Esra’s TOEFL course is improving her writing proficiency.

Esra knew that she needed to take an online TOEFL course. Conventional language cram schools cost 1000’s of dollars a term, and they required her to occupy a seat in a classroom with many distractions.  However, Esra was on a tight budget, so she did not have a lot of money to spend. Additionally, she wanted a distraction free environment that allowed her to study her lessons anytime and anywhere so long as she had a reliable Internet connection.  Fortunately, she came across a web site called, which offered “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.”

The low-priced service offers more than 330 lessons in seven essential areas: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, reading, writing, and speaking, with pronunciation, writing, and speaking practice tests scores allocated by an MA TESOL TOEFL iBT specialist.  What more could she ask for? She could study the lessons at her convenience, and, when she was ready, she could submit her practice tests online, and a TOEFL specialist would provide her written, audio, and video feedback to help her improve her pronunciation, writing, and speaking proficiency. Generally, she would receive feedback within about 24 hours which was even faster than that provided by conventional cram schools.

Of course, Esra’s main concern was to improve her independent and integrated writing scores on the TOEFL since that would be her weakest part.  Once she started taking her writing practice tests, Esra was told by her TOEFL iBT specialist that she was having sentence structure and grammar problems that were causing her essay to score 3.0/5.0 or 20/30 pts.

Furthermore, the TOEFL iBT specialist told Esra that she needed to provide more details to support her main points, that it was sometimes difficult to understand the connection of her ideas, and that she had a limited range of sentence structures and vocabulary.  But that was not the end of her specialist’s help who also told her to review vocabulary lessons 4, grammar lesson 1.1, and writing lesson 3.1.  Now Esra knew what she needed to do to improve her writing score. Never before had she received specific diagnostic feedback on her writing.  Never before had she been given specific lessons to correct her writing problems.

Of course, Esra studied the recommended lessons and continued to submit practice tests. In fact, she completed all the practice tests in her online course: 10 independent and 10 integrated tasks. Each time Esra got a score allocated from a TOEFL iBT specialist who continued to motivate and support her while she was completing the practice tests. To Esra’s satisfaction, upon completion of the writing portion of her course, she was scoring 3.75-4.0 or 24-25 pts on the independent and integrated writing tasks.  Based on this input, Esra was ready to take the TOEFL iBT, but this time she would do much better on the writing tasks.

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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