Be in the Know: TOEFL Scoring

The Test of English as Foreign Language consists of four sub-examinations: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Each of these component contribute a fourth (1/4) of a test-taker’s score. Knowing exactly how the TOEFL is scored is important to any test-taker because it gives him or her idea of what raw scores they should aim for. 


Each subtest will have varying number of items. The Listening exam has four (4) to six (6) recordings, with around 6 questions each; Reading has three (3) to five (5) passages, with five (5) questions each; there are two (2) tasks to complete in the Writing test; and 6 tasks in the Speaking examination. Despite this, each subtest contribute equally to your final score.


The raw scores of these subtests are converted to what is called scaled score. The scaled scores are from 1-30, with 30 being the perfect mark. Thus, the highest mark in the TOEFL is 120 — four perfect 30 scaled scores. 


The Reading and Listening subtests are scored automatically, but scoring the Writing and Speaking part of the TOEFL requires human intervention. In these subtests, several components are looked into.


The perfect score for the Writing examination means that the essay written has the following characteristics:


“~effectively addresses the topic and task

~is well organized and well developed, using clearly appropriate explanations, exemplifications,

and/or details

~displays unity, progression, and coherence

~displays consistent facility in the use of language, demonstrating syntactic variety, appropriate

word choice, and idiomaticity, though it may have minor lexical or grammatical errors”


The Speaking Exam, on the other hand, is graded through looks into three (3) components –

Delivery, Language Use, and Topic Development. The general description for a perfect score in the speaking test is:


“The response fulfills the demands of the task, with at most minor lapses in completeness. It is highly intelligible and exhibits sustained, coherent discourse.”




The TOEFL exam, as stated before, is graded by computer and by human raters for the Writing and Speaking subtest. To ensure objectivity and precision, these human raters are trained well and the system of scoring is calibrated so that one rater would have the same standards as the rest. Also, the TOEFL is not graded on site. This means that you cannot expect that raters would be grading your work during the actual TOEFL test. This is to ensure that the scoring is done without bias to the examinees.


This would ensure fair and objective scoring of the test.


Good luck!


Common Language Mistakes in the IELTS and TOEFL

The IELTS and the TOEFL are the two most popular exam of English proficiency. Non-native speakers of the language, like Filipinos, are required to take the test should they wish to study, work, or migrate abroad.

One of the common errors of test-takers is forgetting that these examinations are of international standard, thus there are some expressions that are acceptable in their country but are not allowable in these tests. This is what we call Filipinoism. Also, test-takers must be aware of the common grammatical and lexical errors committed.

Here are some of the most common mistakes and their corrections.

  1. Subject-verb agreement

Correction: Singular subject + s-form; Plural subject + base form

                        “The man thinks he is important.”

                        “The men think they are important.”

  1. Subject-verb agreement part 2: “One of the…” statements

Example: One of the billions of people of the world are your missing wife.

Correction: How many is “One”? It is singular.

                      “One of the billions of people of the world is your missing wife.”

  1. The double negative.

Example: “I wasn’t no beggar.”

Correction: Do not put not and no together

                       “I was not a beggar.”


  1. Do/does/did + past tense

Example: “Did you thought I will forget?”

Correction: Do/does/did + present tense

                        “Did you think I will forget?”


  1. Misuse of words due to direct translation

Example:  “Buksan mo ang computer” becomes “Open the computer”

Correction: “Turn on/Turn off the computer.”


  1. Redundancy: “I personally think…” or “In my own opinion…”

Correction: If it is what you think then it is probably personal. Also, if it is your opinion it is probably your own. Why repeat these words?


  1. The difference between few and little.

Correction: Remember that few is used for countable nouns…

                        Few people                 Few books          Few clothes    

                       …whereas little is used for uncountable nouns

                     Little sand                      Little water         Little air


These are the most common mistakes that we Filipinos make when sitting English examinations. If you will examine these errors, they are actually quite simple. The problem of many test-takers is, in the heat of the moment when they are writing or speaking, they tend to be careless. Make sure that you are very careful of your Grammar and word usage. Practice, practice, practice. There is no better way to improve your English than to continuously use it and use it correctly all the time.


Good luck!

Why Choose the IELTS?

In many cases, people who wish to study, migrate, or work in an English-communicating country would be required to take an English proficiency examination. There are several types – the TOEFL, the TOEIC, the PTE Academic, and the IELTS. The two most popular English exams are the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Test System (IELTS). Most institutions would require you to take one or the other, but some would allow you to choose.

