TOEFL iBT | Independent Essay | Evaluating an Essay #6 | How to Get a 24

Here it is, people! The last Independent Essay from my previous student who ended up achieving a 24 on her writing, giving her a grand total of 100 for her test.

So, in this video/podcast, this is what a 23/24 essay would look like, but the amount of things she could have done better is staggering. Nonetheless, hear me break down each paragraph, try drawing conclusions of the 2nd body paragraph, and see if everything correlates — which it doesn’t.  This is a great learning lesson for most of you out there, and she made a quantum leap to get that 24, which I’m absolutely so happy about.

Here’s the essay topic.

People learn things better from those at their own levels—such as fellow students or co-workers—than from those at a higher level, such as teachers or supervisors.


The TOEFL Tournament

Who’s ready for this year’s tournament? You guys are going to LOVE this.

In the link down below, there are a series of question for you to sign up for this month’s TOEFL tournament.

In the tournament, you will immediately start off in the quarterfinal round and you’ll be writing against someone else. So, it could be someone from Brazil vs. someone from Denmark. Whoever writes the best Independent Essay, moves onto the next round (semifinals). In the semifinals, you will be given an integrated task. And like the quarterfinals, whoever writes the best integrated tasks moves onto the finals. In the finals you will submit a package of four speaking questions (all materials will be provided by me) and the winner gets a free, 4-hour package of coaching (valued at $160 USD)!

Loser of the quarterfinals gets 2 speaking question evaluations.

Loser of the semifinals gets 1 free hour of coaching and 1 independent essay/integrated essay review.

So, WHO’S UP FOR THE TASK? Sign up today!

For your information, I will be making videos to grade your essays, speaking tasks, etc. This is all part of the process, but your name won’t be used. If you don’t want your voice or essay being used on video/audio, this tournament won’t be for you. But remember, it’s just a voice/write-up…no one will know WHO YOU ARE! Ha! Let’s go!

Sign Up Sheet

TOEFL iBT | Reading | Techniques for Complete The Summary & Reference Questions

Welcome to the first-ever TOEFL iBT Reading section! If you guys are reading this on my blog, the podcast and video are down below. If you’re reading this on Spotify, thank you so much for supporting my podcast! If you’re reading this on Facebook, welcome to the live show! In today’s episode, we’re going to go over the 2 first types of reading questions on TOEFL iBT and how to navigate your way through them. I know quite a few of you have difficulty with specific ones, so I’ll cover all of them individually. Let’s kick this off.

Reference Questions

A Reference question is the type of reading question that will take you less than 30 seconds to read both the question and all the options. Also, this is probably the easiest TOEFL reading question type. Especially if you follow the strategies from this lesson, you will almost always get the question right! 

Let’s look at an example:

[2] Many millions of years after ferns evolved (but long before the Hawaiian Islands were born from the sea), another kind of flora evolved on Earth: the seed-bearing plants. This was a wonderful biological invention. The seed has an outer coating that surrounds the genetic material of the new plant, and inside this covering is a concentrated supply of nutrients. Thus the seed’s chances of survival are greatly enhanced over those of the naked spore.

The word “This” in paragraph 2 refers to: 

  1. the spread of ferns and mosses in Hawaii
  2. the creation of the Hawaiian Islands
  3. the evolution of ferns
  4. the development of plants that produce seeds

As you can see, in a reference question, you will see a word, usually a pronoun highlighted in the passage. You are asked what the highlighted word refers to. If it’s a pronoun then you need to identify what word the pronoun is replacing. 

Here are highlighted words you might be asked about:

  1. Subject pronoun: it, they
  2. Object pronoun: it, them
  3. Demonstrative pronoun: these, those, this, that
  4. Possessive adjectives: its, their
  5. Other reference words: the former, the latter, one, ones, another, other, others

Now, it is important to remember that you don’t need a full understanding of the passage in order to solve this question type. You just need to study the context surrounding the word. Usually, you just read the sentence where the highlighted word is mentioned, and then read a few sentences that come before it. 

Next, you need to analyze the sentence structure and find out the answer. 

Usually, you will see two structure types:

  1. Two sentences separated by a period
  2. One sentence separated by a comma

TOEFL iBT | Independent Essay | Evaluating an Essay #4

Welcome to another Patreon special! For every essay my students submit, they get a video response. In this video, I talk about many parts of the essay and how she can improve her essay leading up to her TOEFL test in about 4 hours. Hear the breakdown!


TOEFL iBT | 1 on 1 Coaching | Speaking Question 3 | Target Marketing

In this episode, you’re going to hear me speak about her rhythm and how it sounded a bit unnatural at the beginning. In addition to that, she had spent 19 seconds on the reading/introduction before going into the talk. This is a big NO NO because you’re being graded based on what you hear and what you report, not the reading or introduction. Keep that in mind. On a positive note, her paraphrasing was good and linkers were spot on. She needs to allocate the right time for all phases of the talk because in the end it sounded a bit rushed.


TOEFL iBT | Integrated Essay | Chaco Great House | Full Essay Review & Listening

We’ve finally made it to our first integrated essay that has been written by one of my students. Chaco Great House is what we’ll be covering today. First, we’ll go over the potential grammatical mistakes, look at the sentence structures, etc.

After that, we need to see if the information we hear actually matches the information that was both in the article and essay. Remember, 60% of the focus must be on the listening portion with just 40% on the article.

