The Many Faces of TOEFL® Success Stories: Bertha Bay-Sa Pan

Monthly accounts of other TOEFL® test takers' journeys to success.

The Many Faces of TOEFL® Success Stories: Bertha Bay-Sa Pan

Dec 16, 2014

Her films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won accolades from The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and The Chicago Tribune. She received an MFA degree in Directing from the Columbia University Graduate Film School, and won the Directors Guild Award for Best Asian American Student Filmmaker. Her name is Bertha Bay-Sa Pan, and before embarking on a successful career as a filmmaker, she took the TOEFL® test.

Bertha credits the TOEFL® test for opening the doors to higher education, and describes her time studying abroad as “incredibly enriching.” How important is English to her today? Considering that the last two feature films she wrote and directed were in English, it’s crucial! 

We asked Bertha how she would advise a new generation of test takers. This is what she had to say:

On studying abroad…
“Enjoy the journey, experience life as much as possible wherever you are, explore fearlessly, observe keenly, learn tirelessly, and as the author Ann Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird: ‘be present, and in awe.’”

On the ups and downs of starting a career…
“Don’t worry too much about what you cannot control: Take one day at a time. Every opportunity –whether we understand or appreciate what it is while going through it – is ultimately enriching and empowering our tomorrow.”

On preparing for the TOEFL® test…
“Don’t stress over cramming for tests. Take time to listen to English conversations in real-life environments, read good books, and watch fun movies and TV shows. I also did a lot of comic book reading, which all helped my vocabulary!”

We hope this advice helps you achieve success on test day, and in all your experiences beyond. Good luck!

Could you be the next TOEFL® success story? Get more inspiration and advice from test takers like you >