Hi fellow readers of HSB,

Firstly thanks to HSB for all the support and information. This blog is the best thing that has happened to me in my US application process.

The GRE section on HSB was of great help. Scored 1210 in march2011 (yes the old GRE pattern).

And then I began thinking I should take my TOEFL asap so that I could start my application and that’s when I got to know from a post on HSB and friends that some TOEFL centres were turning out to be fake and it is best to book at parametric and after a month long what successful got a date on 18 September (2 months solid time for prep).

Looked at the Barron’s prep for TOEFL and realized will need the whole 2 months’ time to complete it perfectly and so the days passed by with me postponing my prep to the next day and BAMM!!!!

Flickr Credit – albertogp123

All of a sudden just 10 days left. Started off my TOEFL prep seriously.

TOEFL Preparation Tips

First took an analysis test (Kaplan test series) to know where I stood. Reading and listening was very easy and even the writing task seemed easy to tackle with a strategy. Speaking was a nightmare.

The idea of understanding a question and making a reasonable answer and presenting it in around a min seemed like an impossible task and scared me out of my wits started looking for a solution to this problem online and got some templates on YouTube posted by the channel notefulldotcom (notefuldotcom- search for it on youtube).

Practiced all the templates on around 5 sets of questions but always ended up b4 time. I think best option to overcome this issue would be speak clearly and slowly.

Finally a day b4 the exam I get a call that my exam has been postponed indefinitely due to relocation of the centre and that the next date will be intimated in 3 working days. And so another week passed w/o prep and on 22 sep that exam is scheduled on 24th. no prep for the 1 day i had just revised the templates.

On The TOEFL Test Day

Reached the center way before time (all thanks to the fear of being stalled due a telangana bandh rally). Gave my confirmation and waited to be called in but to my luck i was one of the last to get into the center.

Inside the TOEFL Test center

Too much of commotion. Too many ppl in one waiting room and one very beautiful girl drew my attention away from the exam.

I think i should talk to her and all of a sudden the guy at the center calls a name and she gets up and begins walking towards me ( i thought me but it was towards the center guy) and then i realised focus on exam.

Finished the formalities i.e declaration, passport verification etc. and went to the testing room by then i was shivering maybe it was chilly cos of the AC or just me so worried abt the test.

I could not sign properly when asked to on the declaration and he asked me to sign twice or thrice till i got it right. this drained my confidence level further and was finally taken to the test station as they describe it

The TOEFL Test

And the test begins after the guy enters some password hiding it from me as if i would be interested in his stupid password and i follow the instructions.


The easiest part of the test almost all the questions felt answerable except the once which asked u to tell the main idea and they were always my weak point even in GRE and now in TOEFL. But on the whole it went well


Got the long listening. Was good in the beginning. The standard 2 lecture one conversation pattern. The last session asked me a very typical question that i felt i could not have answered even if i was really witnessing the conversation. And all of a sudden i hear loud voice… some one already started their speaking the guy was so loud i clearly hear him speaking and got some idea what his topic was. And listening section ends with 10 min break.

Suggestion – Dont take notes for everything in the lecture and the conversation just the details helps u concentrate on the listening better


Went for some water feeling good that did the reading and listening went well. Saw the girl again 😀 never mind.

Came back to testing room had another 5min of break. My friend had told me to take down the templates during this break so that ample of time will be available for preparing the response.

The break time ends and once again the guy walks in to enter his secret password and speaking starts. Standard instructions before the section starts. I felt i did the first two tasks in speaking v badly because the guy next to me was yelling at the top his voice and i could not get my thoughts right. the remaining sections went according to expectations and finally the speaking ended to my relief.

Speaking Tips

  1. try to speak slowly and try as hard as u can to avoid concentrating on what u r neighbors are speaking while u speak chances are their speech may overlap ur mind and make a total meaningless mess.
  2. During the pauses u can get to hear what the other guy is saying i figured out that everybody got the same set of tasks so u can get an idea of what the upcoming task is gonna be about.
  3. practice and use the templates strictly they save a lot time by helping u organize ur answer in an order with minimum error and confidence
  4. Long speech is not necessary a small but organized one would be great.
  5. while practicing speakin at home try to do it with headphones on in a noisy room helps u to get used to a noisy condition at the center


The first task i.e integrated one had two contradictory ideas about a topic and i felt it was’nt that difficult to summarize everything all though i felt i was short of time.

