Frequently Asked Questions

about Private TOEFL Lessons

We know that you may have many questions about taking private TOEFL lessons.
See if we have the answers below.

How do lessons happen with ESA?

As you may know the TOEFL report says nothing about the types of mistakes a student makes. The only way to identify these mistakes is to analyze a student’s test performance. This is why before starting classes our teachers do a diagnostic analysis of all your English language skills in order to find a starting point and create an individual study plan. Our teachers are pretty much like doctors who examine your current condition before prescribing you any pills. After this analysis a student spends a few weeks in private lessons with a teacher (at least twice a week) practicing and strengthening different skills.

What kind of TOEFL iBT problems do ESA lessons fix?

  • We reduce your stress and make you feel more confident.
  • If you need better vocabulary or phrases , we’ll help you write and speak with it.
  • If you have habitual grammar errors, we’ll help you write and speak accurately.
  • If you need TOEFL iBT exam strategies, we’ll tell you lots so that you can find the ones that feel best for you.
  • If you need accent reduction, we’ll guide you to sound like a native-speaker — even in stressful conditions.


How long will it take to reach my target score?

The truth is that we can’t guarantee and promise you anything now because we don’t know you well. Your progress depends not only on us but on your skills and current language level. Our teachers can make preliminary assessments after a couple weeks of private lessons with you. Based on our experience, students can usually make good progress after a minimum of 6-10 weeks of studying in private lessons.

The only thing I’m 100% sure about is that we have already helped lots of students to reach their target scores and they were happy to leave their feedback on our website. You might have read those success stories here.

An Advanced Speaking score (S 26) demands weeks (10 -12-14 weeks sometimes) of consistent practice to make your brain feel comfortable with using new patterns of speaking.

Why is it also important to have high reading, listening and writing scores?

You may not realize it yet, but our teachers’ experience has proved that a strong foundation in reading, listening and writing is critical for achieving a Speaking score of 26 (which is an advanced score). It is so, so, so much easier to get an advanced speaking score if your other 3 scores (R L W) are also strong. Basically, you need to stabilize your scores in Reading, Listening and Writing so they are consistently at 25 or higher. If your R, L and W scores are lower it usually indicates that you make some grammar and vocabulary errors that will limit your “Language Use” score in TOEFL iBT’s Speaking Section.

Who is teaching currently?

Below are some of the teachers who we are currently connected to and recommend for lessons.

Please note that the hourly rates that you see below are not guaranteed and may change. You need to confirm each teacher’s hourly rate, because some of these teachers work independently from ESA and charge and collect money for their lessons without ESA. We try to keep this website updated, but it is possible that the rates may be slightly out of date.

What does a standard package of lessons include?

A standard package of private lessons with Jane Birkenhead includes:

  • 12 lessons in 12 hours in 6 weeks with a Level 3 teacher.
    (To learn more about the differences between Level 1 through 4, please click here.)
  • Score Analysis of your performance for Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing (your first homework will be to take the diagnostic test).
  • Total cost: $900. You can pay in 2 installments, but this way the total price will be $920 (2 payments of $460).
  • Bonus: While you study with private lessons, you have access to the following programs from Jaime Miller for free: Right Notes, 24 + Writing, Advanced Speaking Guide. If you want access to Nancy Gallagher’s book, Delta’s Key, you will have to purchase that separately because we do not have permission to give it away for free.

A standard package of private lessons with Jaime Miller includes:

  • 12 lessons in 12 hours in 6 weeks with a Level 4 teacher.
    (To learn more about the differences between Level 1 through 4, please click here.)
  • Score Analysis of your performance for Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing (your first homework will be to take the diagnostic test).
  • Total cost: $1200. You can pay in 2 installments, but this way the total price will be $1220 (2 payments of $610).
  • Bonus: While you study with private lessons, you have access to the following programs from Jaime Miller for free: Right Notes, 24 + Writing, Advanced Speaking Guide. If you want access to Nancy Gallagher’s book, Delta’s Key, you will have to purchase that separately because we do not have permission to give it away for free.

What are the benefits of a package of private lessons?

