I am Michael Buckhoff, the founder, owner, and materials writer for “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.” I am writing this blog post for those international students who need to improve their TOEFL scores from approximately 50 to 80 points overall on the TOEFL iBT exam. Based on my 22 years of TOEFL teaching experience, I estimate that it will take 3-6 months to gain those 30 points. Therefore, what exactly should these students do in order to reach this goal?
I. Focus on the Basics
For the first three months, these students should focus on completing the vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar parts of my course. During the vocabulary section, these students will need to create a note-card study system in order to learn the 1,700 basic and college level words from Vocabulary Lessons 3-6. In addition, these students should download the audio files of the vocabulary words from lessons 4-6 and listen to them on their electronic devices daily. To test their mastery of these words, these students can take multiple choice quizzes.
As these students start the pronunciation section of my course, they should immediately complete the pronunciation pre-test for vowel and consonant sounds, after which their TOEFL pronunciation specialist will pinpoint whatever problems they might have. As these students study these video lessons, they should shadow the native speaker in the video by reading out loud slightly behind the narrator. Once they have mastered the vowel and consonant sounds, these students will then complete a second pre-test to see what problems they might have with syllable division and grammatical word endings, word stress, intonation, sentence rhythm, and thought groups and blending. Like before, they will submit a voice recording to their pronunciation specialist, who will diagnose whatever problems they might have in this area. After studying the recommended video lessons, these students will complete a post-test, and then their pronunciation specialist will give them feedback one more time on whichever lessons these students might need to review.
These students will also need to complete a grammar pre-test to see on which areas they should should focus. Like the vocabulary section of my course, these students can complete their study independently, and all these online quizzes will be scored automatically. However, whenever these students have questions about some of the grammar lessons, they can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Throughout their study with my Online TOEFL Course, these students can think of me as their TOEFL coach to assist them whenever they have questions.
I recommend that these students concurrently complete the vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar sections of my course; that is to say that they should set time aside each day to complete a lesson in each of these sections until they have completed all the lessons. For example, on day one, these students could complete Vocabulary, Pronunciation, and Grammar Lesson 1. Then they can move on to the second lesson in each of these sections and so on.
II. Complete Listening and Reading Lessons
Once these students have finished the basics, then they can move on to the listening and reading sections of my course. Again, these students can simultaneously focus on listening and reading lessons daily until they have completed these two sections. There are 40 listening practice tests and 70 speed reading practice tests in my course, hence giving students plenty of listening and reading activities. In fact, as these students do this listening and reading practice, they should work on improving their note-taking abilities and even should practice writing and speaking about these passages. For example, after listening to one of the practice tests and after completing its multiple-choice activities, these students can practice writing 150-250 word summaries of the passages and can do the same thing after completing each reading practice test in my course. Moreover, using their notes, these students can also practice speaking about the listening and reading passages in my course, and I recommend that they make 60 second recordings so that they can re-listen to their recordings to check for possible pronunciation, language use, and topic development issues. The point is that these students are starting to get more comfortable writing and speaking about listening and reading passages.
III. Now that these students have completed the vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, and reading sections of my course, they are ready to tackle the writing and speaking sections. Like before, students can complete these two sections simultaneously on a day-to-day basis. “Practice makes perfect,” as the saying goes, so these students should start completing speaking and writing practice tests almost daily so they can start getting feedback from TOEFL speaking and writing specialists. The more speaking and writing practice tests they complete, the more feedback they will get, which will help them to identify pronunciation, language use, and topic development issues that they have. In fact, based on the types of speaking and writing problems that these student have, their mentors will recommend specific lessons to help them improve. For example, if a TOEFL iBT speaking specialist notices that a student has problems with intonation, he will recommend that the student complete Pronunciation Lessons 36-40, all of which focus on intonation. Similarly, if a TOEFL writing specialist notices that a student has problems with using adjective clauses, he will recommend that the student complete Grammar Lesson 24.
IV. Once these students have completed a majority of the lessons in “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” they will need to complete a full-length TOEFL iBT Speaking Practice Test to see how close they are to reaching their goal of 80. If the practice test shows that they are close to 80, then it is time to register for the actual TOEFL exam. If their score is lower than 80, then these students need to e-mail me at email@example.com. Then based on the overall TOEFL score and the subtotals in the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections, I will re-adjust the students’ study routine to help them stay in track toward reaching their academic English language goals. And that is pretty much what someone will have to do in order to improve from a score of 50 to 80 on the TOEFL exam.