Need Advice on TOEFL Peparation Material (giving TOEFL in less than a month)

Hi my name is Vipul, I am currently in USA. I am originally from India and English is my second language. I am a graphic designer and I wish to do Masters or Bachelor.

I wish to give my TOEFEL in less than a months time. I can study for 8-10 hours a day full time. I was browsing some comments for books and i have short listed some books. I want to know whether i am on the right track in buying these 3 study materials:

  1. Barron’s Practice Exercises for the TOEFL
  2. CD TOEFL iBT Audio CD Package (Barrons How to Prepare for the TOEFL)
  3. Kaplan TOEFL iBT with CD-ROM 2008-2009

Can some one share with me some e-books or tell me a good sites to refer…

I will appreciate your help and guidance in this matter.


TOEFL listening lectures: A university lecture by a professor of Paleontology

Hi Vipulkatira,

I referred “Kaplan TOEFL iBT with CD-ROM” for the TOEFL exam.
Apart from such handbooks you may like to go through:

Reading and writing: articles from Articles and Letters Daily

Listening and speaking: BBC’s podcasts like World Have Your Say


Hi Gray and Vipul,

Thank you so much for your recommendations. I will search for the books which mentioned above. Please let me know it is a smart idea to take a 16 weeks preparation course ($3,700) for the test at Santa Ana school . I am confusing to take this class or not. It is expensive to me. Wait for your advise. Pls contact me at thanks

Hi Gray

Thank you so much for your guidance and time.
I have already started listening to podcasts and saw aldaily and it sure helps…

I have a problem here. I am finding it difficult to take mental or written notes for Liestening Conversation. Do you have any tip for that? How to take notes of conversatons? in 2 columns with minor or major etc or just go jot down the idea…

Would appreciate if you could help me in this.

And generally can you share your experience of TOFEL.

More Hybrid Cars on the Road Please

Hi Quan

I am sorry i am unaware of this 16 week course…

Is English your 2nd language? Do you talk English daily?

If you think you are are comfortable with the topics then you can prepare yourself but if you think you need help then its better to take such courses.

Find reviews about such courses. The best person would be Gray :slight_smile: as i am new in USA too.


Hi Gray and Vipul,

Thank you so much for your recommendations. I will search for the books which mentioned above. Please let me know it is a smart idea to take a 16 weeks preparation course ($3,700) for the test at Santa Ana school . I am confusing to take this class or not. It is expensive to me. Wait for your advise. Pls contact me at thanks

Hi All,

Let me elaborate a bit more on my TOEFL experience:

TOEFL doesn’t test on advanced usage of English, for example, you don’t need to have large vocabulary to score good in TOEFL. What TOEFL tests is your ability to comprehend accurately and to express it clearly.

Here is what I did during the exam (you may be comfortable with other techniques suitable to your needs, I would encourage you to work on that - to arrive at a strategy of your own):

  1. Reading:
    -read at medium speed but with no going back
    -arrange keywordsnotes by passage number
    -go through the questions and use the notes as index to find answers

  2. Listening:
    -give attention to the introduction…don’t take anything until you are sure of the topic
    -for conversation arrange keywordsnotes by speaker
    -for lecture arrange keywordsnotes by subtopics
    -go through the questions and use notes if required

  3. Speaking:
    -I am still weak at this but I would recommend you to use English in daily life
    -to start with, an online talk with friends from around the world is of great help
    -be ready with your thoughts on familiar topics like ‘describing your friend’
    -for integrated tasks in speaking (where we read and then listen before we put forth
    our reasoning) requires you to take notes effectively

  4. Writing:
    -read a lot on various topics
    -habituate yourself to put down the same thing in different ways
    -don’t deviate from the main point of the writing topic
    -don’t be redundant (duplicating the things)

Coming back to Quan’s question, I would say get a reference book for preparing the TOEFL, work on it for a month and then see the results. If you are confident about your target score (I had targeted for 85/120 at least), you would not need any preparation course. Even if you decide for a course, by then you would have familiarized yourself with the TOEFL and you would catch faster on the course.

Hope, this helps you all :slight_smile:

Dear Torsten Daerr , Gray and Vibul,

Thank you for your information. It is highly appreciated to have your prompt feedbacks. I noted all your recommendation and did some homework . I believe with the helps of you and members in forum , my english will be better. Hopefully, I can touch my goal . I am planning to take MBA program at Cal State University Fullerton - California ; however, i get stuck with TOEFL and GMAT which required by school for the test. I am trying my best to study hard to fullfil the school condition. English is my second language which give me headeach sometimes but I have to face with it daily. Wellll, study, study…

Best wishes my dears. Happy day!

