Maria worked hard as she completed her TOEFL Course and scored 113/120.

It had sure been a long road completing her online TOEFL course, but, as she stared at her 113/120, Maria asked herself a question:  “Was it worth it?”

Learning the 1,700 academic words took a lot of time because she created a note-card system to learn the words. In addition, Maria downloaded the audio files of all the TOEFL words so she could listen to them on her way to work every morning. And what about all the vocabulary quizzes she had to take so that she could further master the definition, synonyms, and antonyms? Only God knows how much time she spent doing that.

Then Maria had to complete two pre-tests and a post-test so that her TOEFL mentor could diagnose her intelligibility weaknesses and recommend lessons to help her improve.  In all, she completed more than 48 pronunciation videos and completed additional voice recordings so that she could monitor her vowel and consonant sound production, syllable division and grammatical word endings, word stress, sentence rhythm, thought groups, and blending. Who knows how many different recording she made in order to practice her pronunciation of American English. Probably more than 25 hours!

Once finished with the pronunciation section of “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” she tackled the grammar lessons so that she could minimize the number of errors she would make during the independent and integrated speaking and writing tasks. While a lot of her friends were at the movies, Maria was at home studying grammar. Boring!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maria was eager to begin studying the listening and reading sections of the course because they were her strong points, and she knew she would score high when she was ready to take the official TOEFL. Still, she wanted to keep her academic English skills sharp since the TOEFL is such a difficult and unforgiving exam.  She completed 40 listening practice tests, and 70 speed reading practice tests, eventually improving her reading speed to 325 words per minute–with 80% comprehension. Now at her new reading speed, Maria could read a 300 page book in just a few days. She thought about how much time she could now save due to her having increased her reading speed.

Then Maria attacked the writing and speaking sections of the course and eventually completed 30 independent and 20 integrated speaking tasks, each time getting 3-10 minutes of audio feedback from an iBT specialist who told her everything that she was doing wrong. It was hard for her to hear!  Similarly, she completed 10 independent and 10 integrated writing practice tests, again with score and feedback allocated by a TOEFL specialist.  It took every part of her brain to complete these tasks with optimal concentration.

Through it all–the sweat, the blood, and the tears; all the frustration and time spent finishing this course; not being able to hang out with friends late into the night;  and feeling isolated from others because of being so focused on the TOEFL. “Yes, it was worth it,” she thought since now the doors of opportunity were as wide open as the Pacific Ocean.

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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