The issue essay was fun to write. got all the real life personal examples i could get in mind and made a sensible piece of writing.

Writing Tips

  1. I read this some where – formatting is not necessary but it make u r essay look presentable and easier to understand for the person reading
    •  Five spaces at the beginning of each paragraph
    • One whole line after each para
    • space after comma’s and full stops
  2. Personal examples help in getting a clearer picture of what u r trying to convey and they need not be real, concoct a good real life example that would work just fine.
  3. Use words conveying sequence so that there is on abrupt beginning or ending to u r essay. Conclusion even though small adds up to the score so try to make it exists.
  4. Read sample responses online help u get ideas on how draft an essay

TOEFL Scores

They came after 10 days breakdown as follows

  • Reading 28
  • Listening 28
  • Speaking 27(to my surprise !!! )
  • Writing 25
  • Total 108

Overall was satisfied that got a decent score. All the experiences posted on HSB were of great help.

I am sure the posts on HSB will help me further for my application process.

Thanks HSB for ur support & all of u who read this experience

Shared by Arvind.


Thanks to Arvind for sharing TOEFL Experience. I did smile when I read “I saw the girl again”.


  1. Waqas on July 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Hello there everyone . I have a question to ask you guys . I am giving GRE Exam on 25th of July . After that I am giving TOEFL exam on 28th . Will i be able to prepare in 2 days ?? Will the preparation for GRE help me in TOEFL ?

    P.S: My English level at the moment is above average .

  2. prathima on October 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    help me with some online free sites where we can practice toefl test

    • Arvind on October 27, 2011 at 1:34 AM

      ummm u could download KAPLAN practice tests.. they would be more than sufficient. Look for it on Torrentz.. u’ll find them there

  3. prathima on October 21, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    if i plan to write gre in the month of jan when can i apply for univ? and earlier i was asking whether writing gre at 34 be a hindrance in getting funds/ asssistantship etc?
    please let me know correct time to block my gre dates for spring…

  4. AM on October 21, 2011 at 4:18 AM

    shoot off a mail to them n ask that

  5. sibani on October 20, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    hello, please tell me what is the best time to give the GRE and TOEFL exams so that I can apply for the admissions in the opening slot

    • AM on October 21, 2011 at 4:19 AM

      @sibani: define “opening slot” plz?

      • sibani on October 25, 2011 at 9:44 AM

        I wanted to know that when the universities start their admission process? i.e when the universities abroad start scrutinizing the application forms ? so that if i send my application by that time my form would be scrutinized..

  6. Shreyas on October 19, 2011 at 3:30 AM

    Someone here said that ..better take GRE/TOEFL before 1 NOv…
    will you please explain….?
    I am also preparing for GRE on 9th NOV and TOEFL on 11 DEC..
    planning for MS in CS..
    Fall 2012..
    plzz help….

    • AM on October 21, 2011 at 4:17 AM

      @shreyas: yeah i did. most univs hv specified that. verbatim: “be sure to take GRE no later than Nov 1”
      u have GRE on 9th. u will get ur scores about a month later. ETS doesnt report scores right away. n majority of d univs have their score reporting deadlines on Dec3-15. Got it now?
      plus, it has been clearly pointed out on HSB and various other forums not to wait till the last moment to apply, application review is a rolling process
      a tip: apply anyway. u can do that without GRE scores (repeat: without SCORES, not without GRE. u need 2 prove that u shall take them in the immediate future)

      • Shreyas on October 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM

        @ AM
        i can apply.ri8…
        with all proofs of payments made to ETS for GRE n TOEFL…
        I have seen these deadlines for spring 2012..
        are they..?

        n for fall 2012 the deadlines are in middle of Jan..
        is it ri8..?
        plzz help..

        • AM on October 22, 2011 at 3:40 AM

          yeah u can, but every univ again has a last date specified by which u have to report your scores. if u can report them by them, no worries!!
          for spring 2012, yes u can apply now but there really isnt a point in applying more than a year before rght? people usually apply for spring in abt june-july
          not all univs have deadlines for fall in Jan. only some do. many (infact most) have deadlines in december… i think only d texas schools’ stretches to feb
          cummon! u need 2 check this urslf! how can i commnt on deadlines whn i dont knw wich u r applyin to? browse that urslf πŸ˜€

          • Shreyas on October 22, 2011 at 12:04 PM

            yeah…of course..
            thanx for great help……..

