TOEFL: American English? 3 months to prepare?

Dear members,

I’m a non-native speaker of English by the name of Azmi. I’m seriously thinking of doing my master’s degree in the U.S. and as part of the application requirements of most universities, I will have to sit for TOEFL and get a good score to prove my English proficiency. My TOEFL test will be on 29th March 2009, which is more than 3 months from now. Do you think 3 months would be sufficient enough for me to practise and score well above average?

Secondly, do I need to use American English during the Speaking test? I think that the reviewers or graders are most probably Americans. The problem is, my vocabulary has always been British-based. If I say ‘lorry’ instead of ‘truck’, would they even care?

Thank you for your help.

TOEFL listening lectures: Why does the professor discuss an experiment with dummies?

Hi Azmi,

Many thanks for your interesting questions. Judging by your written English I think you won’t have any trouble achieving a TOEFL score that is above average. Regarding your second question, since the differences between British and American English are so insignificant there is really nothing you should worry about.

If you like, you can tell me more about your master’s degree plans.
Best regards,

TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between two students (2)[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

Thank you very much for your reply. I definitely need some words of encouragement before I would even begin my preparations for TOEFL, especially when my confidence level is running low. It’s a real relief to know that I wouldn’t have to worry about the differences between British and American English. That’s a great info.

My proposed graduate program (or programme) is Islamic studies and I will be applying to a number of universities in the U.S. for Spring 2010 admission. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that at least one of those universities would accept my application. I heard that it is considerably difficult to get admitted into U.S. universities to an extent that even a good GPA won’t be able to guarantee admission. This is basically the reason why I need to get a good score for TOEFL. In fact, I will sit for GRE in May 2009 as advised by some of my lecturers. A good GRE score may well strengthen my application.

Torsten, considering the fact that I only have 3 months to prepare for my TOEFL test, could you give me some advice with regard to an ideal approach to studying for TOEFL? For your information, I have downloaded an e-book titled ‘400 words you need to know for TOEFL’. But in your opinion, will it be enough to just expand my vocabulary before the exam?

Thank you very much.

Hello my inconfident-over-the-Net-buddy,

Just by perusing your two posts, I may well enough state your English level far outweighs that of the TOEFL. You needn’t do any preparation besides one or, at most, two practice tests - just to get used to the interface of the exam.

Best regards

Hi SkiIuck,

Thanks a lot for your nice words. But honestly you would’ve said a different thing if you knew me well =)

I have not been using English as much as I would have liked due to the fact that I live in a non-English speaking community. Knowing some good English words is one thing, but to be able to write sentences with good words effortlessly is another important skill. In my case, I’ve always been incapable of using perfect English as naturally and spontaneously as I wish without having to spend more time just to structure my sentence and choose good words to put in it.

When it is virtually easy for a non-native speaker to come up with a sentence like “The drug treatment precipitated him into a depression” in less than 10 seconds, I find it quite difficult to do so. Even to come up with a word as good as ‘precipitate’ would take some precious seconds away from me. Say if I were to write a mere 200-word essay about a serious issue in 30 minutes, it would take me a bit longer than that to produce an A-grade writing even if I have a lot of strong English words at my disposal. Of course I could finish everything on time, but it would only be a B-grade kind of essay. My inability to think of good words spontaneously is bringing me down. That is the reason why I believe I need to do a lot of practice before the test.

Anyway thank you SkiIuck. Replying to your post reminds me that I totally need to do something about my time-managing skills. During the test, I must not waste my time pondering over which words to use and put in a sentence. I need to practice (or practise in British English) writing with more difficult and strong English words so that during the test these words would easily pop into my head. Many thanks to you!

Anymore advice? =)

Correction: “When it is easy for a non-native speaker to come up…” It should have been: “When it is easy for a native speaker to come up…”


Hi Imzy,

Let me give you the best piece of advice I could, keep it simple, always. You don’t need complicated words to score well on the TOEFL. You only need to speak and write CLEARLY and COHERENTLY. Nothing more. This is not a vocabulary assessment test.


P.S. There is an ‘Edit’ button at the top right of your post, which allows you to mend your post without having to create a new one.

Thanks SkiIuck =)

Hi Azmi and everyone :

I 'm also having the TOEFL test next March , I’ve been learning English for years now on my own ,I know it’s not easy for us - English learners -to speak and understand the native English speaking people , it is not easy at all , require a lot of practice , however , I’ve found that listening to native english speakers is the key , you have to listen to the ordinary people speaking english , as long as you can , and the more you listen , the more you understand , and the more easy you speak .I’ve been watching T.V. programmes , news , and shows all in English , and now I’m very good in understanding and talking in english specially the Amarican one .

I’ve been listening to English learning pod casts ,which I found very helpful and interesting , specially if you want to be familiar with Amarican english , you can download them from :

It would be great to share information about the TOFEL test .

Good luck

Hi Salea…

Thank you much for the great advice =) Also thank you for the link.

Salea, if you want a copy of the e-book ‘400 words you need to know for Toefl’, e-mail me and I’ll you send the file. It’s in PDF format.

Thanks again.