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TOEFL Tip #61: 3 Questions Every TOEFL Tutor Should Be Able to Answer

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on October 23, 2009

Strictly English has a list of 21 questions about the TOEFL iBT exam that we use when interviewing TOEFL tutors. If they cannot answer these questions correctly, then they don’t get the job!

If you’re looking for an iBT tutor, make sure he or she can answer at least these three questions below. If your tutor cannot answer these questions, then you might want someone who knows more about the test to be teaching you!

1. Can I get a 25 out of 30 on the Speaking section of the iBT?
2. What section of the TOEFL iBT asks you questions that directly test your knowledge of Grammar?
3. On what part of the iBT are you most likely to use modals?

1. NO. TOEFL does not give a score of 25 on the Speaking.
2. NONE: There are NO grammar questions on the iBT.
3. Speaking Task 5. It is the only place where you talk about offering suggestions.

EXTRA NOTE: Make sure you see the tutor’s TOEFL SCORE. Even if he/she is a native English speaker, your tutor should have taken the TOEFL so that he/she knows exactly what you’ll experience on test day. Every Strictly English tutor has taken the TOEFL. This also means that we know exactly how the real test is different from what is taught in the books. Much of the information in the books is out of date because the books were published 3-5 years ago. TOEFL books should be updated at least every 2 years if not every year. If your tutor is not taking the test regularly, then he/she is relying on information in the books, which is usually old and out-of-date information.

TOEFL Tip #60: TOEFL Speaking Task 1: Describe A PERSON

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on October 22, 2009

When TOEFL asks you to describe a PERSON in Speaking Task 1, you can talk about that person’s:


EX: “I really respected my chemistry teacher because he was SMART (mind) and PATIENT (emotion)”

You can also:

1. Talk about the effect this person has had on you (for example, this person made you more interested in volunteer work, or this person introduced you to jazz music)

Or: 2. talk about why you respect this person (for example, you really respect their work ethic, or you admire their sense of humor).

For more tips on how to generate speaking ideas, come back and read more on our blog!

TOEFL Tip #59: Testimonial From A Swiss Student

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 27, 2009

Ich glaube Strictly English ist eine der besten Institutionen überhaupt um sich auf den TOEFL vorzubereiten. Ich weiss, dass Strictly English hart daran gearbeitet hat um zu verstehen was zählt für den TOEFL test. Strictly English Lehrer haben mir Methoden beigebracht wie ich mein Testergebnis verbessern kann. Ich glaube der TOEFL Test funktioniert nach einem System, das man knacken kann wenn man erst einmal weiss wie man sein Englisch effektiv einsetzen kann. Strictly English hat sich, für mich, als sehr lohnenswerte Investition herausgestellt. Nach drei Wochen Nachhilfeunterricht konnte ich mein Testergebnis von 92 Punkten auf 109 Punkte verbessern.

I think Strictly English is one of the best TOEFL preparation institutions there is. I know Strictly English has worked hard to understand how the TOEFL test works. From Strictly English tutors I learned methods to successfully increase my score. I believe that the TOEFL test is a system that can be cracked once you know how to apply your English skills effectively. For me, Strictly English tutoring turned out to be a good investment. I increased my score from 92 to 109 after three weeks of instruction.

TOEFL Tip #58: ETS Now Allows Score Recipients To Verify Your Results

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 25, 2009

The following letter explains that institutions that receive your score can now contact ETS and verify that the scores you submitted to the institution are the same as the scores ETS gave you. This will help eliminate fraud. So don’t send fake scores to your school; they will find out! Here is the original email:

Dear TOEFL Test Taker,

Thank you for taking the TOEFL® Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT™). This message is to inform you of a change in ETS policy regarding verification of scores by institutions and agencies.

Effective July 2009, if you provide an institution or agency with your score information and/or TOEFL registration number, you are giving ETS permission to allow that institution or agency to verify your scores.

If you do not want an institution or agency to have access to your score information, do not provide them with information about your scores or your TOEFL registration number.

You can read more about this change at under Test Takers, Internet-based Test, Scores, Policies.

TOEFL Tip #57: Study For TOEFL Topics In Your Native Language

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 23, 2009

Here is a Tweet from Twitter that I thought was interesting:

my TOEFL textbook is totally brutal. lotta words even I can’t understand in my mother tongue lol

Now, because TOEFL is a test of ENGLISH, I usually do not suggest that people study for it in their own language. You should immerse yourself in English as much as possible. But there is one time when I think using your own language is a good idea: to learn about common TOEFL topics.

This student above is finding it hard to understand the topics in his TOEFL book even in his own language. Therefore, studying the basics of biology, chemistry, American history, geology, art, psychology, etc. in your own language will make it easier for you to understand these topics in English. Once you are familiar with the idea of, for example, symbiosis in your native tongue, then reading and listening about it in English will be much easier.


TOEFL Tip #56: Good Words From A Chinese Student!

