,

I retook the TOEFL iBT on 12th May and got the desired score – 116 (R30, L30, S26, W30). I thank you for all the speaking practice tests and comments that helped me boost my speaking score.

Thanks,
VSS”

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“Hey Michael,
I just got my TOEFL score – 113 overall, and I’m thrilled about it. (Writing/Reading – 29, Listening – 28, Speaking – 27). I want to thank you for your great tutoring – you really helped me a lot. I used your service for about a month, and that made all the difference – your input and guidance really helped me do all the right things. I think your service can help anyone at any level, since you make sure your students focus on what they require the most. So, once again, Thank you!
Tal.”

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TOEFL Integrated Speaking and Writing: Simple Present or Present Progressive?

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!”

www.bettertoeflscores.com In an answer to one of this Online TOEFL students, Michael Buckhoff, founder of Better TOEFL Scores, discusses 1) the uses of the simple present and the present progressive tenses. 2) why the simple present tense is a more appropriate choice within the context of completing the TOEFL iBT integrated speaking and writing tasks.

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TOEFL iBT Grammar: Choosing an Appropriate Point of View

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam”

What point of view will you choose when completing TOEFL iBT speaking and writing tasks?
What point of view will you choose when completing TOEFL iBT speaking and writing tasks?

Listen to this post: pronounshifts

Huge problems with point of view shifts in my TOEFL and in my college composition classes warrant a thorough discussion of why consciously choosing an appropriate point of view BEFORE you start writing or speaking will dramatically reduce the number of errors in your TOEFL iBT independent and integrated speaking and writing tasks.

In writing and speaking, you may choose among the following pronouns:

Subject Pronouns

I we

you you (all)

he, she, it they

Object Pronouns

me us

you you (all)

him, her, it them

Possessive Adjectives

my our

your your

his, her, its their

Possessive Pronouns

mine ours

yours yours

his, hers theirs

Reflexive Pronouns

myself ourselves

yourself yourselves

himself, herself, itself themselves

First of all, that you deliberately choose a point of view and stay consistent with that point of view indicates to TOEFL iBT human raters a rhetorical awareness of your speaking and writing. Second of all, you will score higher on the TOEFL iBT speaking and writing tasks since having a rhetorical awareness indicates advanced grammar knowledge and since you will have fewer errors with pronouns shifts, the act of randomly shifting pronouns.

Many speakers and writers, native and non-native speakers alike, have remarkable problems in this area. Consider the following sentence taken from my college composition class. The purpose of this part of the writing assignment is to summarize a writer named Deborah Tannen:

In “Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers,” you will learn about Tannen’s concept of meta-messages and the cultural differences between males and females.

Since the purpose of the “you” point of view is to give direct instruction to the reader, it is odd to use that point of view in a summary whose purpose is to condense a large amount of text into a smaller version. A summary focuses on the content not on directly instructing the audience. Therefore, the above sentence should be written more formally:

In “Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers,” Tannen discusses the concept of meta-messages and the cultural differences between males and females.

To conclude this blog post, consider the following tips as they apply to your TOEFL iBT speaking and writing:

1. Choose a point of view that matches the purpose of the TOEFL iBT speaking or writing task.

2. Do not randomly shift your pronouns during a TOEFL iBT speaking or writing task.

3. Record your voice regularly as you practice TOEFL iBT speaking tasks and pay particular attention to problems with pronouns. Make the necessary adjustments so that you minimize the errors you make in this area.

4. As you practice your TOEFL iBT writing tasks, you should also pay close attention to any problems with any point of view shifts.

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!”

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TOEFL iBT Grammar: Parallellism and Speaking and Writing Tasks

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

Listen to this post: toeflibtgrammarparallel-structures

Part of being a good writer and speaker of English is an attempt to make language as even and as balanced as possible. This attempt to keep language balanced is called parallel structure. The following sentence is not parallel:

  • *I like running and to hike.* incorrect
  • I like running and hiking. or I like to run and to hike. correct

In the above example the gerund “running” is parallel to “hiking,” and, in the second example, the infinitive “to run” is parallel to “to hike.”

Using parallel structures during the speaking and writing portions of the TOEFL iBT will demonstrate to TOEFL iBT human raters that you have accurate control of using advanced grammar structures. In effect, you will score higher on the TOEFL iBT if you use parallel stuctures with a minimum number of errors.

Nonetheless, many languages differ in terms of their grammar structures, and these differences may cause TOEFL iBT test-takers to have numerous errors. The following two sentences exemplify a subtle error in parallel structure and a revised version of that sentence.

1. Incorrect: Not only will students complete their research papers next week but will also give an oral presentation of their findings.

2. Correct: Not only will students complete their research papers next week, but they will also give an oral presentation of their findings. Or Students will not only complete their research papers next week but will also give an oral presentation of their findings.

So, how do you improve in this area? A regular routine of reading academic English will get you more used to parallel structures. Additionally, pay close attention to your speech and writing, especially as they relate to the following troublespots: conjunctions, comparisons, two adjectives, two phrases, two clauses, and conjunctions occuring in pairs.

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Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

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TOEFL Integrated Speaking and Writing: Simple Present or Present Progressive?

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

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http://michaelbuckhoff.com/ TOEFL iBT

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation: Avoiding Irregular Word Stress Shifts with Compound Adverbs, Two Word Verbs, Two-Syllable Nouns and Verbs, Verbs with Prefixes, and Abbreviations and Symbols

Listen to this post: word_stress_part_two_and_toefl_ibt_prounuciation

To continue to improve your pronunciation of word stress, you will need to become familiar with word stress patterns of various word combinations. For example, how would you pronounce the following words: downwind, watch over, underestimate, USA, and autistic? What about conduct when used as a verb or when it is used as a noun? Would you place the primary stress in the same part of the word in both parts of speech? These are additional issues that I will focus on in my Online TOEFL Course.

