Meriet's TOEFL Story

When Meriet first contacted Jane for help with writing, she was dealing with the huge challenge of caring for her newborn baby.

She had tried to study during her baby’s naps, but of course, newborn babies are very unpredictable so Meriet’s study time was often interrupted!

Jane helped Meriet to devise different ways to study in short bursts, so she could fit studying around caring for her baby.

Her final TOEFL scores were R30 L29 S27 W25 (highest was W27)


This is Meriet’s TOEFL story. It’s based on a conversation she had with Jane soon after she received her results. It has been lightly edited but, as much as possible, these are Meriet’s own words.

How focusing on the writing process helped

One of the first things that you told me is that it’s like a game. Treat it as a puzzle. Think of it like a first draft and don’t make it complicated.

I just hate writing – it’s in my bones but with remembering your words, I felt okay. You were very understanding so for the first time, when I did the writing, I didn’t feel this load.

I focused on building my essay, like building blocks and this definitely made a big difference because, by myself, I was always thinking about smart words for the introduction and it was wasting time. So, I didn’t write my introduction to start with. I just thought whether I agree or disagree or whatever, and I made sure I had a good understanding of the question.

Then I moved onto the topic sentence for the first paragraph, topic sentence for the second paragraph, then back to explain the first paragraph. Maybe if I couldn’t think of an example, then I would switch to the second paragraph and write what I could about the topic.

This saved me a lot of time. When I felt stuck, I didn’t just stop, I moved to something else. I kept moving around, filling in my paragraphs until I got to 400 words.

Studying strategy

This time, I was more organized and I was focused on building my English.

It wasn’t only about practicing exam questions. I was studying and analyzing exam questions as well as practicing them.

I believe that if I had done this before, I would have passed TOEFL earlier.

Most people have this misconception that TOEFL isn’t something that has materials to study for. But actually it does. In the exam, they are more concerned about certain kinds of topics so you should get more familiar with these and build up your knowledge of them.

The exam experience

I was so depressed before the exam. Because of my previous exam results I was just feeling indifferent. It’s safer not to judge yourself in the exam!  

In the exam before this, I was pretty confident that I had passed but I didn’t. In this exam, I was so bored that I didn’t come up with writing examples! Oh my gosh, can you imagine if I passed speaking and failed writing because of what I did?!!!

This is something all people should be aware of because it happened with me before but I didn’t learn my lesson. Once I got 27 in speaking but I got 23 in writing because I was pretty confident that I didn’t pass speaking so I didn’t try hard in writing.

You should try hard in all sections because you don’t know what is going to happen.

Getting the results

Finally, after 9 attempts at the exam, Meriet got the TOEFL results that she needed.

My husband opened the email at 12 am and I was awake, and he told me, “You passed!!” And I said, “No I didn’t. What kind of a game are you playing? This isn’t funny.”

Then it hit me that I didn’t get 25 …. It hit me that I got better than 25 in speaking, so this must be my score…I had passed!!!

Meriet’s Advice to other TOEFL students

1. Find someone who’s qualified to review your work and find your mistakes. Make sure you understand the grammar corrections and learn from them.

3. I’ve seen people going through so many TPO questions in the same day, but you don’t need to do that. I didn’t use half the TPO questions. Honestly, it’s not about how many you do, it’s about how you study.

2. Keep practicing and reviewing and working until you stop making these mistakes. Eventually you will reach the stage where these mistakes will actually become history for you.

Meriet’s TOEFL-free future

I’m relieved. I have more time for my baby now. I’m going to stay at home with the baby for the first year fulfilling my main duty, then the next steps will come.

Thanks to you, finally I have all the time in the world just to chase her guilt-free because even when I wasn’t studying I had this load on my mind.

I have no idea how to explain it but you made a difference, a big difference.

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