Hi Gary

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us.
I truly appreciate it. I am motivated to take this test with your guidance.

I have taken down all points and i am working on whats comfortable for me. I shall update you soon…

(Boundaries are just man made ignore them)

Hi All,

Few links for speaking and writing:

TOEFL speaking and writing blog

Practice topics for TOEFL speaking part 1


I love words, sounds envy me.

Hi Gary

I have a request… Can you please grade my independent writing essay on a scale of 0 to 5 and suggest any improvements.

Can i share with you some written essays in the future.

Some of problems i face in writing is the time is insufficient for me to plan, write and edit. I think my problem is i am trying to say too much. Need to cut down.

Image you received some land to use as you wish. How would you use this land.? Use specific details to explain your answer?

I would love to build a shopping complex or build a hotel. Both these will make me a rich man. But if I choose these options I will consider myself an opportunistic and selfish. Rather I would use this wonderful opportunity of a personal land to make a Community Park. I would like to build a park for three simple reasons for kids, young and old adults and for the betterment of the environment.

In today’s urban stressful life kids have little or no playground. Most of the urban kids stay indoors and play video games or surf Internet. Not that these are evil, but there is a need for kids go out and play. This makes them physically fit and will help reduce their stress. When I was a child loved playing in park playgrounds, it used to make me feel very happy and content. All I cared was playing and running around trees with my dad whole day. I don’t see all this anymore with today’s kid hence a playground in the park would be my ideal way to bring those indoor kids out.

Parks are good not only for kids but also growing adults and senior citizens as they serve as a social stress free zone to interact. It would be ideal to watch old and young couples, when they can stroll and rekindle their past or dream about their future. This social interaction is very important for the community and helps to foster bonds and many social groups. For example, laughing clubs and yoga classes. Studies have shown that a simple walk in the park have calming effects on the body.

Today’s urban environment is full of pollution by cars and greenhouse gasses. By making a park will not solve environmental issues but I am sure it will help in a small way. Making forest zones in the park will help to reduce carbon dioxide which is a major source of global warming. In spite of getting land and the benefits, there may be challenges. How to build a park, finance and human resource? For that I would take help from the municipalities and local community.

We as human being take a lot from society and environment and never think of repaying. Building a park would be a small way of giving back to the society and environment.

Hey Vipul,

As I am not a native speaker or teacher, I am not able to evaluate the essay, but as always, I could reiterate some points to remember while writing an essay in TOEFL:

  1. essay should be structured e.g., introduction, 2 to 3 supporting passages, conclusion

  2. minimize mistakes - both spelling as well as grammatical

  3. don’t be too abstract while writing (this is my experience, I wrote too generally and got 3 where I expected 4 :()

  4. think for about 7-8 minutes on the given topic, write for next 17-18 minutes, review the essay for 4-5 minutes

Well, I would certainly like to go through the essays and post corrections on this forum itself so that many of us can read and correct. But, as it takes about half an hour to review the essay carefully, I would not be able to post the reply immediately. But I would try.

Please feel free to post the essays here :slight_smile: Hope, we could get few more friends here to learn with :slight_smile:


I love words, sounds envy me.

Issues with this passage:

  1. ‘I would love to build a shopping complex or build a hotel.’ - the negative tone is not properly conveyed here. Also the verb ‘build’ is repeated unnecessarily.

  2. Usage of tense - ‘will’ seems improper (I am not sure, can someone look into the correctness of the tense usage here please?)

Now look at this sample introduction:

Isn’t it a good idea to build a shopping complex or a hotel on a received land? I could be a rich man if I do that. But at the same time I would be an opportunistic or selfish as it would only benefit me. Obviously, the only good use of such land would be to make it a community park where people can gather and find relief from the noisy life.

Introduction is enough for today, let’s meet tomorrow again :slight_smile:

I love words, sounds envy me.

hello…i attended TEOFL IBT exam last August and got 61 points. Then i attended TOEFL PBT last october and got 500 points. I must get 550 or 79 points. Which exam i should prefer? What do you think? thank for your suggestions? Bye…

Sorry I won’t be able to help you because I am a first timer as such.
You should ask some moderator from the forum or a teacher from here.

best of luck

Hi Gray,

Thank you for help and directions!!!


“Anytime my friend” (I learned this from Kitos :))