• During this time it’s possible to improve your reading/ listening/ speaking or writing score.
• You study according an individual study plan designed specifically for you by a professional TOEFL teacher.
• You consistently get a feedback from a professional TOEFL teacher.
• You get a guaranteed spot on certain times and days in a teacher’s schedule during a few weeks.
• You have enough time for consistent practice and repetition that helps you to overcome old mistakes.
• It helps to recover your confidence and boost your motivation.
• You get a discount for self-study programs.
• With the guidance and support of a teacher, you’re much more motivated to study.
• We give you an opportunity to get a specially priced package of extra practice study materials. When you book 6 weeks of lessons, you can get a complete set of our programs for just $120. (It costs $290 to buy Right Notes, Advanced Speaking Guide, 24+ Writing Tutorial and Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT separately).

Do I need all these self-study programs?

You don’t have to buy a package of self-study programs immediately. Depending on your Score Analysis with a teacher, s/he may recommend that you use specific programs (Right Notes, Advanced Speaking Guide, 24+ Writing or Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT) so you can decide later. However, the following facts might help you to decide:

  • Fewer than 1% of our students request refunds for the self-study programs, which means that 99% of students want to keep studying with them. Regardless of your level, you will get something out of each program.
  • Based on our experience and because all these programs were designed to practice certain skills specifically for the TOEFL iBT test, all these programs turn out to be very useful and this is why our teachers use them to give you extra practice assignments which makes study process even more efficient.
  • According to our survey, students who received advanced TOEFL scores had spent from 80 to 400 hours over 10 weeks on self studying in addition to private lessons. To be able to self-study efficiently, you need to have reliable study materials. With a pack of our programs, you get everything you need for your effective TOEFL preparation, with just one click.
  • Our teachers may recommend that you pay special attention to certain units of any of the self-study programs to maximize your score.
  • You may have TOEFL prep paper books that you would like to use, but we urge you to use digital practice materials because they prepare you for the real test environment. Remember, during the real TOEFL iBT, you are on a computer the whole time.
  • In the meantime, two programs that are in the most demand – Advanced Speaking Guide and Delta’s Key to the TOEFL iBT book cost $176 together so it still will be cheaper to get the whole package at a special $120 price.

What will my study plan be?

If you are already really good at something (even when you feel stressed or nervous), we will not teach it to you. We customize the study plan to you and your situation.

Basically, we offer three different lesson packages. You should talk with our Lesson Coordinator to find out which one is right for you.

Introductory / Basic Study Package. This is for students who never took TOEFL iBT before or who have a score target between 80 and 100 points. The speed of improvement is very individual, but we recommend that you spend 6-8 weeks (18 to 24 hours of private lessons and an equal amount of homework) in this package.

Advanced Study Package. This package is broken into two phases. It is designed for professionals and students who must have a 26 or higher on the TOEFL iBT speaking section.

Advanced, Phase 1. In Phase 1, we focus on your ability to consistently score 26 or higher in all three of the Reading, Listening and Writing Sections.

  • Phase 1 lessons are active, fun strategy sessions where you talk with your teacher. You will discuss strategies for boosting Reading, Listening and Writing scores.
  • During lessons, you will also edit your essays, learn the best grammar for TOEFL iBT and improve your vocabulary. Your teacher will assign you extra homework for what you need.
  • Depending on your current level, you may need 2-10 weeks of lessons to improve or stabilize your R L W scores.

Advanced, Phase 2. In Phase 2, we create a customized program to get your accent, spoken grammar and vocabulary at the level it needs to be to get a score of 27 or higher.

  • Due to the advanced nature of this, it is critical for you to consistently score 26+ on Reading, Listening and Writing
  • Phase 2 lessons are fun and active — but very targeted. Your teacher will assign you extra homework. It is very important that you have enough time in your daily schedule to review, repeat and memorize the material.
  • Depending on your current level, you may need 2-12 weeks to master the concepts here.

Your questions are important! Send a message to the Lesson Coordinator and ask!

How soon can I start studying?

We love teaching first lessons that are extremely effective. For this, your teacher needs time to plan. You also need some time to organize your computer and home study area. If you have 36-48 hours between paying and taking your first lesson, everyone will have time to start comfortably.