  7. tejinder on October 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    i gave GRE today only and i got 900-1100, although prepared only for 20 days, and now i realized that 20 days were not sufficient. now again as per scheduled i am giving TOEFL on 30th of this month, so plz help me that wat strategy i should follow.on weekdays can’t give more than 3 h. for me the minimum requirement is 100

  8. AM on October 18, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    @vamsi n all: if u are interested for fall 2012, take the GRE/TOEFL no later than November 1. its the last date defined by every univ…

  9. Vamsi on October 17, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Hi Friends,

    One more suggestion for friends who all yet to schedule their exam who are planning for this Fall in-take. Please do not waste your time in thinking or planning about the exam date. Because for many of the universities the application cut-off dates are 15th Dec, 31st Dec and 15th Jan 2012 most likely. And almost all the slots are full till 10th Dec. It takes two weeks to get your TOEFL score. So plan quickly if your date is not scheduled yet.

    “One more tip for booking your slot on 26th November”

    Every day in the mid-night (Indian hours) between 02:00 am and 04:00 am you have the slot open for 26th November. I just came to know since my credit card didn’t worked for me to book the slot. When I used voucher in the night (late hours) once after coming back from office I was shocked to see this date 26th November which was not available in the morning.

    Hope this helps to my friends here….


  10. Vamsi on October 17, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Hi Arvind,

    Good scores… and congratulations!!! Can I know what’s your stream in MS? and for which schools you’re applying for?? Appreciate if you can write me back on m couple of quetions.


    • Arvind on October 27, 2011 at 1:30 AM

      Hi vamsi

      thanks πŸ™‚ I am applying for MS in Food sciences

      School List
      1)Texas A & M University
      2)Pennsylvania State University
      3)University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
      4)Purdue University W Lafayette
      5)Clemson University
      6)Rutgers University

      i would be ready to help u ..


      • priyanka on December 1, 2011 at 8:50 PM

        Hi arvind
        I am priyanka.My GRE scores are 1180(560-v,620-q)but low in AWA(2.5)I did PG in FOOD SCIENCE.I am planning for TOEFL next month.i am glad to see a student of food science on HSB.PLZ SHARE UR MAIL ID.

        • tushar on December 4, 2011 at 12:51 PM

          Hi Priyanka,
          here is my profile GRE – Verbal – 148 , Quant – 154 , AWA – 4.0 , TOEFL – 92 , CGPA – 8.0/10
          Final year (Fourth year)B.Sc (Agriculture) from DBSKKV, Dapoli, Maharashtra
          Applying for MS in Food Science in US…
          help !

  11. Arun on October 17, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    congrats abt the marks & all the best for the pre selection process

  12. Arun on October 17, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    hey guys how much the TOEFL exam ll be conducted

    • Vamsi on October 17, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      Hi Arun,

      The cost of TOEFL test us 165 USD in India. Please do not consult any commercial centers for scheduling TOEFL. You can use your credit card to pay the test fee which costs you 165$. If you schedule your test the the help of commercial coaching centers, they will charge you extra 1000 to 1500 rupees for sure convincing you that the extra amount is for tax. There’s nothing such tax involved in this fee transaction.

      Hope it helps at-least few students…


  13. parnika on October 17, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    nice dear……… all the best for ur great future……………………

    • Arvind on October 27, 2011 at 1:27 AM

      thanks πŸ™‚

  14. raghudeep on October 16, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    cool dude ,, dats a vry gud score>>

    • Arvind on October 27, 2011 at 1:27 AM

      thank you raghudeep πŸ™‚

  15. A on October 16, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    whats with guys meeting gals at TOEFL centres?? friend of mine gave TOEFL today n aftr d test, same thing: “saw a niner; made my day!” I havent read one on GRE yet! πŸ˜‰

    • Arun on October 17, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      ya thats wht im thinking dude

      • A on October 18, 2011 at 10:57 AM

        proves GRE is wayy tougher 4 u to notice the “greenery”about u πŸ˜› @Arun

        • Arvind on October 27, 2011 at 1:26 AM

          i totally agree with that A πŸ˜›

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