Test Preparation

How To Prepare For TOEFL Speaking Section?

How To Prepare For TOEFL Speaking Section?

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Get effective tips to ace the TOEFL speaking section and give a boost to your overall scores. Find here preparation tips, study resources, practice questions, and much more!

Madhuwrita Nandi
Updated on:  07 Sep 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 5K | 7  min read

TOEFL Speaking section tests the communication skills of the candidate. It has 4 tasks with a total time limit of 17 minutes. Candidates have to share their opinion on a familiar topic based on reading and listening tasks. It may have accents of different native-speakers of the language.


The Speaking Section has 2 Types -

  • list items Independent - The first task, consists of an independent speaking task involving students’ own ideas and opinions.
  • list items Integrated -  The remaining tasks are integrated ones that require the student to read and listen, and then speak.  

TOEFL speaking section is marked on a scale of 0-4 for each task, which is then scaled to a value of 30.


What are the TOEFL Speaking Section Topics?

TOEFL Speaking topics test the ability of students to interact efficiently in the English language in an academic environment, both inside as well as outside the classroom. Students are asked to speak on a variety of topics. As discussed above, there are two types of speaking tasks - Independent Task and Integrated Task. 

  • list items Independent Task - It is a personal choice-based task. Students will have to make and defend their personal choice between a set of two contrasting thoughts and actions. There will be a 15-second preparation time, and the student will have 45 seconds to respond. 
  • list items Integrated Task - Integrated task requires the students to integrate their understanding of the language - employing a combination of listening, reading and speaking skills, or listening and speaking skills - just as in a classroom environment and outside. There are 3 tasks in this section. 

For the first task, there will be a reading passage of about 75-100 words followed by a 60-80-second listening passage. The student will have to summarize the speaker’s opinion given in the reading passage. The passage will be related to campus-based issues (situations/events related to university/college).

Read more about: TOEFL Syllabus

The next task is related to the academic course. There will be a reading passage of 75-100 words, which broadly defines an academic term, concept or process. This will be followed by a 60-90 seconds lecture excerpt that illustrates the academic topic in the reading passage. The student will have to combine and convey the important information from both, reading passage and lecture excerpt.

The last task is again related to the academic course. There will be a 90-120-second lecture passage about an academic topic with concrete examples to illustrate the topic. The student will be required to summarize the lecture and demonstrate an understanding of the link between the overall topic and the examples. 

NOTE -TOEFL Speaking section requires candidates to listen to the question via headphones and speak their answer in a microphone. Since the question is not written down, most students stray off-topic during answering, and this lowers their score considerably. Preparing certain topics beforehand would help you stay on topic and answer as skillfully and correctly as possible. There are 4 tasks, which are to be done in order. It is imperative to keep your headphones on at all times as there will be instructions from the narrator. 


How To Prepare For TOEFL Speaking Section?

TOEFL speaking practice is not difficult but surely needs some effort. For the Speaking section, speak the language and speak lots of it. 


TOEFL Speaking Exercises to Prepare for the Section

General Speaking Activities - General prep for the TOEFL Speaking section involves communicating with your friends and family in English. This would help you in forming a broad understanding of the language by forming your opinion in English or translate it as you speak. Try to learn idiomatic and informal speech by listening to a native English speaker. Focus closely on their expressions, pronunciation, word stress, intonation pattern, and pauses. The more you get used to talking in English, the better your response will be during the exam.