What will I do in lessons? / How will I study?

In your lessons, you will follow a customized program for the Introductory or Advanced Package (either Phase 1 or Phase 2).

You will meet with your teacher regularly (at least twice a week) and do homework that he or she assigns to you.

Your teacher will add your homework assignments through DropBox. You need to finish your homework at least 12 hours before your lesson so that your teacher can review what you do, and plan an effective lesson that continues to improve your level of English.

how do online TOEFL iBT lessons happen

What is DropBox?

We use DropBox. This is a free file-sharing program that you can install on your desktop computer, your tablet or your phone. It sends files back and forth between different devices. Your teacher will send you homework activities through here, including an explanation document and practice documents.

If you never used DropBox before, you may want to watch a video about it in your language for the fastest explanation. Click here to watch an explanation video in English.

What extra practice / homework sources do I need to buy?

We provide all homework material that you need. It is not necessary to spend extra money here. However, if you already have books, that is certainly a benefit. Your teacher will probably want to use them so make sure to tell your teacher what you have.

We do have some full practice tests on our website, but the experience from ETS’s website is much more realistic.

As your exam date gets closer, we will recommend that you pay for a complete official practice test from ETS. This is not necessary about about 90% of our students choose to take an official practice test.

Where is Jaime Miller in all of this?

Jaime Miller meets with your teacher every week and discusses any issues you have. She will continue to monitor your progress from time to time.

If you or your teacher have any questions, Jaime is there to answer them. You can ask your questions in the Community Support Forum of the Online TOEFL Workshop.

However, your primary contact is with your teacher.

How do I pay for lessons?

English Success Academy accepts two payment methods: credit card and PayPal. We do not accept Western Union or other forms of bank transfer.

When and where do I pay for lessons?

After you discuss your lesson package and unique situation with the Lesson Coordinator, you will be emailed a private link to pay. It is not possible to pay for lessons without communicating with the Lesson Coordinator.

The Lesson Coordinator will also say a deadline for payment. Paying for your lesson package reserves your place in the teacher’s schedule. The only way to 100% reserve your space in the schedule is by paying. If you do not pay by that deadline, the Lesson Coordinator may offer the same time and day to another student.

Can I pay in installments?

It is possible to break your payment into two or three installments.
We give you the lowest price when you pay in a single installment.

Can I get a discount?

We charge you the same lesson rate that we charge other students.
This ensures that you get an equal amount of our energy, time and attention.

What happens after I pay?

After you pay for your lessons, we send you a series of emails that help you prepare your computer. At that point, we will also explain how to connect with your teacher via Zoom and email.

You have a partner and a family to consult!

At ESA, we know that you will be more successful if you have your family’s support with your studies. It’s important to speak with them to build agreement and positive support about your choice.

The good news is that private TOEFL iBT lessons is an investment that can really pay off — in faster exam results, in paying less to ETS for exam registration, in tangible career results, and a renewed sense of confidence that will benefit you, your family, and your excitement for life.

We have predicted a few of the most common concerns about taking online TOEFL iBT lessons and some important ways to think about them!

What You Can Say:
Private lessons for TOEFL iBT are definitely an investment, but if I want to fix my unique problems with English, I need a teacher who knows what he or she is doing.
There are no regulations or quality checks for schools that offer lessons for TOEFL iBT. Any teacher or school can say that they give TOEFL iBT lessons, but that does not mean that they have experience or knowledge about the exam.

However, Jaime has spent years working just with TOEFL iBT students and creating programs just for them. She is the only teacher who designed a training program specifically to help great English teachers become great online TOEFL iBT teachers. ESA truly offers world-class preparation.

If I go to a group class, I won’t get personalized attention and I can leave the course without knowing why my speaking and writing score is low. If Jaime’s teachers have any questions or doubts, they will ask her about my score.

And if I take private lessons with a local English teacher, I could get activities — but that teacher may not have enough knowledge to help me get such an advanced score.

It’s true that we need to be careful about money — so can we afford to spend money on English lessons that do not get results?