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 10, 2009

Here’s what one happy student wants to say about Strictly English!

当你还在为考托福(TOEFL)发愁时,当你有足够的单词量却不能在做听力时听到细节而踌躇时,请来Strictlyenglish家教(TUTORING)。Jon会用他科学而独特的教学方法帮你在最短的时间内提高托福(toefl)成绩。 多亏他的帮助使我的成绩在一个月之内从63分提高到了81分。Strictlyenglish家教辅导一定会让你取得一个理想的成绩。

TOEFL Tip #55: Picking The Boarding School That Is Right For You!

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 3, 2009

This article was written by Heather Johnson, CEO and Founder of Heather Johnson Associates. You can visit her company at

When I was a boarding school admission officer, the range of questions I would answer from families would sometimes surprise me. However, there were some concerns that would repeatedly surface. For students, as much as they might be interested in the idea of going away to boarding school, they were usually very concerned about leaving their friends from home. For parents, there were always questions about how their child would be supported and guided when they, as parents, were not there to do that themselves.

Of course there is not one set answer to either of these concerns, as they are particular to the individual student and to the individual school. Therefore, it’s most important to keep your eyes and ears open when visiting a school to see how these questions will best be answered for you. As a student you know best what makes you feel comfortable. Would you rather be a large fish in a small pond or doesn’t that matter to you? Is there something in particular that you would like to participate in at your next school? Maybe a single-sex environment is more comfortable for you than one that is co-ed. Perhaps you love the idea of “dressing up” for school in khakis and a blazer or a skirt and jacket; on the other hand, it’s quite possible that you would feel much more comfortable in different clothes.

The truth is that while traditional boarding schools are college-preparatory in nature, there will be many variations on this theme. You might be very conscious of the names of some schools, yet the best fit for you may be a school you have never heard about before. A visit to your schools of interest is most important. Ask to meet a coach or instructor of a sport, activity or of a class that interests you. Ask your student tour guide what his/her transition was like to boarding school. Ask your admission officer all of the additional questions you have to see how you might fit into this particular place.

Boarding schools are full of students who can become lifelong friends like your friends at home. They are also designed to be places that are supportive and guide students in their pursuits of intellectual and extra-curricular interest. It’s all about finding the right “fit.”

TOEFL Tip #54: Japanese Links To Henry Louis Gates Jr. Articles

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 2, 2009


TOEFL Tip # 53: Improving TOEFL Comprehension Via 360 Research

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on July 30, 2009

Since TOEFL is a Test of ENGLISH as a Second Language, you can greatly improve your TOEFL score by improving your English comprehension. One way to do that is to initiate a 360-review of an academically-oriented or politically-focused news story. 360-Research means looking at the story from all possible angles. For example, you could:

1. Read about the story in respected American news papers such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Huffington Post.

2. Read about the story in respected English-Language magazines, such as The Economist, The New Yorker, and

3. Listen to radio reports about the story on or on respected radio shows like On Point, Talk of the Nation, Here and Now, or The Diane Rehm Show.

4. Watch videos about the story on or on your local Public Television station.

5. Look up key ideas relevant to the story

6. Follow the story on

7. Read about the story in your own language.

This last point is very helpful. Because it is hard to understand the more subtle ideas in news stories, it is often good to read about the story first in your own language. That way you’ll understand the story, which will improve your comprehension of the story in English. Once you understand the story in your own language, then you’ll be able to focus on how the English is conveying the same idea. This is particularly helpful when the entire story focuses on one central idea or quotation. For example, do a search in your own language for Judge Sotomayor’s statement that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” In Spanish, one blogger translated this as una latina inteligente podría tomar mejores decisiones que un hombre blanco que no ha tenido las mismas experiencias vitales”, and if you search the web in Spanish for “Sotomayor,” you’ll find every hit mentions “latina inteligente”. So when you read “wise latina” in English, you’ll quickly figure out that WISE must mean INTELIGENTE, since you’ve seen “latina inteligente” 20-30 times already.

Here are some links to get you started for a more recent story: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.





Talk of the Nation

PBS: (click on the STREAMING VIDEO link)



Definition of racial profiling.

article about racial profiling.

Definition of 911 calls.

Definition of sensitivity training.

Article on how diversity training doesn’t work.


Do this once a week on a new topic, and your English will improve much more quickly!


TOEFL Tip #52: Praise For Online Tutoring

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on July 23, 2009

The following two quotations come from this article:

The Sloan report, based on a poll of academic leaders, says that students generally appear to be at least as satisfied with their on-line classes as they are with traditional ones. In fact, the comprehension is better in a virtual class than in an in-person class.

Test preps like GRE and GMAT are intensive studies. In such deep studies, a wholesale classroom treatment can not be as effective as the one-to-one online tutoring. Many who have been gullible victims of the public-meeting type of classroom tutorials with over fifty students and  with no chance to clarify their doubts, will understand the difference between mass teaching and private coaching.

So don’t be afraid to sign up for online tutoring!

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