Using the Right Word: Three TOEFL iBT Speaking and Writing Tips

Have appropriate word choice!
Have appropriate word choice!

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT


A long time ago when I was learning Spanish, I prepared and delivered a speech in front of a large congregation. A few minutes into the speech, I told the audience that I was a little embarrassed because of my limited Spanish-speaking skills. However, instead of using the word “avergonzado” (embarrassed), I used the word “embarrazada.” “Embarrazada” seemed like a logical choice because it looked so similar to its English counterpart “embarrassed.” After the speech, I was shocked to find out the word I had chosen actually meant “pregnant.”
Like me, you may have put your foot in your mouth a few times when speaking English. And it is that during those times of difficulty you improve your English language skills. To be sure, the adage “You learn from your mistakes” has a lot of merit.

Of course, during the TOEFL iBT speaking and writing sections, you need to make as few errors as possible if you want to get the coveted 30 points for each sections. And one way for you to score high is to make a minimum of vocabulary errors. Finding the correct form of a noun, adjective, adverb, or verb, using college-level vocabulary, and eliminating common word choice errors will help you to maximize your TOEFL iBT speaking and writing scores.

Using the Correct Form

Consider the following sentence: “The competitive boy competed competively in a competitive competition. To utter the previous sentence, you need a thorough knowledge of the position and the ending of words in the English language. For example, nouns occur in subjects and object positions, while adjectives occur before nouns as modifiers or after linking verbs as subject complements. In addition, nouns end in suffixes such as -ment, -tion, and -ity, wheras adjectives often end in suffixes such as -ive, al, and -able. You should make sure that you use a word in its correct position and ending. Go to Online TOEFL Course to get some basic instruction on word order and sentence structure. Go to Online TOEFL Course to take some practice exercises with word form usage. Are you to up to par in this area?

Using College-level Vocabulary

In addition to correct word form usage, you should use college-level vocabulary during the TOEFL iBT speaking and writing sections. For example, the word “arduous” as opposed to “difficult” in the following sentence demonstrates a higher level of vocabulary knowledge: “The professor’s assignment was arduous, requiring us to invest dozens of hours of researching and writing.” Are you to up to par in this area?

Eliminating Common Word Choice Errors

The last area which will either make or break your TOEFL iBT speaking or writing score is that you elminate word choice errors, especially the ones that non-native speakers make. For example, you need to know when to use “another” instead of “other,” “fewer” instead of “less,” or “quanity” instead of “number” or “amount.” Though native-speakers rarely have trouble in this area, avoiding word choice errors will be no small task for you. Go to Online TOEFL Course so that you can get a list of ESL-related problem words. Finally, to practice word choice errors, go to Online TOEFL Course . Are you to up to par in this area?

In time, after a coordinated three-prong study vocabulary plan with word form usage, college-level vocabulary, and appropriate word choice, you will command a lot more respect with the words you speak and write. It will not be long before the human raters on the TOEFL iBT speaking and writings sections give you the score you deserve.

For information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT


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16 thoughts on “Using the Right Word: Three TOEFL iBT Speaking and Writing Tips”

  1. French is a Romance language spoken as a first language by around 136 million people worldwide. A total of 250 million speak it as either a first or as a second language. Moreover, roughly 110 million people learn French as a second or third language. French speaking communities are present in 56 countries and territories. Most native speakers of the language live in France, the rest live essentially in Canada, particularly Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario, as well as Belgium, Algeria, Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, and certain places in the U.S. states of Maine and Louisiana. Most second-language speakers of French live in Francophone Africa, arguably exceeding the number of native speakers.

  2. Pingback: TOEFL iBT Speaking and Writing: A Case Study of a Student Who Took the TOEFL iBT Nine Times! :Better TOEFL® Scores

  3. Terrific article, this is very similar to a site that I have. Please check it out sometime and feel free to leave me a comenet on it and tell me what you think. Im always looking for feedback.

  4. Lamya:

    Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to learning a new language. It takes hard work over an extended period of time. For example, if you take all 17 of my TOEFL lessons, it will take you at least 2-3 months to learn the information. And that is presuming that you already have advanced English skills.


  5. Hi ,
    thank you for your advices , i will take a look to all of them..
    in fact what I’am trying to do now is prepearing myself to the IBT in a short time , because I want to complete the master ; so I think I don’t have that amount of time ..I hope you get my point…I need someting make the thing easier , whatever I read I know they will get something new ; is there any soluation should I’ve taken..!!
    really they brin me something about ” the TATTO’S” ,and the type of them .. I really feel shoked , aimless to read on ” vocabulary ” I don’t know anything about it ,and why I should know like this thing ??
    sorry it was a long massage , and I hope I don’t bother you ..