This article explores the pros of choosing the IELTS over other English proficiency examinations, if you are given the choice. A mirror article explores the pros of TOEFL; you might want to check that out too.

The IELTS have several pros that would make the examiner more comfortable in taking it. Here are some.

  1. The IELTS primarily makes use of International English, particularly British English. This means that the accents utilized in the Listening test are varied – it can be Australian, British, American, European, Asian-English. If you are exposed to these accents, then the IELTS would be a good choice.
  2. The exam offers you a choice between academic and general training. The truth: the English proficiency requirements of one who shall be a migrant and one who shall pursue higher education are different. Other English proficiency exams are academic-based – meaning regardless of why you are taking the test and your English language needs, the standards would be that of a university level proficiency. In other words, it is difficult. The IELTS, however, offers the general training module which tests the examinee’s survival English. This is relatively much easier and much more suited to migrants who would not study.
  3. The IELTS is paper-based (in the Philippines). If you are a technophobe, or simply prefer writing long hand to clicking and typing, then you would probably more comfortable in taking the IELTS. Although remember that, especially in the Writing test, there are word count requirements. If you plan on taking the IELTS, make sure you write fast and legibly.
  4. The IELTS is shorter. If you cannot concentrate for a long time, then the IELTS is a better choice. Other English tests are quite long. The TOEFL, for instance, is roughly four (4) hours. The IELTS can be finished in only three (3) hours.
  5. The Speaking test is a face-to-face interview. To some people, speaking to their examiner face-to-face is much easier, probably because of the human contact. The IELTS speaking test is an 11-14 minute interview. If you prefer to speak to a person than a computer (which is used in Speaking exams in other international English test), then you may want to choose the IELTS.

These are some of the advantages that the IELTS offers. If you have the opportunity to choose your English proficiency test and you find yourself comfortable with these characteristics, then take advantage of them and sit the IELTS.

Good luck!

Mental Preparation in Taking Any English Test

Whether you are taking the IELTS, the TOEFL or any English test, it is not enough to have flawless Grammar and months of prep. These things can be overridden by anxiety. This is why preparing yourself mentally is also important. Remember that focus is affected by anxiety and succumb to anxiety means that getting your head in the game will be tough if not impossible.

Here are some tips that you can try out to beat the nerves.

  1. Get to the bottom of the anxiety. What is making you nervous? There is probably a problem. Identify the problem but be specific about it. In other words, do not say that “My grammar sucks.” Say, instead, what makes your grammar sucks. “I am not very good at subject-verb agreement”. The first problem would take ages to correct, but the second statement gives you focus. Identifying what makes you anxious would help you beat the nerves because it also gives you a realistic idea of how to solve the problem.
  2. Do positive self-talk. We are only humans and we are our harshest critic. More often than not, test takers are probably thinking about the bad side of the performance. The trick is to identify the resources you have to address the problem. If your pronunciation needs work, what exactly do you have or what you can do in order to better it. Do you have, for instance, internet connection so you can watch videos that may help you with speaking? Can you set aside time to read out loud?

The formula is this:

Specific Problem + What I can do about it

For example:

“My p and f pronunciation needs work, but I can download tongue twisters that I can use for practice whenever I have free time.”

  1. Talk to someone who can give you an unbiased assessment of your performance. This is one of the advantages of being in a prep program where your teachers can sit with you. Ask for a couple of minutes to air your concerns.  Doing this will help you release some of your anxiety as well as help you identify the things you still need to work on.
  2. Once you are completely ready to take the test, let go. The skills are there, now you need to focus. Clear your mind and do your job. You know you can hit the marks you need in one go. What are you afraid of?

Remember that you may have problems in terms of preparation, but it will always be within your power to find solutions for it. Keep this in mind and you can be mentally prepared.

Good luck!

Why English-Speaking Countries Require the IELTS

I hosted Jrooz Review Center’s SOAR Abroad 2.0 (Immigration Bazaar) a few weeks ago, which gave people the chance to know what the opportunities for work, study and migration to several countries are. After the event, several people I spoke with told me the same thing:

“IELTS is a requirement to all of those countries.”

“If you can’t get the band score you need in the IELTS, you won’t be able to go anywhere.”

“IELTS band score gives you a lot of points so you can migrate.”

This highlights the need for IELTS – if you don’t have it (or if you have not been able to get the required band score), they you are not going anywhere. Or at least, you are not going to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the UK.

The IELTS is one of the primary requirements to study, work, or migrate abroad. Many of those who want to pursue these opportunities in English-communicating nations often ask why.

Here are the top 3 reasons why IELTS is required.

