Marium joins a TOEFL course so that she can have all her essays corrected by an iBT writing specialist.

Marium joined a TOEFL course called “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT” so that she could improve her writing score which always floated around 20-22 points. It was not long before she started learning the independent and integrated lessons in her course after which she took her first independent writing practice test. Sure enough, she received about the same score she had been getting on the actual TOEFL iBT: 22 points. Her TOEFL writing mentor Michael Buckhoff gave her some comments about her score and invited her to take advantage of an additional error correcting service.

The service was quite simple: she simply needed to complete a practice test, and Michael, using screen capture video technology, would rewrite her essay showing her 1) what errors she was making, 2) how she could correct those errors, and 3) how she could avoid them during the iBT writing section. Of course, she took advantage of the additional service, and, after completing six independent writing practice tests, she noticed some patterns emerging in her writing.

First of all, she was having sentence structure problems in that she would combine some of her sentences together with no punctuation (run-on), she would combine other sentences together with commas (comma splice), and she would sometimes put a period after a group of words which did not have a subject and a verb in the independent clause (fragment).  Three common types of sentence structure errors, the run-on, comma splice, and fragment errors were rather frequent and troublesome in her TOEFL writing. However, Michael had her complete some writing and editing practice exercises which helped her to eliminate those errors in the last four independent writing practice tests.

Second of all, after she completed three integrated writing practice tests, her TOEFL mentor showed her that she was having some points of view shifts in her writing. Given that the purpose of an integrated writing task is to summarize, explain, and show the relationship between a reading passage and a lecture, she should have been writing from the perspective of the two sources: the third person singular.  But instead of using statements like “It it learned from the reading passage that…”, or “the lecture contradicts….”, she was explaining the information without acknowledging where it was coming from.  Michael told her that what she was doing was a form of plagiarism and that the TOEFL iBT human raters would frown on her writing because of that.

Finally, upon completing ten independent and ten integrated writing practice tests, and getting 8 hours of video feedback from her TOEFL mentor who showed her all the errors that she had made, how she could correct them, and how she could avoid them in future writing tasks, Marium developed a confidence in her writing that would help her succeed long after re-taking the TOEFL iBT.

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