Not to mention — how much has it cost for me to take TOEFL iBT again and again? Just taking the test doesn’t seem to be working. I think it could be equally expensive to continue following an ineffective study plan.

I really believe in my ability to finish with this exam. I want to succeed — for myself and for our family. In order to do that, I can’t study 100% by myself. I need to connect with a teacher to share ideas, get tons of feedback, and create new habits.

This is really important for me. Can you support me in this?

What You Can Say:
I’ll admit, I can imagine that I am going to want to spend a lot of time studying because the lesson program will be customized just for me — but my Lesson Coordinator has created a study plan that will take between 7-10 hours a week (depending on how much time I have and how active I want to be in the Online TOEFL Workshop).
The Lesson Coordinator gave me a proposal. We just need to make some adjustments in our schedule for the next few months.

This is a temporary schedule.

Plus, if I finish with this exam, it will benefit me and the family. That justifies a different schedule and routine for a few months.

And this might sound counter intuitive because they are teachers, but everyone at ESA think that it’s really unhealthy if students study endlessly.

If I just study and work, I could get depressed and then I wouldn’t make progress. SO — yes, they want me to work hard, but they also know it is important for me to have fun with friends and family.

What You Can Say:
I’m familiar enough with Jaime Miller’s reputation to know she is one of the most ethical and honest teachers online. You can see for yourself!
Not to mention, I got so much actionable advice from ESA’s free classes here on her website — I can only imagine what I’ll get from a customized study program.

I have absolutely no hesitation about the quality of online TOEFL lessons with English Success Academy. If you’re ok with it, I’d like to go ahead and pay because the Lesson Coordinator already created a potential schedule for me.

As soon as I pay, I can get access to the Online TOEFL Workshop and study — even if my teacher isn’t ready to start with me.

What You Can Say:
True, but part of the reason that I do not use those programs or books is that I don’t know how to use them. When I think about studying now, I feel really overwhelmed and confused.

I mean seriously, look at these TOEFL iBT books! There are so many pages and so many CD’s. Do I seriously, actually need to do all of those pages?

I have tried studying by myself, but I can feel that I am not productive.

It took Jaime a long time to learn the shortcuts — and she’s an English teacher with years of experience! I need an experienced teacher to guide me through a strategy that overcomes my unique issues.

Let’s focus on how I can feel strong and confident about this exam. That way I’ll be done sooner — and the benefits of being finished!

What You Can Say:
Ooh, I’m glad you asked, because she’s a role model and mentor of mine. You can check out her videos online if you want to see her in action. Sometimes when she talks, she is almost like a motivational speaker.
She’s just a teacher from California who started teaching English in 2008. She has been teaching TOEFL iBT since 2010. She created three TOEFL iBT programs and books that are used by students in over 20 countries. She even won Exam English’s 2015 IATEFL scholarship for Online Teaching. Now she trains other English teachers.

When she was a new teacher, sometimes she wanted to give up because it was stressful to plan lessons for TOEFL iBT. The exam company doesn’t give teachers any useful information or tips about how to teach. There aren’t certification programs or books that help teachers specifically teach exams like TOEFL iBT. But she just kept learning and experimenting until she discovered how to mix traditional, quality pedagogy and accent reduction techniques.

Now, when students follow her program to completion, they get amazing increases in their speaking — like from 23 to 28! No joke!

And, instead of raising the prices of her private lessons more and more — she designed a training program to teach other English teachers what she knows, so that she can help more people.

Her enthusiasm is real and she takes care of her students and teachers.

She pulls lots of really motivated, caring teachers to her. If I get to study with one of her teachers, then English Success Academy will be part of my team.

Do you have more questions?

If there are any other concerns or questions we didn’t cover here, please send a message to our Lesson Coordinator in the form below.

We’ll get back to you asap.

We are happy to address any partner’s (or mother’s, or brother’s, or supervisor’s) concerns, and give you our best, most honest answer about whether or not private TOEFL iBT lessons are right for you.

  • Please use the same email address whenever you contact us.

Do you have any other unanswered questions?

Please submit your question through a contact form below:

  • Please use the same email address whenever you contact us.