Why So Many Pharmacists Get Stuck in TOEFL Hell… And How to Escape

Jaime Miller Get Started, TOEFL: Advice for Studying 0 Comments

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The Problem

The number one problem of pharmacists who are studying for TOEFL iBT is they cannot get a speaking score of 26 after they get their FPGEE certificate.

Getting the score depends on learning the right information and using it at the right time — and that (education and testing) is an entire field and industry.

If you’re like a lot of pharmacists I have met, your situation with TOEFL iBT might be something like this…

Instead of getting the help you need in an unfamiliar industry, you have tried to self-diagnose and self-medicate with YouTube tutorials or Facebook posts from different teachers or schools.

Or, you have no money to spend, so you get lots of free advice from different tutors — except, the tutors don’t know you and they give uneducated advice because you never have 100% of their attention.

Or, you have decided to invest some money in passing TOEFL iBT, but you don’t know who to trust and you don’t want to waste your money. So you buy self-study books and programs from different tutors — and you don’t realize that using conflicting strategies will eventually cause another problem.

Or, you regularly take the TOEFL iBT exam every few weeks and your speaking score is never higher than 22, 23 or 24 — because you are a “rookie” in an industry that you had no formal training in.

What Happens Because of The Problem…

Instead of having compassion for yourself and getting personal attention from an expert who really knows how to navigate you through your nightmare, you beat yourself up.

You decide that because you are super smart and you were at the top of your class in your university back home, you should be able to use all the same strategies and learning tricks that worked when you were studying pharmacy.

You decide to study TOEFL iBT like most of your colleagues — people who are experts in your industry, but not experts in my industry.

Eventually, you start wondering if you’re actually smart. You start losing confidence.

You fear it might be impossible for you to get the score you need.

You wonder if you will ever be able to become a pharmacist in America.

Because you can’t figure out how to do my job, you never have the opportunity to do your job.

I’m Jaime Miller. I’ve been teaching English since 2008. I’m the owner of English Success Academy. I created the programs Advanced Speaking Guide for Scores of 26+ at TOEFL iBT, Right Notes, and the 24+ Writing Tutorial. I’ve trained 30 teachers in how to teach exams like TOEFL iBT. I know that a small percentage of students get the results they need from self-studying, but the vast majority of pharmacists need much more support.

I believe you are here because you are a smart, educated pharmacist.

I believe that you deserve to be happy and keep working in the career you (and probably your family) have invested years of time, energy and money in.

I believe your talent and skill should be out in the world — managing pharmacies, counseling patients, helping people, earning an impressive salary, making yourself and your family proud.

This is the reason why I created my new, results-obsessed service model, S26.

I cannot watch you stay a stressed out, depressed, angry version of yourself because your skill, knowledge and talent are trapped in your house. All because you can’t get the TOEFL scores you need in the speaking section.

Here’s what you need to know:

Truthfully, it is really hard for me to pick just 5 things. But with all my teaching experience, here are the most important messages that I need to share with you if we have just one conversation.

> 1
You don’t have to give up the dream of being a pharmacist.

When I sent out an email last week asking, “Why are you taking TOEFL?” I got 2 emails back from pharmacists who never got my help and then eventually gave up. Here is one of them:

I am a pharmacist and my FPGEE exam got expired already. I took the Toefl exam for 23 times and next month will be my 24 times. I ma really depressed.

They didn’t give up right away. First, they struggled for years. During that time, they probably stressed out a lot, felt horrible and lost confidence and faith in themselves–because that’s pretty normal, to be completely honest. Then eventually, slowly, they gave up their dreams. I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty depressed, too.

In fact, the truth is, I get depressed when I watch how pharmacists study for TOEFL iBT. I’ve been watching this since 2010.

Every time, it is like watching a soul die.

If that woman, who wrote me the email above, had gotten the right help at the right time, she would have something to show for spending all of that money — $3000 registering just for TOEFL iBT tests. If she had gotten the right help, she would not feel depressed now because she would already be done with her internship and have a job as a pharmacist.

You — yeah you! I’m talking to you! You can have what you want. But you have to change how you’re getting it.

Those people who post in the Facebook groups for pharmacists don’t know the damage they cause when they publish posts like, “I cleared TOEFL with 15 hours of study. I got Speaking 26. Done!”

I hate those posts. I literally want to smash something when I read them. Those posts are dangerously misleading.

When I was new to teaching TOEFL iBT, I used to share success stories for students who had statistically impossible success.

An example of statistically impossible success is getting Speaking 26 after studying with me for a few hours. Another example is using my self-study program for a week and never talking to me or any other tutor.

I didn’t realize it was dangerously misleading and unethical to promote those ideas. I finally admitted to myself that those students already had English that was at the right level to get an advanced speaking score — they just needed some strategies, and fortunately for me, they used my strategies.

In my third year as a TOEFL iBT teacher, I admitted to myself that I still could not consistently or reliably help a pharmacist who had gotten scores between 22 or 24 for years improve to finally get Speaking 26.

