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TOEFL Tip #197: New Feature on Strictly English’s Relaunched Website: Forums

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on March 29, 2013

We’re anticipating the beta launch of our new website next week. When it launches, everyone who is currently on both our Word of the Day and blog mailing lists will have an opportunity to purchase a membership at 50% off. Be sure to act quickly – the discount will be available for approximately one week!

One of the new features on the site will be Forums. These will be for members, by members – a chance for you to share your experiences studying for and taking the TOEFL exam, and to learn from others. Do you have a particular study technique that works for you? Tell others about it on the Forum. Are you wondering what it’s like to take the TOEFL for the first time? Read others’ stories of taking their TOEFL exams. Although Strictly English will lightly monitor the Forums to make sure that there’s no inappropriate content (like advertisements!), this space will be for those who are studying for the TOEFL to come together in a supportive community.

All levels of membership will be able to read the Forums. Basic Membership lets you post comments as well, and Premium Membership lets you create new topics for discussion. Deluxe Membership offers a 25% discount on Premium Membership access.

Check out the Forums, and share your perspective!

TOEFL Tip #196: Strictly English’s New Membership Plans

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on March 23, 2013

Strictly English’s new site is coming soon!

Early next week, we anticipate a beta launch for current recipients of both Word of the Day and the blog post emails. For the first week after the new site goes live, current recipients of both Word of the Day and the blog post emails will receive a 50% discount on membership. Approximately 10 days later, the new site will launch worldwide, at full price. Be sure to sign up as soon as the new site launches!

Here’s a screenshot of a chart comparing membership levels:




The Free Membership offers a variety of materials, including free self-study exercises, access to a limited number of sample TOEFL essays, and a free practice essay which we’ll grade for you. Study Halls with a live tutor cost only $20 per class.

Basic Membership ($10/month), Premium Membership ($20/month), and Deluxe Membership ($30/2 months) each offer increasing levels of access to more materials.

Deluxe Membership lets you read over 2,500 sample essays and search the essay database, and grades 4 of your essays (2 integrated essays and 2 independent essays) every week. With a Deluxe Membership, you’ll also receive a 20% discount on the regular price for Study Hall classes, as well as Premium Membership access to TOEFL Word of the Day, TOEFL Self-Study Exercises, and TOEFL Forums for 25% off.

Check out the different options and sign up for the membership package that works best for your needs!

TOEFL Tips #195: New Site Launching On or Before March 31st!

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on March 17, 2013

In the next two weeks, Strictly English will launch its revamped website. Today’s post will give you a general preview of the changes, and in the coming weeks, we’ll drill down on the details of our new services and features.

 The first thing you’ll notice is that the Strictly English homepage has been reorganized. Whereas it used to look like this:


now you’ll see this when you first come to our page:


The new page showcases our four core services. Of course, we continue to offer our successful one-on-one Online Private Tutoring program. In addition, after a successful pilot program, we are now making group study a central feature of Strictly English’s offerings, with two new group study options: Study Halls worldwide online and Group Classes in the Boston area.

 With the launch of the new website, Strictly English will now be offering 4 levels of membership. Free membership is available to everyone, Basic Membership is $10/month, Premium Membership is $20/month, and Deluxe Membership is $30/2 months. In our next post, we’ll take a look at the details of each membership level, but for now, please note that everyone on our promotions list will get the chance to buy memberships for 50% off, during the first week of launch.

 In addition, the Strictly English blog has been renamed TOEFL Tips on the new website. Be sure to look for us in the dark blue bar across the top of the new homepage!


TOEFL Tip #194: Humor And Grammar

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on March 8, 2013

If you’re online, you’ve seen memes – images, videos, and jokes which people email to friends, like and share on Facebook, pin on Pinterest, and so on. Almost anything can become a meme – song lyrics, quotes from movies or famous people, funny things that pets do, unusual events in the news …

And English grammar.

There are many memes about grammar, perhaps because many people, including native English speakers, think the language can be confusing. That confusion leads to humorous or sarcastic explanations of the rules.

Here’s a meme we’ve seen lately:



Use memes like this to bolster your study of grammar. Because memes specifically call attention to the underlying rules of grammar, they can point you to common trouble areas in the language. Memes are supposed to be funny, but they’re not if you don’t understand the grammar rule at the center of the joke. So, whenever you see a joke about English grammar, look up the rule. Site like the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) are a terrific resource. Then go back to the meme and see if you “get” the joke.

Soon, you’ll be the one sharing the latest grammar-themed meme.

TOEFL Tip #193: Talk For 30 Minutes Before The TOEFL

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on March 2, 2013

Imagine running a marathon without warming-up first. You walk up to the starting line, and simply begin running. Your muscles are stiff, your breathing is uneven, and you take several miles to find a comfortable pace.

If you approached a marathon this way, would you win? Of course not. Your body needs to prepare for the longer effort of a marathon by doing smaller stretches first. By warming up before the marathon, your body is ready for peak performance.

Just like stretching your legs before running a marathon, you need to warm up your brain before taking the TOEFL exam.

To do this, speak – in English – for 30 minutes before taking the TOEFL.

Ideally, you should talk about a wide range of academic topics with a native English speaker. This way, you are warming up your voice for the Speaking section, practicing your English grammar for the Writing and Speaking sections, and thinking about the kinds of topics that are likely to be on all sections of the TOEFL exam. A native speaker is more likely to use standard academic English, and may be able to give you some last-minute feedback.

Even if you can’t arrange to have a conversation like this before the exam, you can still use this technique. Bring a textbook from one of your classes or a newspaper such as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, and read sections of it out loud. Talk about something in the news with your family members. Anything you can do to focus your mind on speaking in English before the exam is going to help you be at your best when the TOEFL begins.