{Patreon Special – TOEFL iBT Badge} TOEFL iBT | Speaking Q2 | 1 on 1 Coaching | New Study Area

We’re back with a FANTASTIC breakdown of the speaking question 2. Some of you are still confused about how to take reading notes. I’ve heard a Thai student, who you will hear next month, state conflicting information. In this episode, I break down the reading, and we go really deep in detail about the others. Let’s dive into it!


TOEFL iBT | Independent Essay | How to Write Good Body Paragraphs for your Independent Essay

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to write the body paragraph. 

In the body paragraph, you will explain the reasons and ideas to support your essay’s thesis statement. A TOEFL essay normally has two body paragraphs. Each body paragraph gives the reader a detailed explanation about one main idea. This idea helps to show or convince the reader that your idea is true or correct. In addition, each paragraph must flow from one to the next. This is called coherence and is done using transitions. Transitions between paragraphs can be done at the start of the new paragraph. 

What does a body paragraph usually include? It includes

  1. Main idea
  2. Impersonal detail
  3. Supporting statement for detail
  4. Personal example

Using more complex transitions will help you get a perfect writing score, but it is not necessary to do well. For example, your body paragraphs can use simple transitions like

Body paragraph 1 – first of all, firstly, or to begin with
Body paragraph 2 – In addition to.., secondly, or furthermore

We will look at a few high scoring essays that use both complex and simple transitions later on.

The main idea will summarize the body paragraph’s purpose. It’s meant to tell the reader what the paragraph will be about.

Finally, you need to write the supporting sentences. The supporting sentences are used to explain in detail the main idea. The supporting sentences need to fully explain the topic sentence using anything to help the reader understand. You can use things like reasons, examples, and even personal experiences. Since there should be more than one supporting sentence in each body paragraph, remember to use transitions to connect your ideas between supporting sentences. 

Now I want to teach you about how to write a good body paragraph. What you just learned were the basics, but to get a high score, you need to write more than the basics. 

There are three things you need to do to get a high score:

  1. Write a good topic sentence
  2. Use transitions to organize your supporting sentences with logical connection
  3. Show variety in sentence structure and grammar and a range of appropriate vocabulary

There are a number of things you should keep in mind when you write the topic sentence:

  1. Make sure your topic sentence is concise. In other words, don’t cover too many details and make sure it’s not too broad or too narrow.
  2. Make sure your topic sentence gets right to the point. Do not beat around the bush. When there is too much surrounding the topic sentence, the reader might interpret the main idea incorrectly, which could lead to confusion later on.

Also, avoid the following when writing the topic sentence.

  1. Avoid using facts. Don’t use facts as topic sentences. Remember, you are using the topic sentence to introduce a point or opinion you’re trying to make. Facts are better used in your supporting ideas to help convince the reader of your point.

  2. Don’t just talk about the “what” – talk about the “why” as well. That is, don’t just think about the effect, but it’s cause.

  3. Avoid telling the reader that you are going to tell them something. For example don’t say “I am going to tell you…” or “I am going to speak about…” when introducing a topic. The reader already knows you are the writer, it is irrelevant to say this.

Alright, let’s continue.

Bad Topic Sentences

  • Driving is stressful.
  • Four out of ten drivers use cell phones while driving.

Why are they bad? 

Well…the first one, “Driving is stressful”, is too broad. A good topic sentence could be “Driving on the highway in heavy traffic is stressful for many motorists”. 

Can you see the difference? 

We’ve narrowed down the topic to be about a specific situation while driving. This will help the reader understand your essay much better. 

The second one, “four out of ten drivers use cell phones while driving”, is using a fact and only talks about the what. It does not give the reader enough information to understand what the essay is about and what opinion you have about the fact. A good topic sentence would be “Using a cell phone while driving should be banned because it causes a lot of car accidents.” You should be able to immediately see a difference in that topic sentence as it provides more detail on the topic of the essay in addition to expressing where you stand on that topic.

Suppose the thesis statement is 

In order to succeed in the classroom, college students need to utilize the resources available to them throughout their academic careers. 

Here are 3 good topic sentences that support this thesis statement.

  1. One important resource that all college students should utilize for success is tutorial services.
  2. Another important resource for student success is frequent use of the library.
  3. In addition to using tutoring services and the library, college students should consult with their advisor on a regular basis to monitor success and make necessary changes when needed.

