Home » My Journey to Conquer the TOEFL iBT: A Test of Endurance, Perseverance, and Personal Growth

My Journey to Conquer the TOEFL iBT: A Test of Endurance, Perseverance, and Personal Growth

Embarking on the TOEFL iBT journey was one of the most challenging experiences in my life. As a non-native English speaker from the Philippines, the hurdles seemed insurmountable at first. However, through sweat, tears, perseverance, and immense support from my husband and tutor, I managed to conquer this test, solidifying my belief that “Persistence is the key to success.”

The Initial Attempt

The TOEFL iBT tests your proficiency in four primary English language skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The minimum scores required for each section are Reading 22, Listening 21, Speaking 26, and Writing 24. These thresholds seem deceptively simple, yet when you’re faced with the task, the task can seem Herculean.

My first attempt was not successful. I remember the hollow feeling of disappointment when I learned I hadn’t scored enough in the Speaking section. This outcome took an emotional toll, even leading me to shed tears. Yet, I didn’t let this setback deter me. Instead, I viewed it as a catalyst to bolster my efforts.

The Resilience of Hope

Each failed attempt brought me closer to my goal. I observed a pattern – passing one section in one attempt but failing another, then passing the previously failed section in the next while failing a different one. It was a frustrating cycle but one that taught me the importance of consistency, diligence, and patience.

When I received a less-than-required score, I wasted no time and scheduled a re-test. This resilience was not merely my own. My husband, my rock, supported me every step of the way, even enrolling me in a TOEFL preparatory school. He believed in me, even during times when my own faith wavered.

Learning with Ms. Cherry and The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT Test

This journey also introduced me to Ms. Cherry, a dedicated TOEFL tutor. The lessons with her were instrumental in shaping my approach towards the test. She helped me navigate the complexities of the English language, teaching me ways to improve my scores in all sections. The notes from her classes were so insightful that I shared them with friends also preparing for the TOEFL.

An invaluable resource during this period was “The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT Test“. This book, coupled with Ms. Cherry’s guidance, provided an extensive understanding of the TOEFL’s structure, testing strategies, and areas of focus.

The Job and The Struggles of a Non-Native Speaker

Taking a cue from my husband, I decided to take a job where I could interact with native speakers. As challenging as this was, I found the experience invaluable. Translating thoughts from Filipino to English, something I did instinctively, started to decrease. Conversations began to flow more naturally.

However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Fatigue and sleep deprivation would often lead to occasional slips, providing a source of good-hearted humor for my husband. Still, these moments served as reminders that while I’ve come a long way, learning is an ongoing journey.

The Final Triumph

Through persistence and countless practice sessions, I finally managed to pass all four sections of the TOEFL iBT. The speaking section, which I initially dreaded, became less daunting. I learned to shut out distractions, organize my thoughts, and present them with confidence.

It’s not the correctness of your answer in the speaking section but how you deliver it that counts. The best advice I can give is to close your eyes, shut out the noise, and focus on delivering your answers with conviction and clarity. Time management is crucial, but with practice, it becomes more manageable.

My Parting Words

Looking back, the TOEFL journey was not just about passing a test; it was a journey of personal growth and improvement. I learned that perseverance, determination, and continual learning are key to overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges. I understood the value of having a supportive network and the significant difference it makes in one’s journey.

While it was difficult adjusting to a language that wasn’t my mother tongue, the process gave me confidence, and I learned the importance of practice in mastering a new skill. When I started, translating my thoughts from Filipino to English was second nature to me. Gradually, I transitioned to thinking directly in English, a transformation that was nothing short of remarkable.

My job played an essential role in this journey, too. Interacting with native speakers allowed me to break out of my comfort zone and communicate more naturally in English. This practical experience was an excellent supplement to my formal TOEFL preparation. Even though my English faltered at times, I accepted it as a part of the learning process and moved on, knowing well that tomorrow will bring a new opportunity to improve.

The TOEFL journey was also a testament to the power of resilience. There were moments of frustration and disappointment, but I chose to use them as stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. This outlook kept me motivated and focused on my goal, which was to pass the TOEFL iBT.

I also learned that there’s no wrong answer in the speaking section. What matters most is your delivery—how you articulate your thoughts and present your arguments. This revelation helped me approach this section with more confidence, and it made a significant difference in my overall performance.

In conclusion, my TOEFL journey was challenging, demanding, and at times, overwhelming. But it was also rewarding, enlightening, and full of personal growth. I emerged stronger, more determined, and confident, not just in my English proficiency but in my ability to tackle challenges head-on. It reaffirmed the age-old wisdom, “Practice makes perfect,” and made me realize that with the right mindset and support, any obstacle can be overcome.

For everyone embarking on their TOEFL journey, remember, persistence is key. Keep practicing, stay resilient, and never lose hope. You have it in you to succeed. All the best!