Targeted Preparation - 

  • list items Independent Speaking - Independent Task requires the candidate to make or defend a personal choice. To practice for this section, you can make a list of familiar topics - it could be academic or non-academic - and speak about them. Practice speaking about how your day went and what your plans for the next day are.. Describe images more than once using different adjectives, adding more detail each time and try to do it faster. Narrate a story to several people each time aiming for different word-choices. For more fluency, you should prepare certain topics that would require you to collate and present some information to support your opinion. Make recommendations or state your opinions and give a detailed explanation as to why your idea is the best. Repeat your responses to build fluency.
  • list items Integrated Speaking - Integrated Speaking tasks include reading, listening and speaking on campus situations and academic topics. To prepare for the Read/Listen/Speak section, there are some general methods to practice. You can read a newspaper article or listen to a talk on any topic that interests you and form a 1-minute speech on it. Try forming an opinion, think of 2 reasons to support your opinion and 1 reason/detail to support each point. Start by preparing familiar topics and gradually move on to unfamiliar topics. Read English lessons from literature books and try answering questions at the back of the chapter. To practice the Listen/Speak section, you can find listening and reading material on the same topic. The views expressed in both materials can be different. Try preparing separate summaries on both the material or combine the information and explain how they relate. Practice paraphrasing the material in your own words several times using a different grammatical structure each time.  

What are the TOEFL Speaking Section Resources to Prepare from?

Online Resources - ETS is the best guide to prepare for the exam. Students can register and access free online material to practice. Click here to access the study material. 
TOEFL also has an official YouTube channel to help students prepare. For the channel, click here.

Offline Resources -

  • list items TOEFL iBT® Test Prep Planner
  • list items The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test
  • list items Official TOEFL iBT® Tests Volume 1
  • list items Official TOEFL iBT® Tests, Volume 2

TOEFL Speaking Practice Questions 

To ace this section, it is important to practice as much as you can. Given below are links to TOEFL sectional practice questions and mock test which you should practice to strengthen your grip over the section -

  • list items https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/free_practice_test 
  • list items https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/practice_sets/ 

How is the TOEFL Speaking Section Scored?

The speaking section tests a candidate's ability to form and fluently communicate their opinion in a limited time period. The score is based on 3 factors - delivery, language use and topic development. 

  1. list items Delivery - Delivery of the answer is judged on the following parameters - how clearly the candidate is speaking, if the intonation used to convey the meaning is correct, and if the speech is easy to understand and follow. Minor lapses or pauses should not alter the meaning. 
  2. list items Language Use - The candidate should deliver the answer in well-constructed sentences and use appropriate vocabulary and grammatical structure with ease. 
  3. list items Topic Development - This judge how well the candidate covers the subject matter put forward in the question. The candidate should be able to convey summaries, explanations, and opinions. Use of both concrete and abstract information should be there. A coherent and logical answer will ensure a higher score.   

How to Prepare for TOEFL - General Tips

  1. list items It is important to start the preparation for the exam well in advance. The TOEFL Exam syllabus is quite vast, and the candidate should start the preparation at least 3 to 6 months in advance. 
  2. list items Devote time to each section equally. It will be beneficial to set up a time-table to focus on each section. Personalize your time-table. Focus on your weak points.
  3. list items Be regular in your practice. Achieving a good TOEFL score will require you to revise and practice the topics regularly. Use high-quality resources to practice.
  4. list items Solve as many TOEFL speaking samples as you can. This will help you evaluate your preparation and highlight your weak and strong points.
  5. list items Consult teachers/mentors for doubts. Have clarity on basic concepts.


Preparation Tips one Week Before the Exam

  1. list items Keep the intensity of your preparation constant.
  2. list items Do a mix of mock tests and specific reviews. 
  3. list items Revise your basic concepts.
  4. list items Rest is important. Don’t tire yourself out before the exam. 

Points to Keep in Mind During the Exam

  1. list items It is important to be well-rested before the exam. 
  2. list items Reach at least 30 minutes before the exam. 
  3. list items Read all of the choices in Multiple Choice Questions. 
  4. list items Take copious notes for each section.
  5. list items Answer every question. There is no negative marking. So even if you have to guess, there is still a 25% chance of choosing the right answer. 

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To ensure a good TOEFL score, it is essential for students to prepare every section thoroughly. There are no right or wrong answers as it is a subjective section, and therefore, it becomes all the more crucial to practice the Speaking section as much as you can. The difficulty of the question depends on your understanding of the language, your vocabulary, and how correctly you use the grammar. So practice and practice as much as you can. 

If you need further assistance regarding TOEFL preparation, you are most welcome to give us a call. We are affiliated with top TOEFL prep institutes, and if you want, we can get you in touch with them for zero cost!

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