  1. Students. Studying in a foreign country – particularly first-world, English-speaking nations – can give you credentials that would help you outshine the competition, allow you access to the international job market, and educate you in a culture that can be vastly different from your own, and thus quite enlightening. The catch: if you pursue your studies abroad but you are unable to communicate in the language that they used in the academe – in this case, English – how successful would you be? Without proof of English proficiency, your time in the best English-communicating academic institutions would be a waste of time as you would not be able to take advantage of all the experience has got to offer.
  2. Workers. Whether you are a professional or a skilled worker who wants a career abroad, one of the most important things that an employer will look for is your ability to comprehend and express in their native language. It is quite difficult for a worker to do his or her job properly if he or she could not understand instructions and express. It would be a liability for a company to employ a worker that cannot communicate in the language.
  3. Immigrants. In order to make sure that the adjustment phase of non-natives in a foreign country, their ability to communicate in the language is important as this could be equated to survival in that country.

The IELTS would provide all of these – evidence of your ability to communicate. This is why the exam is required in these countries.

Good luck! 

What Opportunities are there for Physical Therapists after NPTE?

The National Physical Therapy Examination is a licensure test that must be passed if you wish to practice your profession as a PT in the United States. The NPTE is a difficult exam which will ensure that only PTs who are competent in the basic proficiencies and are able to render safe care are allowed to practice. In other words, it protects the interest of the public. Since it is the entry examination to the practice, it is no doubt that passing NPTE is not easy. However, the opportunities it opens up is definitely worth it.

According to Forbes online, Physical Therapists are among the most secure professionals in America’s health care industry, just because the supply is not meeting the demand. In fact, in a recent study, it was predicted that the demand PTs will increase further by 2030.

The aging population affects both supply and demand – the older patients are in need of more PTs because the older PTs are retiring. This is probably why, despite the economic crisis that has hit the United States, unemployment rate in PTs remain low. One of the ways to fill in the gap between demand and supply is to get the PTs from outside the United States.

Physical therapies can work in various settings, making the job opportunity lucrative. Physical therapists can work in outpatient clinics, acute care (for short-term patients who need physical therapy due to surgery, illness or accident) extended care facilities or nursing homes (to provide extend care for those who need rehabilitation and for elderly clients), rehabilitation facilities, schools, and wellness clinics & sports facilities (to prevent and treat injury) . A PT in the United States can also go into individual practice by means of offering private physical therapy sessions to patients. Physical therapists can work on research and the academe as well. They can be employed by the private sector or the government.

 Indeed, the demand and the opportunities are far-reaching and have given many Filipino physical therapists the opportunities to pursue their dreams in the United States. The challenge is to get there. This is why it is so important for someone who wants to be a PT in the US to prepare well for it. The NPTE is the ultimate step to having a solid career abroad.

Are you ready to take it?

Good luck. 

What is My Future after Taking the NPTE?

In the last decade, the United States – as well as the rest of the world – has experienced being battered by the global economic crisis. Unemployment was on the rise and the economic status threatened to sink into something akin to the Depression. Americans and migrant workers alike have lost their jobs. This is one of the primary reasons why many of those who wish to work in the United States have opted to back out.

Despite the crisis, however, the United States still has very high demand for some positions – one of these is for physical therapists. The current demand for PTs in the United States is still staggering and in order to meet the demand for supply, the United States is getting physical therapists from other countries. One of these is the Philippines and for years the country has been sending PTs abroad.

The career is a very stable one, despite the global economic crisis and the laying off of many workers.

A stable job in a variety of settings awaits those who successfully pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. A PT in the United States can work in hospitals, home care, schools, in the academe, or in research facilities. The career is a very stable one, despite the global economic crisis and the laying off of many workers. Because of this, a migrant PT in the United States would most likely live a comfortable life.

Having a stable position in the health care industry allows migrant PTs access to all the other perks of living in the United States. Human rights and freedom are very much valued in the United States, and given that it is a country of people from various ethnicities, it has an accepting culture towards foreigners. A multi-cultural country is complemented by an ever-changing landscape. Life in the United States can be a constant adventure, as the country boasts beautiful and diverse places to visit. Another perk is that the United States has Universal Health Care, which means that part of the budget allocation of the country goes to providing health insurance to its people. Even if health insurance is not given by the employer, the government will provide it. Those who wish to raise a family in the US would also benefit from the good public school system that the country offers, as well as the access to the top universities of the world.

The NPTE is a gateway to all of these. All you need to do is take that step and succeed in it.

Good luck!