Asiri begins his TOEFL course with a flaming desire to succeed.

Asiri, a name I will never forget, is taking my TOEFL course right now and refuses to give up. Once new users begin their preparation studies, I challenge them to complete one speaking practice test every day that they are subscribed to my service. Thus far, he has taken four independent speaking practice tests, with scores of 15, 16, 16, 19, so Asiri seems committed to this challenge.

On his first speaking practice test, he did not create a focused topic statement to begin his speech, resulting in his speech having a loose organization and making it difficult to finish the speech within the 45 second time constraint. Although he did use supporting details, he did not organize them under a controlling theme. In addition, he had difficulties with his delivery, most notably his inability to vary his tone.  This is why he scored 15/30 points.

On his second attempt at completing an independent speaking task, he was able to create a sharply-focused topic statement, thereby helping to create a more coherent response. However, twenty seconds into his speech, he lost his train of thought for a few seconds before getting back on task with his response. Furthermore, he continued to speak in a monotone voice.  For these reasons, he scored 16/30 points.

On this third attempt at completing an independent speaking practice test, he maintained a coherent organization, but, with the second point of his speech, he drew a blank and was unable to provide any supporting details. Moreover, he continued to speak in a monotone voice which required listener effort to understand his ideas. Due to these difficulties, he scored 16/30 points again.

On his fourth attempt, he continued to coherently organize his ideas with a sharply-focused topic statement, and he restated those key points in the body of the speech, hence making it easy to understand how his ideas were connected.  There were, however, some minor problems with his grammar and vocabulary use; still, he was making progress.  And, even though he varied his intonation during this speaking task, he was varying it in all the wrong places–sometimes using rising inflection at the end of statements and wh-questions, other times using falling intonation in yes/no questions. Still, that he was able to vary his intonation indicated that he had gotten out of the mud pit that had been dragging him down for so long.  He was not speaking in a monotone voice anymore.

So it goes with Asiri, who is determined to improve his speaking proficiency with a  goal of 26/30 points. Even though he has not reached that goal yet, because of his marked determination and practice, I believe it will only be a matter of time before he succeeds.  I have seen other students of his caliber, all of whom were able to successfully pass the test.  Yes, Asiri, you will pass the TOEFL iBT…

This article was written by Michael Buckhoff–co-founder and materials writer for Better TOEFL Scores and The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT, Composition and Linguistics Professor, TOEFL Specialist, ESL Master Instructor, and Placement and Testing Coordinator for California State University, San Bernardino.Follow more posts and videos from Michael at Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.




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