TOEFL iBT Speaking Practice: Susanna improves from 21 to 27.

Susanna took the TOEFL exam so that she could meet the license requirements to become a pharmacist in the United States.  She was shocked upon receiving her official results from Educational Testing Service: (91): Reading=22, Listening=23, Speaking=21, and Writing=25.  No doubt she had a high score, but her speaking subtotal of 21 was five points shy of her target score 26.  “What a crappy day I am having,” Susanna thought. “To have such a high score overall but to not score high on the speaking causes me to fail.” Nonetheless, Susanna was not a quitter, and she was sure of her goal. Heck, she had completed all her schooling for her pharmacy degree. Indeed, she had faced many academic obstacles in her studies. It was time to roll her up sleeves and to start practicing TOEFL iBT speaking so she could be meet her goal.

To help her toward her goal, she starting searching for a TOEFL iBT speaking specialist who could help her overcome her speaking limitations.  It was not long before she came across a Voxopop Discussion Group titled “TOEFL iBT Speaking Practice” for a course called “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.” Apparently, the Voxopop Discussion Group was managed by a California State University, San Bernardino composition and linguistics instructor named Michael Buckhoff, who was also the founder, materials writer, and owner of the Online TOEFL Course “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.”  Susana noticed that Michael’s students were posting independent and integrated speaking practice tests daily, after which Michael would get the students feedback relating to delivery, language use, and topic development. Moreover, Michael was also giving students scores and recommending specific lessons to help these students improve. After peeking at Michael’s Voxopop profile, Susanna discovered that Michael had been in 4,500 discussions, which meant that he had listened to, evaluated, scored, and given audio feedback on more than 4,500 TOEFL independent and integrated speaking practice tests. Susanna also noticed that Michael had his students complete pronunciation pre-tests so that they could speak more clearly.

After learning as much as she could about Michael Buckhoff, an experienced TOEFL iBT speaking specialist with more than 20 years of TOEFL preparation experience, Susanna searched a few other web sites, all of which specialized in online TOEFL preparation teaching:  NoteFull, TestDen, and a TOEFL iBT Online Course by ETS. However, none of these courses seemed to offer the specialized TOEFL iBT speaking practice and feedback that Michael’s course offered. Therefore, Susanna clicked on, which led her to Michael’s Online TOEFL Course.  After joining Michael’s course, Susanna posted her first independent speaking practice and was surprised that she scored almost exactly the same as the subtotal she got  on the official TOEFL exam: 20/30 points.  However, unlike the TOEFL exam, Michael told her that she had three problems relating to delivery, language use, and topic development. First of all, Susanna was advised that she spoke in a monotone voice, so she needed to vary her intonation more than she was. In fact, Michael recommended that she study Pronunciation Lessons 36-40, all of which would help her to correct this problem. Second of all, she was advised that she needed more sentence variety as she spoke.  Unfortunately, Susanna tended to use simple short sentences when she spoke, but Michael told her that she would score lower unless she used a combination of basic AND advanced sentence structures while she spoke.  To help her improve in this area, Michael advised her to study Grammar Lesson 26, which focused on a variety of sentence styles she could use in her speaking that would help her to score higher. Finally, Susanna was advised that, in terms of topic development, she needed a more sharply-focused topic statement around which she could organize the body of her response. Similarly, Michael also had a specific lesson for Susanna to review so that she could learn how to make a more coherently organized response: Speaking Lesson 2.

To sum up, it had only been one day as a new student in her Online TOEFL Course, and she had learned more about her speaking strengths and weaknesses than in the entire year that she had been a student in the University of California, Riverside Intensive English Program. Or course, Susanna did not solve all of her speaking problems in one day, but she was now confident that she was in good hands as her TOEFL iBT speaking mentor guided her all the way to her new speaking score on the TOEFL exam: 27/30 points.

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