Notice how these topic sentences help the reader understand what the essay will be written about. Well…they actually do more than that. They also help the writer organize the main ideas of the essay. If a writer creates clear topic sentences early in the writing process, they can use those to organize the essay and create unity in each of the paragraphs. 

How to Create a Development Plan

Sometimes we go throughout our day being reactionary. Meaning we’re just reacting to situations. This is kind of how I am on days that I don’t have work. I kind of react to all situations rather than coming up with a schedule that will achieve the outcome that I’ve set out on. So, let’s see how we can break this down together. Podcast will debut this upcoming weekend!

Development plan: start with the next 5 books. Why? Because you began with an outcome not just chasing down best-sellers. Example, “I’m trying to develop in public speaking.” So your stack of 5 books would begin with Dale Carnegie’s Art of Public Speaking. 

  • “I’m trying to grow my business.” Your next five books would be on scaling a business. 
  • “I’m trying to improve my marriage.” Next five books on marriage.
  • “I’m trying to improve the relationship with my kids or kids in general.” Next five books should be on Stephen Covey.

Obviously books as a metaphor but again, it could be courses, videos, podcasts, conferences, events, trainings. Who are you mentors. What are the resources and when are you going to consume them. 

Let’s break it down even further. 

  1. Outcome: what are you trying to grow into, improve, make happen. 
  2. What must you learn to grow into that outcome. What must you learn about yourself. What skills must you develop. What can you learn from other people. 
  3. How will you learn it? Engaging virtually? Podcasts? Same rules apply.
  4. IT HAS TO SHOW UP IN YOUR CALENDAR! You don’t have a development plan because you have a full stack of books IN A DAMN GARAGE! (hint: get it?)
  5. When will you read……when will you try…….when will you plan….

It’s all based on scheduling. 

TOEFL iBT | Reading | Negative Factual Questions

We got a wonderful one here today. I was going to try and fit a couple into today’s episode but I felt like it would’ve been too long and just too much information. Short and concise is better than long and overbearing. So, we have the NEGATIVE FACTUAL QUESTIONS today! Let’s get into it.

The negative factual question is the only type of question that asks you to choose the incorrect answer. The key to this answer is the words NOT and EXCEPT. NOT will appear in the middle of the question, while EXCEPT will appear at the end. This question will have four answer choices like all other multiple-choice questions in the TOEFL. However, there will be three correct answers and one incorrect answer, and you need to choose the incorrect one.

Not noticing that the question is a negative factual question will result in wasted time as there will be three correct answers. However, now that you know this, seeing three correct answers should immediately tell you, you are answering a negative factual question. 

Let’s not look at any examples, EXCEPT this negative factual example: DO NOT WASTE TIME!

[1] Unlike animal migration, which typically involves groups of animals moving back and forth between seasonal habitats, human migration involves the movement of people who intend to leave one area for good and settle in a new one. This does not include travel for the purposes of pleasure or business; nor does it include nomadism, which is a decreasingly common lifestyle that involves moving from place to place (often in the search for resources) but with no intention of settling permanently or semi-permanently in any one place. 

[2] Although migration, and “immigration” – or the movement to a new country, is a common feature of the 21st century globalized economy, mass human migration is not limited to modern times. Rather, it is a continually recurring development in human societies. Human migration began with the movement of Homo sapiens throughout the African continent 150,000 years ago, out of Africa 80,000 years ago, and into Asia and Australia 40,000 years ago. Since those first prehistoric migrations, human history the world over has continued to be a story of movement. Traditional history books invariably feature maps of different times showing arrows representing mass migrations. In fact, the history of virtually every part of the world, besides the original site of human evolution in Africa, is tied up with migration. 

[3] Of course, economic development has brought a whole new impetus for human movement, as well as the methods of transport that facilitate it. Beginning with the industrial revolution, people migrated from the countryside to cities to work in the new factories (migration within a country is often called internal migration). This movement marked the beginning of an ever-increasing trend of economic migration, in which people move in search of better employment opportunities or better wages. And today’s global economy, it is unsurprising to find groups of hard-working immigrants remitting money home, where job prospects are slimmer and lower-paying. 