In 2013, it became my mission to understand how to actually evolve a student’s level of English so that pharmacists like you can step up and step up and step up and escape TOEFL hell.

Now, I celebrate the students’ whose English actually evolves from a lower level to a higher level. This is not just about learning some strategies. Even super smart pharmacists who were at the top of their class need the kind of help that I give.

I talked to a Syrian pharmacist who graduated at the top of her class.  “Jaime, I’m a smart person. I have accomplished so many things in my life! You can’t imagine what it’s like for me to feel like a failure.”

Actually, I hear something that like every week from a different pharmacist. Yup. Regularly.

So, I won’t lie or give you false expectations. It usually takes 4 to 8 months of working with me, and sometimes longer. But when pharmacists keep going with me, when they stay committed, they actually can get the results. It is possible.

How good would you feel if you were working in your industry, with all the respect and responsibility that you deserve?

> 2
You won’t magically discover what master teachers and industry experts know.

Look, it took me 3 years of being a full-time TOEFL iBT tutor — from 2010 to 2013 — to figure out the secret characteristics of what English actually sounds like when the TOEFL speaking score changes from 24 to 26. That information is not published in any books. The only teachers who know it are the teachers who worked with students for years to discover it for themselves.

On top of that, I had to work with hundreds of students and do lots of extra training for pronunciation, accent reduction, and something called “discourse analysis” (Trust me, “discourse analysis” is so boring. I never would have known that I needed to study it if I hadn’t been in another training course… and that concept is also so important for TOEFL iBT). I have learned a lot of technical stuff over the years about how to speak English and sound natural. It is not common knowledge. You need someone like me who can explain important concepts to you without making you fall asleep or hate your life.

In 2013 and 2014, I finally felt confident about all “the English / accent / grammar / vocabulary stuff” that my students needed to know.

But then I had another problem! My students needed to actually learn these things. Oh my god! It wasn’t enough for me to just give presentations and talk about TOEFL iBT and tell them huge amounts of information. They had to  learn that information so well that they can use it accurately and easily when they are at the TOEFL exam.

Oh!  Huh. Well, I realized, that is different… That’s not just strategies or regular English stuff… Now I needed to understand how to change memory and habits.

I looked in my notes for all my teacher training certification programs. I was shocked to discover that we never talked about how to fix old mistakes. In fact, during my research, I discovered that my industry has a special name for a concept called “a fossilized error.” This is the belief that some mistakes are repeated so many times that you can’t change them. Some teachers and parts of my industry believe that old mistake crystallize like a fossil in your memory. 

So I asked my mentors and leaders of the teaching community.  How do we change fossilized errors? How do we fix these old mistakes? No one in my industry could give me any clear information about how to fix these kinds of old mistakes. They were like, “Jaime, it’s fossilized. Give it up. You can’t fix it.”  

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not the kind of person who you tell “you can’t.” No? I can’t? Can’t I? Can’t we? Are you sure about that?

Basically, I refused to believe in the myth of the so-called fossilized error. And because of that, I started experimenting with my students. I discovered a lot and I was seeing results with students. Students who had “fossilized mistakes” were actually making progress.  With my new homework protocols, their pronunciation in spontaneous conversations was actually changing. Their grammar was improving in real conversations. They were using the right vocabulary after years of mistakes.

In 2015, I gave a presentation on how to fix fossilized mistakes at a conference for my industry. Every chair in the room where I presented was totally full. We had to turn away about 30 teachers at the door because they didn’t get there early enough and they couldn’t all fit inside. Obviously, this information about how to fix fossilized mistakes is something that you hope or you think every teacher would know — but in my industry, I don’t know anyone but me who talks about how to fix fossilized mistakes.

Just like you spent all those years learning how to be amazing in your industry, it has taken me a long time to be amazing in my industry — teaching, coaching, online education, English, accent reduction, knowing how to fix old mistakes… oh yeah! And TOEFL iBT. strategies. 

Now that I have 7 years of experience, I know what to do with you.

You may think your situation is horrible and unfixable… But if we work together, and I hope you’ll find out more about how we can do that, I am sure that I will have lots of ideas about how to get the TOEFL iBT scores you need.

It will take time. You will also have to trust me. For some pharmacists, it’s terrifying to trust someone. Other pharmacists are so relieved to give someone else the permission to lead. 

What about you? How would it feel to let go and trust someone who knows how to navigate you through the whole confusing mess for TOEFL iBT?

> 3
It is time to admit that you are spending money anyway.

I know this can be extra painful. Until you objectively look at the financial reality of the nightmare that you are already in, it is very difficult to create a new reality.

Sometimes, it is hard to even realize all the ways that you’re losing money on TOEFL.  You pay emotionally and psychologically when you don’t move forward with your life. When I speak to women about why they want to be back at work, they say things like, “When I came to America, I had to stop working. It’s been years and I am still not used to being at home. I miss working.”

Or they say, “I feel guilty about relying on my husband for everything.” Yeah ladies, there is a cost for not having your own financial freedom!

And men! Oftentimes, there is a huge weight on your shoulders to provide for your family. It isn’t easy to put a dollar value on it, but there is a cost of feeling trapped. You pay for it with your energy and your happiness.

