Scoring 21 pts on the writing section, Joseph joins an Online TOEFL Course and discovers three issues.

Joseph had already taken the TOEFL exam and had scored 21/30 pts on the writing section of the exam. The only section lower than his required 24 pts, the writing section was standing in his way of getting his United States pharmacy license. Because Joseph worked 30 hours a week and because he was on a limited budget, he did not want to attend an Intensive English Program or a TOEFL Cram school. As a result, he needed to find an inexpensive Online TOEFL Course that would help him solve his writing problems. Luckily, after a couple of hours of searching and evaluating various TOEFL Online Courses, he joined a course called “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.” Once subscribed to the Online TOEFL Course, he completed a writing practice test, after which he discovered three main difficulties in his writing.

First of all, Joseph had organizational problems. Unfortunately, his thesis statement did not organize his essay around the two parts of the question: “Compare the contributions of scientists with the work of artists. Then explain which is valued more by society.” His essay argued why artists were more important to society, without first comparing and contrasting the two types of workers. In addition, Joseph needed to use more transition words such as cause/effect (i.e., therefore, because, so) and compare and contrast, especially since the writing prompt was asking him to do just that (i.e., likewise, similarly, in the same manner, however, on the other hand, but).

Second of all, Joseph was not using advanced vocabulary. For example, in one of his sentences, he used the words “artist’s stuff.” Instead of the word “stuff,” he could have used “picturesque paintings, statues, and murals,” which would have more definitively described his ideas. In another case, Joseph wrote the follow two sentences: “Artists bring joy and entertainment to society. They work hard to create paintings to inspire others.” These two sentences, demonstrating two fairly short independent clauses, not a fairly complicated sentence style, could be rewritten a number of different ways in an effort to avoid being repetitious and to demonstrate a more advanced writing style: “Bringing joy and entertainment to society, artists arduously work to create inspiring paintings.”

Third of all, Joseph had a number of problems in his writing relating to basic sentence formation, punctuation, and word forms to name a few. With sentence formation, Joseph’s main problem was that he was using comma splices; that is to say, he was joining two independent clauses together with a comma when he should have used a connector or a semi-colon. Similarly, his punctuation problems were clearly manifested by his misuse of the comma and his lack of semi-colons, colons, and dashes. In the case of word forms, Joseph was having problems differentiating nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. Either he was not sure where to out the word in a sentence or he was not sure what ending the word should have. For example, instead of using the word “quickly,” he would say, “Artists quick contributed to society.”

To sum up, after Joseph took his writing practice test, he identified organizational, vocabulary, and grammar problems in his writing, and his Online TOEFL Course iBT writing specialist recommended lessons to help him improve. TOEFL Writing Lesson 8, TOEFL Vocabulary Lessons 3,4,5, and 6, and TOEFL Grammar Lessons 1 and 7 were all important lessons that Joseph would have to master before he would be able to improve his academic English proficiency. To his good fortune, there were 40 independent and 43 integrated writing practice tests that Joseph could complete to continue getting feedback and marking his academic writing proficiency progress.

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