How to prepare for TOEFL iBT Test (3)

Speaking

Speaking is the third section of the TOEFL iBT® test. It is a 20 minutes section with 6 tasks asking test takers to express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks.

There are 3 kinds of question formats. They are Familiar Topic, Read, Listen, Speak, and Listen and Speak. Each of the questions is given a mark of 0-5. The record of your responses will stop if the time is running out. So you may want to use every second or leave 1 or 2 second at the end. But NEVER exceed, or your responses won’t be recorded. You could find elaborate explanations and sample questions here: http://www.testden.com/toefl/speaking.htm

Task 1: Independent Speaking (1)

This task will ask you to speak from personal experience. You may need to talk about a place you’ve been, a person you know, or an important event that has happened in your life. You will have fifteen seconds to prepare your response and 45 seconds to speak.  

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Tips

  1. One effective way to prepare this task is to ‘recite,’ which means you should have an answer before you see the question. Look up some sample question, prepare several answers that can apply to different topics and memory them. This would be extremely helpful. If you have known the answer already, there is no reason to panic, right?
  2. Track the time and speed you speak when practice. Try to keep your response within 45 seconds, however, you may exceed 2 or 3 seconds, because people usually speak faster when they are nervous.
  3. If you don’t have an answer, you can take notes during this time, but try not to write out an entire response. Use your 15 seconds to come up with the main topic of your response and then think of some supporting details. Remember that 45 seconds isn’t very long, so try to be clear and concise.
  4. Sample questions:
    Describe a teacher who has influenced you and why. Be sure to include specific details and examples in your response.
    Talk about a book or other reading source that is important to you. Describe the text, and explain why it is important. Include specific details in your response.

Task 2: Independent Speaking (2)

Task 2 will ask your opinion on an issue. Usually it will present two opposing opinions, and you will need to choose the one that you think is most justified and explain why. You’ll have 15 seconds to think and 45 seconds to speak.

Tips

  1. Structure of your response could be briefly state your opinion, give two reasons why you think the way you do, then offer a conclusion of some kind.
  2. Use your time wisely. Don’t speak too much or too little.
  3. Keep your speed at a reasonable level. Not too fast or too slow.
  4. Try to keep talking and pause as little as possible.

Task 3: Integrated Speaking (1)

Task 3 will be based on a topic related to campus life. First you will read a short passage, which frequently takes the form of an announcement or clip from a newsletter. This passage usually about 100 words, and you have 45-50 seconds to read it. Then you will listen to a conversation in which two people offer their opinions about the announcement. Usually the speakers will disagree with each other, so your answer should fully demonstrate the conflicting opinions and should justify each side. You’ll have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak.

Tips

  1. Write down the title of passage and key words. Note what sort of change is being announced, and what two reasons are given for the change. That way, when you listen to the conversation, you will know what to expect, because the speaker will talk about those same exact topics.
  2. Take notes on the opinions the speakers hold and why the speaker feels the way they do. This way, you can summarize the opinions of the speakers easier. Remember that what you think should not be in your answer.
  3. Note that your answer will focus on the dialogue; the reading passage is provided mainly for background information.

Answer Template

  1. In the reading material, there is an announcement (the title of the reading passage) that the school is going to…
    And the man/woman hold a positive attitude towards it because…
    But base on the fact that…the man/woman disagree with the notice.
  2. In this set of materials, the reading passage describes a notice(the title of the reading passage)and the listening passage is a discussion by two students on_________(summarize each passage with one sentence)
    According to the reading passage, the notice explains (discusses)__________
    In the listening passage, the students discuss the notice__________
  3. In the reading material, the school is going to (the title of the reading passage)
    And in the listening passage, the man/woman feels less satisfied aboutFirstly the man/woman states thatAnd then, he/she points out that

Task 4: Integrated Speaking (2)

Task 4 is based on a lecture. The subjects includ literature, business, psychology, meteorology, biology and etc. You won’t need any prior knowledge of these subjects in order to do well on this task. You will have about 45 seconds to read a passage first. It will introduce a topic, often by defining a key term or idea with general descriptions. The speaker in the recording for speaking task 4 will always be a professor. S/he will elaborate on the topic found in the reading passage, by adding more details and giving specific examples that illustrate the information found in the passage. You will have 30 seconds to prepare, and then you will speak for 60 seconds.