[4] Migrating in search of employment is only one of what is known as “pull” factors in migration theory. Pull factors are those attractive aspects of a destination country – or region – that are appealing to migrants. Of course, employment and money are common pull factors, but so is an overall higher standard of living. This explains, in part, why much human migration takes place from less developed to more developed economies or regions. The reason seems obvious: people go where life is better (or perceived to be better, since migrants face a whole new set of obstacles in their new homes that they may not have anticipated). It is not only immediate job prospects that are attractive but also the education that can enhance future employment opportunities. A better standard of living may include pull factors related to health and safety; for example, many people resettle for better medical care and overall greater safety to life and person. 

[5] Jobs and money are economic factors in migration. But the idea of safety leads us to other general reasons for migration. Safety may be related either to environmental factors, or sociopolitical factors. That is, migrants may see their destination as providing an environment that is more stable and safer than the one they are leaving, or they may be seeking a political system that is less arbitrary or authoritarian, with greater assurances of civil liberty and basic protection. But it is wrong to think that migrations take place only out of a sense of urgency about security; consider the mass of North American senior citizens who, in their retirement, choose to migrate to locations with warmer weather. It’s not that their life is at imminent risk in a place with four seasons, but simply that they prefer sunnier climes. Of course, implicit in any decision to migrate is a comparison between two places: seeking a place of greater freedom, or better weather, means escaping a place of lesser freedom, or worse weather, which brings us to “push” factors in migration. 

[6] Push factors are those related to the area or country that a migrant is leaving. That is, they are aspects of a place that make people want to leave it (in some cases, they are forced to leave). Many push factors are economic, including lack of job opportunities and rampant inflation. Others may be sociopolitical, such as cruel or authoritarian governments, leaders, or political systems that mistreat their citizens or rely on torture and repression to inspire fear. Environmental push factors may include natural disasters, or the possibility of them, including tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and drought. Still, other factors may be cultural.

From paragraph 6, which of the following is NOT mentioned as an example of a push factor in migration? 

  1. Inflation
  2. Cruel government
  3. Natural disasters
  4. Job opportunities

Before showing me the answer, can you show me the techniques to answer this question?

Here are the techniques to successfully answer a negative factual question. 

Step 1: Review the question and answer choices carefully 

With negative factual questions, make sure to understand the question precisely and choose the wrong answer. Firstly, let’s look at the keywords in the question: Which of the following is NOT mentioned as an example of a push factor in migration? We understand that we are looking for the answer that is NOT a push factor in migration. Next, make sure you understand what are push factors. In paragraph 6, the text explains that push factors are those related to the area or country that a migrant is leaving…That is, they are aspects of a place that make people want to leave it

Now, read through each answer choice carefully. As the question asks you to choose the incorrect answer, remember that there are three correct answers on the list. Your task is to choose the wrong answer by eliminating the answers that are correct based on information in the text and to identify the only wrong answer

Step 2: Elimination 

Remember that the correct answer to a negative factual question is the option that is contradicting a statement, idea, or is simply not referred to in the text. Therefore, scan for all keywords to determine if they are correct and begin eliminating. If you don’t find all the matching, correct options based on your memory from the text, scan the paragraph(s) again to find direct evidence. 

Step 3: Double-check your choice 

A useful technique is to always double-check your choice before moving on. After finding and eliminating the three options supported by the passage, quickly review the text again to make sure your selected answer is not referred to in the passage. Make sure that you are not tricked by key sentences or words that appear in one optional answer choice. 

Remember that such keywords do not indicate the answer is correct, so read both that answer and the text carefully to make sure you’re not deceived.

I’m ready to see the answer.

The answer is (D) Job opportunities 

A, B, and C are all named as push factors in the same paragraph 6: Many push factors are economic, including lack of job opportunities and rampant inflation. Others may be sociopolitical, such as cruel or authoritarian governments,… Environmental push factors may include natural disasters… 

Answer option (D) offers key words – job opportunities – that appear in the text. When you read the sentence with these keywords again, you see that a push factor is a lack of job opportunities, and therefore, (D) is not a push factor making it the correct answer.



TOEFL iTP | Reading | Relationships Between Shoots & Roots

Welcome back to another TOEFL iTP reading! I know my demographic for this particular video, so I want to make sure I write out all the questions in detail and bring things down one-by-one for everyone who will read this blog for TOEFL practice. So, here’s a difficult passage that needs to be answered. Make sure you go to page 2 to check the answers to the passage!

