TOEFL writing boot camp student scores 3.5/5.0 on independent writing task.

One of my TOEFL Writing Boot Camp students wrote a response to the following essay prompt:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “The best way to travel is in a group led by a tour guide.”
Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Her writing score is 3.5/5.0 or 22/30 points. Watch the following video to see 1)  how she responds to the writing task, 2) what changes she needs to make in her writing in order to score 30/30 points, and 3) what language issues she needs to solve in order to improve her writing proficiency:

 Below is the edited version of what she wrote:
We all enjoy the vacations and can’t wait until they come. During these enjoyable times, we are able to rest and appreciate the time off. When taking a vacation, many people prefer to do it by being guided by a tour guide, while others prefer to spend their time by planning and doing each step of the trip by themselves. To spend quality time and to save time and money, the best way to travel is being led by a tour guide.

First, it is better to choose a tour guide for a vacation because of the opportunity to make the most of the time that we have to visit our planned tourists’ sites. For instance, during our trip to the Vlora city, we enjoyed in five days the wonderful sites that the city offered. The tour guide had planned in detail every movement that we did in these days which gave us the chance to visit almost all of the touristic places of the area. I remember that our days were divided into two parts. The first part included the daily rest at the beach under the sun and being close to the clear water of the Ionian Sea, and the second part was focused on visiting some of the archaeological sites of the area and the country’s scenic nature locales. During afternoons, we also enjoyed some of the restaurants of the country where we tasted the traditional cuisine of the place. All of these movements that we experienced during our trip came as a result of the tour guide which did a magnificent job offering to us a quality vacation in a short period of time.

Second, it is wiser to choose a tour guide to visit a place to save time and money. Nowadays, tour guide agencies offer a lot of promotions for travelers to attract them into their business while providing splendid services where people save time and money. For example, during our trip to Vlora city, the tour guide had booked us the hotels and restaurants. Also, the tour guide had planned our trip in every detail which helped us save our precious time so we could spend more time exploring the beautiful city. Moreover, the tour guide saved us money. We chose one of their promotions that cost us $2000, which was a real deal. If we had planned this trip by ourselves, this amount would only have covered the cost of the airplane tickets. Thus, planning and building a journey with a tour guide is beneficial in timing and cost.

In summary, the best way to make a trip is being guided by a tour guide. Not only do tour guides helps travelers have a wonderful time and an enjoyable vacation, but they also help them to manage their time and money. Indeed, everybody should recognize the benefits of using a tour guide for a trip.

What should the student do now?

Since the student has a good grasp on how to organize and develop her ideas, she does not need any practice in this area. However, the student scored 22/30 points due to language use issues in three specific areas:

Passive gerunds and infinitives in English grammar

Example of a passive gerund: The traffic in San Bernardino was being directed by the police department.
Example of a passive infinitive:  It is important to be noticed by others when one makes a big achievement such as graduating from college.

Real and unreal past and present conditions in English grammar

Real present condition:   If I have time, I will attend the concert tonight. (I might go to the concert.)
Unreal present condition:  If I had time, I would attend the concert tonight. (I will not go because I am busy.)
Real past condition:  I attended the concert at California State University, San Bernardino. (I went to the concert.)
Unreal past condition: If I had had time, I would have attended the concert. ( I did not attend the concert because I was busy.)

Subject- verb inversions in English grammar

Not only does the student have time to prepare for the test, but she also has an excellent study group to help her master the course material.
Once the student masters the grammar points in these specific areas, she will increase her TOEFL writing score.
May the next TOEFL exam you take be your last!
Michael Buckhoff,