Finally, I’ll make some notes and we’ll go from there. Remember, lots of the independent and integrated essay tasks are available on my Patreon, as well as essay reviews (price increase coming January 1st), so be sure to inquire!

Chaco Great House – Her Essay

In the lecture, the professor made several points about the Chaco Great Houses. The teacher argues that all the theories related to  the use of these architectures are not convincing. However, the author of the passage contends that these theories are competing and can provide plausible explanations. The professor’s lecture casts doubt on the reading by using several points that are contrary to the use of the space in the Chace Great Houses.

The first point that the instructor uses to cast doubt on the reading is that even though thiseven this architecture looks from the outside like apartment buildings, the inside space looks the opposite. According to the professor, if these architectures were constructed with a residential purpose, they shouldshould have more fireplaces where the families would have been able to cook. Furthermore, the professor argues that the Chaco Great House willHouse it will only have the space of fireplaces for 10 families. This point differs from the reading in that the reading states that Chaco architectures can holdheld hundreds of people.

Another point that the professor uses to cast doubt on the reading is about the use of Chaco Great Houses as storageas a storage. The teacher claims that if it will be used as a storage construction, it would have needed large container spaces. However, the reading states that the ideal size of these architectures would have made it perfect places to storestorage the grain maize.

Additionally, the instructor claims that the Chaco Great Houses were not used as ceremonialas a ceremonial gathering places. He explains that besides broken pots, specialists specialist founded also, building materials as sand and stones and even construction materials. For these reasonsreason, the professor claimsaims that, even archeologists can suppose that broken pots are related with special ceremonies; theceremonies the fact of having found otherothers materials can be more related that Great Houses can be useduse as a normal space for trash. However, the reading states that these broken pots can be interpreted as evidenceas an evidence that inside the Great Houses, the inhabitants performed important ceremonies.

In conclusion, the points made in the lecture contrast with the reading. The lack of space in these architectures, the not evidence of large space for storages and the discovery of different objects than broken pots demonstrate that the three theories about the use of Great Houses in Mexico are in doubt. 

Reading Article

The settlements of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon in American Southwest were notable for their massive stone buildings, known as great houses, containing hundreds of rooms and standing three or four stories high since the twelfth century A.D. Archeologists have been trying to determine how these buildings were used but still have not come up with a universally agreed-upon explanation. However, there are three competing theories that provide plausible explanations.

One theory states the Chaco structures were residential and held hundreds of people. Supporters of this theory look too similar architectural structures in more recent Southwest societies. One structure, in particular, that is strikingly similar to the Chaco buildings is the apartment building at Taos, New Mexico, which has housed several people of the centuries.

The second theory argues that the Chaco structures were used as food storage facilities. Since one of the main crops of the Chaco people was grain maize, it could be stored for an extended time period without spoiling. The large size of the structures made them ideal for storing large crops of maize.

A third theory proposes the houses were used as ceremonial gathering places. Archeologists discovered a large mound of old material near one house called Pueblo Alto. Further inspection of the mound revealed deposits containing several broken pots. It has been documented in other Native American cultures that during special ceremonies they ate a festive meal and discarded the pots that the meal had been prepared or served with. Because of these documented ceremonies, the finding at Pueblo Alto has been interpreted as evidence that people gathered there for special ceremonies.




TOEFL iBT | Integrated Essay | Sea Otters | Practicing your Note-taking

Welcome to the first edition of integrated writing! IN today’s episode, we’re going to read a passage, take notes in regards to the reading passage, and then the listening.  There’s are three phases to this today, and know that today is just the beginning. We’re going to have to do a follow-up to this video, too.

If you’re interested in the follow-up video or 1 on 1 coaching, make sure to reach out to me!



TOEFL iBT | Part 2 Question | Speaking | 1 on 1 Coaching | Free Shuttle Service

Welcome back to the Part II of the coaching segment with one of my students. So, in this podcast, you’re going to hear that my student had difficulty hearing it at the beginning. Although you will be able to hear and take notes on the free shuttle service recording, why couldn’t he? Again, it’s another case of the “I didn’t take notes because I wasn’t able to separate information accordingly.” It’s completely fine, but it could be problematic come test day because you get only one chance.  This was just a tester from the beginning of my coaching with him, so he has gotten far better.  But in the beginning, it was hard for him to take notes on particular lectures. 

The Good

  • Great opening
  • Two reasons…..
  • Chronological order

The Need for Improvement….in the podcast….

TOEFL iBT | Part 1 Question | Speaking | Spending vs. Saving

Months ago I had a client from Palestine who was looking to pass the TOEFL iBT, and because he would freak out so much, he would lose his thought, become discouraged and stop taking notes (as you’ll hear in the next few podcasts).

In this speaking question, he got only 15 second to prepare. Here’s how he did.

  • Thesis
  • Stance
  • Plan to buy a car
  • Save money for his wife
  • Buy a house

He had structure overall and backed up his thesis in terms of supporting details. However, it could’ve been better if he had said “invest” instead of “save.” Because if he saves money only to spend it on a car and house, that’s not really saving, right? But investing in future ownership is different. So it’s a little difficult to say which is better. Also, his grammatical errors were a bit of a problem…and that might make him stumble over his words, cause hesitation and lose his thought.