About fifty years ago, plant physiologists set out to grow roots by themselves in solutions in laboratory flasks. The scientists found that the nutrition of isolated roots was quite simple. They required sugar and the usual minerals and vitamins. However, they did not require organic nitrogen compounds. These roots got along fine on mineral inorganic nitrogen. Roots are capable of making their own proteins and other organic compounds. These activities by roots require energy, of course. The process of respiration uses sugar to make the high energy compound ATP, which drives the biochemical reactions. Respiration also requires oxygen. Highly active roots require a good deal of oxygen.

The study of isolated roots has provided an understanding of the relationship between shoots and roots in intact plants. The leaves of the shoots provide the roots with sugar and vitamin, and the roots provide the shoots with water and minerals. In addition, roots can provide the shoots with organic nitrogen compounds. This comes in handy for the growth of buds in the early spring when leaves are not yet functioning. Once leaves begin photosynthesizing, they produce protein, but only mature leaves can “export” protein to the rest of the plant in the form of amino acids.

  1. What is the main topic of the passage?
  • The relationship between a plant’s roots and its shoots
  • What can be learned by growing roots in isolation.
  • How plants can be grown without roots
  • What elements are necessary

2. The word “themselves” in line 1 refers to

  • plant physiologists
  • solutions
  • laboratory flasks
  • roots

3. According to the passage, what is ATP?

  • A biochemical process
  • The tip of a root
  • A chemical compound
  • A type of plant cell

4. The word “intact in line 7 is closest in meaning to

  • mature
  • wild
  • whole
  • tiny

5. The use of the phrase “comes in handy” in line 9 indicates that the process is

  • useful
  • predictable
  • necessary
  • successful

6. It can be inferred from the passage that, in the early spring, the buds of plants

  • “export” protein in the form of amino acids
  • do not require water
  • have begun photosynthesizing
  • obtain organic compounds from the roots

7. Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

  • the results of two experiments are compared
  • a generalization is made and several examples are given
  • the findings of an experiment are explained
  • a hypothesis is presented and several means of providing it are suggested.

Podcast – Coming Soon

Next page: answers

Habit Four: Get Insanely Good at Key Skills

Determine the five major skills you need to develop over the next three years to grow into the person you hope to become. Then set out to develop those skills with obsessive focus through the ten steps of progressive mastery. The most important thing is to always be developing the critical skills to your future success.

Performance Prompts

  1. 5 skills I could develop that would help me feel more confident or capable are . . .

Becoming a master in TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC; public speaking (getting better, of course), transformation/life coaching.

  1. The simple steps I could take to improve those skills include . . .

  1. The coaches or mentors I could seek out concerning those skills are . . .
    … and my main question in meeting or studying these people is to specifically learn…


IELTS Live Coaching | S1: E7 | Writing | Stating Opinions

Welcome back to another live coaching, and apologies for the delay. Generally speaking, IELTS live coaching (writing) debuts every Monday, but because of my extra busy week, that didn’t work. Nonetheless, here we are today! Remember, Patreon is available and has many benefits for those of you who would like writing evaluations, coaching hours (and added coaching hours at a 33% reduced price), exclusive audiocasts, videos and webinars. With that being said, let’s dive into this.

  • How would you describe these buildings using different vocabulary terms?
  • Describe a building in your city.
  • Describe the home you live in.

It is more important to use the space in cities well than make them look beautiful. To what extent do you agree?

Look at the plan down below. The key points 1-11 are listed but one supporting detail for each point is missing. Complete the plan with the correct details – a-e down below.

a. younger people tend to want to live in city — work opportunities. But housing very expensive — not enough of it.

b. some companies spend money creating beautiful surroundings — improve productivity; many famous buildings used on tourist websites to attract interest.

c. megacities — Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai — huge. High population and larger areas covered.

d. roof-top gardens

e. in Dubai tallest building created.


1. Cities: have high, dense buildings.

2. _____________________.

3. I partly agree that space needs to be used well.

Reason 1 — agree because

4. important to use space effectively — population of world increasing / more people need to live in cities.

5. _________________________________________.

Reason 2 — agree because

6. Design of high-rise architecture suitable for buildings in city — building in cities generally contemporary and high rise — economic use of space

7. _________________________________________.