Having appropriate word stress can benefit your TOEFL iBT test-taking experience three ways. First, having appropriate word stress improves your intelligibility. Second, avoiding word stress shifts ensures that your speech does not distract listeners from what you are saying. Finally, competently using word stress makes you natural-sounding. Of course, human raters, impressed by your clear, non-distracting, and natural-sounding speech, will be pleased to give you high scores on TOEFL iBT speaking.

Unfortunately, word stress poses great challenges for learners, so much so that TOEFL iBT human raters are specifically trained to pay close attention to your proficiency or lack thereof in this area. Due to inexperience with English or interference from a first language, you may be unsure what to do, for example, when two adverbs combine to form one word: northwest. Is the stress placed on the first or second word? In other cases, in words such as go through and put down, would you place stress on the first or second word?

Furthermore, if you hear reCORD, is it being used as a verb or noun? How about when someone says EXploit? Is it being used as a noun or a verb? Do you change your word stress when using nouns or verbs? There are even additional rules with word stress and verbs which have prefixes such as dehumidify, preview, and withdraw. In these examples, would you stress the prefix or the base? As you can see, there are numerous rules regarding word stress and certain word combinations, and it will take you time to get familiar with these rules.

Through my Online TOEFL Course,  you will learn word stress patterns of compound adverbs, two word verbs, two-syllable nouns and verbs, verbs with prefixes, and abbreviations and symbols. In addition, you will learn how to predict stress with suffixes and word endings: -ic, -ical, -ify, -ogy, -tion, -graphy, -ious, -ian, -ical, -ee, -eer, -ese, -esque, -ique, -ette, -et, -ate. For example, you will learn that when you see a word that ends with the ending -ee the stress is placed on the last syllable, i.e., referEE. The value of using word endings to predict stress in incalculable: by learning stress patterns of word endings, you will be able to predict word stress patterns of thousands of academic words. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Heck, I can learn this naturally by speaking regularly with native speakers.” It is true that you can learn word stress naturally, but it may take you 5-10 years before you internalize all the rules that are explicitly taught in this course.

Therefore, my Online TOEFL Course can dramatically short-cut your path to near-native speaker proficiency by giving you intensive practice with word stress in the form of listening discrimination exercises of academic sentences and paragraphs. You needn’t wait 10 years before you can win your battle with word stress. Subscribe to my Online TOEFL Course and begin reducing your word stress shifts immediately.

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Subject-Verb Agreement and TOEFL iBT Speaking and Writing

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “Give me a power-packed TOEFL lesson!”

Use correct subject-verb agreement.
Use correct subject-verb agreement.

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Your grammar will be evaluated on both TOEFL iBT speaking and writing sections. Therefore, you need to create grammatical sentence structures. One area of grammar about which you should be concerned is subject-verb agreement.

Having correct subject-verb agreement is important to TOEFL iBT speaking and writing since it demonstrates to TOEFL iBT human raters that you have control of your sentence structures. The fewer times you have trouble with subject-verb agreement, the greater the possibility you have of scoring higher on TOEFL iBT speaking and writing sections.

You must be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, Yeah, been there done that. I am an advanced learner and do not have trouble with subject-verb agreement.” Still, remember that the TOEFL iBT speaking and writing sections are taken under pressure with little time for you to think. Furthermore, in the case of TOEFL iBT speaking, you have no time to edit your speech before you answer the six speaking tasks. Even with the independent and integrated writing tasks, you have 30 and 20 minutes during which you must compose well-organized, developed, and grammatically correct writing.

Here are some basic rules surrounding subject-verb agreement:

Rule: The verb agrees with the subject, not the object of the sentence.

Incorrect: Each of the girls are going to the movies.

Revised: Each of the girls is going to the movies.

Rule: There are a few isolated cases where the verb agrees with the object. This occurs after expressions of quantity (i.e., all, most, some, half, and part.)

Incorrect: All of the book are interesting to me.

Revised: All of the book is interesting to me.

Incorrect: Some of the students is sick today.

Revised: Some of the students are sick today.

Rule: After question words, comparisons, negative expressions, place expressions, and conditions without “if,” the verb agrees with the subject, which may come after the verb.

Incorrect: On the table is the ungraded final exams.

Revised: On the table are the ungraded final exams.

Rule: Verbs are singular after certain kinds of words:

All of the these words or expressions are singular. Consequently, they require singular verbs.







anybody everybody nobody somebody
anyone everyone no one someone
anything everything nothing something
each + noun

every + noun

As you practice TOEFL iBT speaking tasks, you need to regularly record your voice so that you can monitor your subject-verb agreement and other grammatical trouble spots. Likewise, you will need to practice writing 30 and 20 minute TOEFL iBT independent and integrated writing tasks.

You should also keep in mind that your potential for making grammatical mistakes such as incorrect subject-verb agreement increases as the speaking and writing assignments become more complex. Therefore, you are more likely to make more grammatical errors on TOEFL iBT speaking tasks 4 (reading, listening, and speaking–academic) and 6 (listening and speaking–academic) since they are the most challenging of the speaking tasks. Therefore, you should monitor your grammar more closely with these speaking tasks.

Finally, since the integrated writing task is more complex than the independent writing task, you are more likely to make more grammatical errors, and, therefore, you should monitor your grammar more carefully as you practice the TOEFL iBT integrated writing tasks.

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For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “I want my lesson now!”

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