Founded in 2008 by materials writer and owner Michael Buckhoff, the Online TOEFL Course “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT (STEALTH)” has been servicing 1000’s of students from almost every corner of the world. Already having taught international students for 20 years, Buckhoff started his Online TOEFL Course as an extension of his ESL teaching to those students who cannot afford to travel to the USA to learn in Intensive English Programs.
Unlike TOEFL prep courses like Magoosh, TestDen, or ETS, STEALTH, more than a collection of TOEFL reading, listening, speaking, and writing practice test, does not just offer test-taking strategies; instead, the course comprises more than 700+ vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, reading, speaking, and writing lessons carefully crafted to help students improve their English proficiency not only to score high on the TOEFL exam but also to be able to competently use English in professional, academic, and personal situations for the rest of their lives.
In addition, another stark difference that STEALTH has from many TOEFL preparation courses is its pronunciation, speaking, and writing practice that it offers enrolees. For example, students who join STEALTH can complete two pronunciation pre-tests in this course: the first one to diagnose problems with vowel and consonant sounds and the second one to pinpoint any problems that students have with syllable division and grammatical word endings, word stress, sentence rhythm, intonation, and thought groups and blending. After each STEALTH student completes a pre-test, he/she will e-mail the audio file to a TOEFL pronunciation specialist who listens to, diagnoses specific intelligibility issues, and provides feedback by telling him/her on which pronunciation lessons to focus.
Furthermore, students can also send independent and integrated speaking practice tests to TOEFL speaking mentors who will listen to, evaluate, score the responses from 0 to 30 points, and pinpoint, through audio feedback, specific delivery, language use, and topic development issues that are hurting the students speaking fluency. Finally, STEALTH also offers its enrolees a space online in which they can complete independent and integrated writing practice tests, after which TOEFL writing mentors read, evaluate, score, and provide written comments justifying the score given. After every writing practice test, these TOEFL writing mentors will contact the students by e-mail letting them know how they scored. During the month of which STEALTH subscribers are members, they can send a speaking and writing practice test every 24 hours, so it is entirely possible that these students can send dozens of speaking and writing practice tests to TOEFL mentors, all the while getting audio and written feedback so that these students can understand their speaking and writing weaknesses. All of these services, most of which many TOEFL prep course do not offer, are given to students at comparable prices of course like Magoosh and TestDen.
STEALTH has also differentiated itself from online TOEFL tutor sites like Jamie Miller and Corey, the TOEFL Professor, specifically in terms of delivery of product. Jamie Miller offers face-to-face tutorial services to her students, and she offers several qualified and well-trained tutors who meet with the enrolled students online to help them address speaking and writing issues that they have. On the other hand, STEALTH TOEFL pronunciation, speaking, and writing mentors never meet in real time with their students. Instead, STEALTH students e-mail the pronunciation and speaking audio files to the mentors who will listen, evaluate, and provide audio or video feedback about 24 hours after having gotten the audio files. Similarly, students complete their writing practice tests online at the STEALTH web site, and, the next day, the TOEFL writing mentors read, evaluate, score, and then contact the students by e-mail to provide feedback on why these students are receiving the scores that they are getting.
TOEFL tutor sites and STEALTH are also different when it comes to price. For instance, Jamie Miller has several tutors that are qualified to teach students TOEFL preparation online. One hour of tutorial instruction can cost students anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars an hour depending on which tutor is hired by the student. At other sites, students can hire tutors for as little as $35 an hour. Obviously, that can get really expensive quickly for international students, many of whom are on a tight budget. In contrast, STEALTH can offer its services much cheaper since the TOEFL pronunciation, speaking, and writing specialists do not have to meet in real time with their students. In fact, STEALTH students can join for as little as $45 a month, which includes unlimited access to all 700+ TOEFL lessons and the opportunity to complete speaking and writing lessons daily. STEALTH has kept tight control of its prices since the exchange rate between the dollar and the currency from which these students reside is not the same. Charging students excessively high prices to improve their TOEFL scores, STEALTH believes, in a form of social injustice. Thus, STEALTH makes every effort to keep its prices as low as possible. In addition to keeping costs down, not having to meet with students online in real time also offers flexibility to those students who join STEALTH, which teaches students from more than 60 countries around the world. These students can complete the TOEFL lessons at their own pace and do not have to get up at in the early hours of their days to meet with a tutor to discuss their pronunciation, speaking, and writing practice tests that are being submitted.
And that is the niche that STEALTH has been able to corner in the TOEFL prep market. It is somewhere in between a TOEFL test prep course and TOEFL face-to-face online tutors. STEALTH is actually very similar to an English language program which offers intensive English instruction to intermediate to advanced level students. However, instead of having to pay 1000’s of dollars in tuition fees this English Language Programs, STEALTH offers its services for as little as $45 monthly.