  6. Hi,
    I take the TOEFL IBT once ,I found that they there is a hard usage of vacabulary that they put it in the reading and writing section , I really don’t know what to do , because I think the thing itself is like fixed I can’t do well if I don’t know what the passage talking about …I know that I can do better ; so please give me a help .

  7. This video is in response to Neil’s question: “How can I increase my Reading and Listening section score? How can I access the 7 step to increase your Toefl ibt score?”

    [kaltura-widget wid=”wxgqu5cj9k” size=”comments” /]

  8. How can I increase my Reading and Listening section score? How can I access the 7 step to increase your Toefl ibt score?

  9. This is a video comment for Vanessa in answer to her question, “How do I improve my speaking score?”

    [kaltura-widget wid=”0zy78ptqwo” size=”comments” /]

  10. This is a video comment for Suha in response to her question about how she can improve her “bad” TOEFL iBT scores.

    [kaltura-widget wid=”wq1lshraxk” size=”comments” /]

  11. I took the Toefl twice and in both times I got a 24 and I need a 26 to start my PT license process, I ‘ve been practising with a teacher and alone, I read and saw all the videos with tips, suggestions and practice a million times while timing myself, but still couldn’t make it!!I am so dissapointed!!I don’t know what else to do since in the other sections I got a a 28(Reading), 29(Listening)and 24(writing) Please I need your advice in this matter!!I am spending a lot of money in teachers and in the test with no good results!!

  12. Thuy:

    First of all, congratulations on having such high English skills.

    Second of all, let’s distinguish for the audience what we are talking about. On the speaking section, two speaking tasks involve reading, listening, speaking: speaking task three (campus-related) and speaking task four (academic related). The question to both of these speaking tasks may be similar to “How is the listening passage related to the information in the reading?”

    Most likely you are getting a lower score on these two speaking tasks because you are omitting some important points from the reading passages or are including some inaccurate points. It is not about including too few details, but it is about including the most important details. Completing these speaking tasks within 60 seconds is no small task and involves superior note-taking skills and excellent fluency.

    The first step is being able to complete these two speaking tasks successfully involves your ability to note-take. In the 45 seconds or so you have to read the passage, you should take note of the thesis and most important supporting points. There are two kinds of details in these campus-related and academic passages: major and minor details. In your speech you should only be discussing the most important details in the reading passages that relate to the thesis of the reading passages. Trying to include all the details in the reading passage will not give you enough time to discuss the listening passage.

    The second step in completing TOEFL speaking tasks successfully is your ability to speak fluently–without too many pauses, hesitations, or conversation fillers. Your goal is to be able to speak 100 or more words in a minute. The faster and more clearly you can speak, the greater the chance you have of finishing within the 60 second time constraint.

    Finally, you should practice answering TOEFL integrated speaking tasks while recording your voice and then checking your speech for organization, accuracy, and fluency. Most likely, you will need to make adjustments before you can deliver a TOEFL speaking task that gets higher than 27 points. You are asking me for perfection since you are already almost perfect on all parts of the TOEFL iBT except for the speaking. And to be perfect will take a lot of practice!

    Good luck,


  13. My speaking score is Toefl iBT is so disappointing. The score report says that I included so few details of the reading. I wonder how I can include many details in such 1 minute. When speaking some sample answers out from Barron’s, I cannot finish speaking within 1 minute. How come I think and include many details at the same time in 1 minute??? Will it be impossible for me to get >27 for the speaking??? (I score 27 for the other skills). Thanks

  14. First, you need to figure out why you are scoring lower on the speaking section. Your lower score could be attributed to any of the following: pronunciation problems, disorganization, or inaccurate or omission of key points from the reading and listening passages. The TOEFL iBT results sent to you should provide an interpretation of your language competencies, helping you to understand your weaknesses.

    Second, once you have figured out your speaking weaknesses, concentrate your efforts in increasing your level of proficiency. Since you scored 28-29 on the listening, reading, and writing sections, I am inferring that your reading, listening, and writing skills are strong.

    Additionally, I am guessing, based on my experience of teaching thousands of Advanced TOEFL students, that you may have scored lower on the speaking section due to one, some, or all of the following reasons: pronunciation (sometimes, your accent obscures meaning), vocabulary (you use only basic vocabulary words accurately, or grammar issues (you only use basic grammar accurately).

    Third, make sure you register you name and E-mail through this blog so can receive additional TOEFL iBT information.

    Never give up the fight!

    For more information, go to: iBT Speaking)

  15. How can i score 26 in speaking section as i score 28 and 29 in other sections but fail to score 26 in speaking which is required for pharmacists please reply with some suggestion need desperate help as i have tried it for 18 time still not able to score 26 please help me out

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