Why this TOEFL student scored 20/30 pts. on her writing task

As a TOEFL writing and speaking specialist and as the owner of “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” I have graded 1000’s of speaking and writing tasks.  Today, in this post, I will share with you a practice test submitted by one of my online TOEFL course students. She scored 3.0/5.0 or 20/30 pts., and her response was based on the following writing prompt:

Topic: People have different ways of escaping the stress and difficulties of modern life. Some read; some exercise; others work in their gardens. What do you think are the best ways of reducing stress? Use specific details and examples in your answer.

Here is what she wrote:

In 21st century, where everyone is in the race of success. Everyone has to face different kind of challenges to be successful. Competition makes the world more challenging and that creates stress. One of the major issue in today’s generation is depression. Youth is becoming more competitive these days, which is good for new innovation and growth of the nation but at the same time, they can not digest even small downfall and leads to depression. Moreover, one has to work hard to earn money and stay in position at work place. Stress of work, job, money etc. has increased a lot these days. One can not escape from hard work which follows by stress but one can surely work to alleviate the stress. Quality reading, exercise and outdoor activities are best stress relieving factors for me.

“Books are best friends”. I really admire this saying. Habit of good reading makes your life better. Positive thinking is really important in hard times. I have a habit to keep one book always with me. It reduces the stress and inspire you for more challenges. Reading gives me peace of mind, does not matter what kind of material I read. So, inspiration reading is necessary to keep you inspired but at the same time some fun reading relieves stress, too. For me, whenever I feel stress I pick one book and start reading, makes me forget all stress.

Secondly, exercise and outdoor activities are my keys to stay mentally healthy. I personally prefer to exercise as outdoor activities. Fresh air gives you good oxygen and ultimately fresh mind. I prefer to go for biking a lot. In addition, I like to play outdoor game like volleyball. It really reduces my work stress and help to make more friends. I consider exercise as a prayer.

In conclusion, one can not run away from responsibilities and that will create some kind of stress, but how to handle that stress is in your hand. I keep my life healthy both mentally and physically by keeping a habit of good reading. IN addition I prefer to go outdoor whenever I get chance.

Here are my error correction comments about her writing practice test (You can also see the edited version of this essay in the comment box below the video:

What can be learned from the feedback that I gave this student?

1.  Make sure that you provide specific details in your body paragraphs so that you show iBT human raters that you have depth and progression of thought.

2. Write focused, arguable topic sentences, around which you unify the rest of the paragraphs in your essay.

3. If you cannot think of a real life example, then you should imagine one, which is what I did the video.

4.  Getting feedback from a TOEFL writing specialist can help you to find your errors so that you can improve your TOEFL writing score.

Good luck!

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com


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