The TOEFL Speaking exam consists of six tasks: two independent and four integrated. It’s probably one of the trickiest parts of the test, but if you prepare for it well, it will go smoothly! In the two independent tasks, test-takers answer questions related to their opinion on familiar topics. In two of the integrated tasks, test-takers read a short passage, listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life, and answer a question by combining appropriate information from the text and the talk.
How to Ace the TOEFL Speaking exam
In the two remaining tasks, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to a question about what they heard. In the integrated tasks, test-takers are evaluated on their ability to effectively convey information from the reading and listening material. A small amount of time is given for preparation.
All the questions are evaluated on a score from 0 to 4 on the three following points. While you practice, use them to evaluate yourself.
- Delivery: How well does your speech flow? How is your pronunciation? Are you speaking clearly? Do you use proper intonation?
- Language use: What is the level of vocabulary that you use to express your ideas? Do you use complex sentence structures? Do you vary the verbs, pronouns, and tenses where appropriate?
- Topic development: How fully do you answer the question? Do you express your ideas clearly? Are they connected together well?
|Question||Type||Preparation Time||Answer Time|
about academic courses
about academic courses
Question 1: Listen to a passage, and then talk about a person, place, or object familiar to you.
Question 2: Two situations or opinions are described. State and explain which one you prefer and why.
Tips for questions 1 & 2:
- Organize your thoughts during the preparation time.
- Use connecting words: for instance, on the other hand, but, so, moreover…
- Practice giving your opinion in English about anything in 45 seconds. Record yourself and try to figure out your mistakes.
Question 3: Read and listen to a passage about a campus-related topic. Explain the opinion you listened to in the recording. Summarize and combine information from both sources.
Question 4: Read a passage about an academic subject. Then, listen to part of a lecture about this same academic subject. Explain the relationship between the two and how the discussion illustrates or counters the concept in the reading.
Question 5: Listen to a conversation about a campus problem. Describe the problem, and then give your opinion on the solution.
Tips for questions 3 & 5:
- Identify the opinion of the speaker and summarize what he or she said.
- For question 5, use most of the time to explain why you think your opinion is better.
- Pay attention to your talking speed — not too fast, not too slow. If you finish before the 50 minutes, use the last few seconds to briefly summarize the main point, not using words already said if possible.
Question 6: Listen to part of a lecture in which a teacher is explaining a concept or highlighting an issue. Explain the main concept or issue, using the points made in the lecture.
Tips for questions 4 & 6:
- You need to know basic academic vocabulary, but there is no need for specialized knowledge in any subject.
- Keep using the words that you are most familiar with. There is no need to get fancy and risk using the wrong word.
- Jot down ideas for your answer while you listen to the question; you’ll save a few seconds.
If you’re feeling anxious, don’t worry. That’s normal! Since anxiety can impact your performance, try to keep a clear head. Learn a simple guide to forming an answer ahead of time to give you more confidence on the test day. This general layout can serve as a template for your answers:
- State who/what/where/when (5-10 seconds)
- a- Reason 1 for choice (15-20 seconds)
b- Provide details
- a- Reason 2 for choice (15-20 seconds)
b- Provide details
Conclusion (5-10 seconds)
Try timing yourself with a watch when you practice. You’ll grow accustomed to thinking on the spot. A little extra effort at the beginning will make it easier on the big day of your TOEFL speaking exam!
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