Will Moloco be able to use her TOEFL course to improve her academic writing proficiency?

“Geez! There is so much I have to remember about writing in this TOEFL course,” thought Moloco, “that I will never be able to score 24/30.”  Of course negativity was getting the best of her in this moment of weakness, and then she remembered the acronym that Michael had told her about P.A.C.E.: Positive Attitude Changes Everything. Redirecting her frustrations in a more positive direction, she thought, “Ok, what do I need to do to improve my writing proficiency.”  From the feedback just provided by her TOEFL writing mentor, she knew that she needed to study lessons in the vocabulary, grammar, and writing sections of “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.”  “But how does she eat the elephant?” you ask, of course the metaphor representing how she should tackle all those seemingly endless lessons.  The answer is, “One bite at a time.”  That is exactly what she did.

First, she went back to the vocabulary section to reacquaint herself with the advanced TOEFL words. She reviewed them and listened to the audio files of the words on her iPOD to help her remember them for all time. Second, she studied the grammar lessons, and, at the advice of her iBT specialist, reviewed syntactic variety, punctuation, and parallel structure. She even completed hundreds of practice exercises designed to reinforce what she had studied, thus making it more likely that she would use the newly acquired lexis and structures in her writing.

In addition to solving vocabulary and grammar issues, she moved on to the writing section of the course, and, again under the direction of her online language teacher, studied targeted lessons to make her paragraphs more coherent by using four cohesive devices in her writing. Two of the techniques she had already heard of but had not used. The other two techniques she had not heard of.  Nevertheless,  the instruction made a lot of sense to her, and it was easy to understand, and she knew these techniques would make her writing more academic and professional, two end results for which she had earnestly been seeking.

All of the review took her approximately two weeks, and then it was time for her to be thrown back to the wolves, which is to say she needed to take another writing practice test to see if she had made progress. About 12 hours after having taken the writing practice test, she got an e-mail from her personal iBT specialist who informed her that she had scored 27/30!  She was delighted and knew that she had solved the writing problems that had been crippling her TOEFL score for months.

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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