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Tips

  1. Write down the title of passage, concept/definition/description of the key term and key points. That way, when you listen to the lecture, you will know what to expect, because the professor will talk about those same exact topics.
  2. Take detailed note while listening. It will be crucial to answering the question fully. You need to write down how the professor elaborates the topic, the specific details, and examples that were given in the lecture.
  3. Note that your answer will focus on the lecture; the reading passage is provided mainly for background information.

Answer Template

  1. The reading material gives a definition of…which is…
    In the lecture, the professor goes on to demonstrate it by introducing some examples.
    The first one is…
    The other is…
  2. In this set of materials, the reading passage describes________ and the listening passage is a lecture by a professor on________
    According to the reading passage ________
    In the listening passage, the professor discusses____________
  3. In the lecture, the professor mainly talked about the theory that…
    To reinforce the theory, the professor gave two reasons/examples in his speech.
    The first one is that…
    The other one is that…
    And that’s the two reasons/ examples the speaker presented to explain his idea.

Task 5: Integrated Speaking (3)

Task 5 will have only a conversation. The question will be about a problem that might arise in a student’s life. The question will ask you to identify the problem discussed in the lecture and describe the two solutions that are proposed. Then you should decide which one of the solutions you prefer and explain why. You will have 20 seconds to prepare (beginning immediately after the conversation ends) and 60 seconds to speak.

Tips

  1. Take notes on the problem’s detail, the two solutions provided and their advantages and disadvantages.
  2. Remember that this task is asking for your opinion on which solution you think is better.
  3. Your answer should follow a standard pattern. First, always start by summarizing the problem in detail. Then, mention the two solutions that are proposed in the conversation. Finally, state which option is better by declaring advantages of the solution you choose OR disadvantages of the one you did NOT choose.

Answer Template

  1. In the conversation, the woman/man is having a hard time dealing with the problem that…
    And the woman/man offers him/her two possible solutions.
    At first, he/she suggests that…However, she/he concerned that…
    Another recommendation is to… while in the man’s/woman’s opinion that…
    And from my perspective, the woman/man should go with the…idea, because…
  2. In this listening material, the woman (man) has a problem________(main points from the listening material). The man (woman) gives him or her two suggestion. One is __________As far as I am concerned, I think __________is better. First, because__________ Also, ____________.
  3. The woman/man is facing the problem thatAnd the woman/man offers him/ her two solutions. One is…… The other is… And I think the second choice is better. Because FirstAlso

Task 6: Integrated Speaking (4)

Task 6 is based on an academic topic. You will listen to a short lecture (60 to 90 seconds long), and then you will have to answer a question about the material. Once again, no prior knowledge of the subject matter is necessary to answer the question adequately, and the topic may be from a wide range of fields.

The professor will usually begin by introducing the topic or a key term, and then will spend the majority of the lecture discussing different interpretations or perspectives on it, the functions of a process, or the causes and effects of a phenomenon. You will be then be asked to summarize the main ideas of the lecture. You will have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.

Tips

  1. Take notes on the concept/definition/description of the key term and examples the professor gives.
  2. Your answer should follow a standard pattern. First, always start by summarizing the topic. Then, describe the two examples the professor gives on the topic.

Answer Template

  1. In the lecture, the professor provides two examples to illustrate the phenomenon that…
    The first one is…
    And another example is…
  2. The professor talks about…First, he says that… and he gives an example of…
    Second, he states that…and he gives an example of
  3. In the lecture, the professor discusses/argues/demonstrates…in several points/aspects.
    First, he says that…and he gives an example of…
    Second, he mentioned that…and he gives another example of…               

*Note: The templates are just for reference, they may help you organize your thoughts. You can design your own template. Just remember once you decide, use it as much as possible when practice to get familiar with it.

*Above points of view are only derived from personal experiences. Anyone is welcomed to comment and offer new advice.