In other categories, it is much easier to measure how you’re spending money on TOEFL. So many pharmacists have taken the exam 15, 20, 25, 30 times… At $180 to $200 per test, they spend $2700 to $5400 on registration fees alone. They may not feel it because the money is slowly leaking out of their bank account… but that money is definitely leaking out! If you’re cool with buying vacations for someone else, keep doing that. If you want to buy your own vacation, maybe it’s time to think about it.

Exam registration fees are a real cost and pharmacists who are addicted (yeah! addicted!) to taking the exam get “zero return on investment” (which is an Economics term that means you have no benefit from spending the money). If you’re going to spend money, you should always have some kind of return on your investment. Paying to repeatedly take the TOEFL iBT test is the most foolish way to spend your money.

Also, how much money do you lose every year that you are not a pharmacist? Seriously. What is the average annual income in your city for a pharmacist? If you don’t know, find out as soon as possible. If you’re not sure and you just want to guess, let’s say $80,000 because that’s a pretty conservative guess for somewhere in America. Ok. $80,000.

Let’s do a quick math calculation. Grab a piece of paper and calculate these 4 numbers:

A = average annual salary in your city for pharmacists  = $_________ 

B = average monthly salary (A  ÷ 12 = $_________)

C = the number of months you have until your FPGEE expires = _________

D =  B  ×  C =  $_________

As of today, that amount of money for D, is the minimum amount of money you’re losing because you aren’t a pharmacist yet. If you never pass TOEFL iBT, you lose way more money because you never have the opportunity to earn A or B at all.

If you could get a small loan to pass TOEFL iBT and help you get through the internship process, then you could apply for high-paying jobs in your city. At that point, you could pay back the loan and earn the local average salary for pharmacists.

Would it be worth it to invest money in the right places now to earn way more money in the future?

> 4
You can’t wait until the last minute.

For most pharmacists, the “wrong time” to study for TOEFL iBT is “the last minute.” I consider “the last minute” much longer than an actual minute.

To me, “the last minute” is the final months before FPGEE expiration and desperation. In the last 6 months, and even in the last 12 months, most pharmacists become irrational. After 4 years of failure, procrastination or a tragic combination of both, they are so angry, depressed, cynical and untrusting or insanely stressed out that their common sense cracks.

In year 4, their constantly high stress levels cause them to do anything and everything to pass TOEFL iBT. For example, they hire me and follow their friend’s recommendations at the same time. (Hint: I do not give the same homework activities that your friend recommends.) They study from multiple tutorials simultaneously (including free YouTube advice videos). They constantly say, “Jaime, I have to learn faster” and yet, they have so much to learn that they’re not actually learning at all. Why? Because of the extra cortisol floating through their bodies constantly, they forget things. It makes it impossible to learn.

Honestly, I am exhausted from trying to help pharmacists at the last minute. It is like trying to throw a lasso around a wild horse next to a burning building. It’s futile. In October, 2017, I officially stopped working with “last minute” pharmacists who have fewer than 6 months to pass. I cannot do it anymore because the rates of success makes it statistically unlikely that you’re going to achieve it.

If you want my help, the “right time” to study is between year 1 and 3 of passing FPGEE.

This is before you waste loads of money on TOEFL iBT that has “zero return on investment.”

This is when you are still optimistic about your chances and you believe in yourself.

This is when you have enough time to learn and study and develop new habits and improve your English.

How would it feel to be done early with TOEFL iBT?

> 5
You need regular personal attention from an expert.

There are some places online and in the real world where you can study TOEFL iBT that have “good prices.”

Because of the crazy cheap prices ($100 to $2000, students flock like pigeons on a giant pile of birdseed in a park. Suddenly, that tutor or school is so overwhelmed by dozens or possibly hundreds of students, they don’t see you anymore! It’s like being in a group class, only worse — because it’s online and it’s even easier for you to fall through the cracks and for your online tutors to forget who you are.

How will you get the help you need when a teacher is not paying attention to you? You won’t.

Passing TOEFL iBT is like healing from a serious illness. It’s possible. It can be done. And, it is a process. Like I said before, it can take months and you have to trust your expert enough that you keep going until you see the results.

You will get better, and you will keep needing help. I doubt you would recommend a patient jump from doctor to doctor or from hospital to hospital? Right? Because every time, the patient starts over with a new doctor and new nurses who have to start new records. One step forward, two steps back.

If you’re like most pharmacists, you need attention today, next week and for the next few months.

How would it feel if I stay with you every step until you’re out of this nightmare?

Your Ticket Out of TOEFL Hell

If you are ready, I can help you

  • stop getting TOEFL iBT scores that fluctuate every time you take the exam
  • break past the invisible ceiling on your Speaking 22, 23 or 24
  • feel energized and motivated again

How do I do it? Basically, I have a service that is like a ride that takes you all the way home… home to yourself, home to your confidence, home to your future.

If you’re tired of hiring TOEFL Learning Taxi’s that take you only part of the way towards your destination, click the green button below.

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