Reason 1 — disagree because

8. Attractive surroundings improve quality of life/ attract tourists and income

9. __________________

Reason 2 — disagree because

10. nowadays good design includes green space but still economic — also better for environment

11. ______________________


agree space is important but not the only factor to consider

Improve your skills ielts

Technique: Decide on your viewpoint before you begin. This helps you present the information consistently throughout this essay. Remember your adverbs, introductory phrases and general language should indicate your attitude, not just the introduction and conclusion of your essay.

It’s also important to distinguish between opinions you hold and those that are more general. Look at each statement above and decide if it is a generally accepted opinion or an opinion held by the writer specifically.

Now, read the introduction and underline the phrases that introduce the opinions.

It is generally accepted that contemporary cities are growing in size and population. Various recent reports have indicated growth in megacities such as Mumbai, Tokyo and Mexico City, which cover huge areas and are still developing. Along with the increase in population globally, it is therefore commonly acknowledged that there is pressure on available space and housing. I would therefore maintain that space is an important factor in city planning and must be taken into account in an kind of planning activity. However, although space is key to good city design, it is not the only thing that should be considered and this essay will go on to discuss other factors, too.

To begin with, a primary factor for consideration is population. Experts claim that the population of the world is increasing quickly and it is true that urban societies are growing very rapidly. More young people, for instance, are moving to cities for work opportunities as well as all facilities. and opportunities they can find there. For this reason, I believe we need to find more economic ways to live. Good design, with high-rise living space, can help. It seems to me that the cost of accommodation in many cities is prohibitive, which restricts opportunities and could be solved by better town planning.

Improve your ielts

Technique: When writing an opinion essay, you need to present different viewpoints. These can be varied to appear personal or impersonal. Both are possible approaches.

Podcast – coming soon

YouTube – coming soon

Patreon – coming soon

Stephen Covey’s 8th Habit | Season 6 – Episode 18 | Learning by Teaching and Doing

“If you would like to get the most out of this book and initiate powerful change and growth in your life and organization, I recommend two simple ideas to you. If you will do these two things, I guarantee dramatic results. The first is to teach others what you learn; the second is to systematically apply what you learn—to do it!

Excerpt From: Stephen R. Covey. “The 8th Habit.” Apple Books.

What do you think I do with my podcasts? I do EXACTLY this — I learn something and I teach it — and in the process I become it. This is what I’ve been doing with a 6-year-old student. I teach her and then she gets all the other children together and teaches them what I taught her. This makes a mentor at such a young age and it’s unbelievably gratifying. Tune into my INSTAGRAM to see the IGTV.

“Also when you teach or share what you’re learning with others, you implicitly commit socially to live what you teach. You will naturally be more motivated to live what you’re learning. This sharing will be a basis for deepening learning, commitment and motivation, making change legitimate, and enrolling a support team. You will also find that sharing creates bonding with people—especially with your children. Have them regularly teach you what they are learning in school. My wife, Sandra, and I have found that doing this simple thing essentially eliminates any need for external motivation with their studies. Those who teach what they are learning are, by far, the greatest students.”

Excerpt From: Stephen R. Covey. “The 8th Habit.” Apple Books.

Stephen Covey’s 8th Habit | Season 6 – Episode 14 | Find Your Voice

“EVERYONE CHOOSES ONE of two roads in life—the old and the young, the rich and the poor, men and women alike. One is the broad, well-traveled road to mediocrity, the other the road to greatness and meaning. The range of possibilities that exists within each of these two destinations is as wide as the diversity of gifts and personalities in the human family. But the contrast between the two destinations is as the night is to the day.”

Excerpt From: Stephen R. Covey. “The 8th Habit.”

Diagram explanation in podcast.

“The path to mediocrity straitjackets human potential. The path to greatness unleashes and realizes human potential. The path to mediocrity is the quick-fix, short-cut approach to life. The path to greatness is a process of sequential growth from the inside out. Travelers on the lower path to mediocrity live out the cultural “software” of ego, indulgence, scarcity, comparison, competitiveness and victimism. Travelers on the upper path to greatness rise above negative cultural influences and choose to become the creative force of their lives. One word expresses the pathway to greatness. Voice. Those on this path find their voice and inspire others to find theirs. The rest never do.”

Excerpt From: Stephen R. Covey. “The 8th Habit.”