TOEFL Speaking Tips

Tips & Strategies To Ace TOEFL Speaking Section

TOEFL is an abbreviation for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is meant to test the English speaking ability of non-native speakers who wish to enroll in English speaking universities. This article intends to equip you with some tips and strategies that will enable you ace the TOEFL speaking section on the exam day.

The speaking section lasts 20 minutes and has 6 tasks. The individual tasks will be described in due course. Under the speaking section, you will listen to recorded conversations and respond by speaking into a microphone, and not speaking to a real person. After your exam, your responses will be listened to by TOEFL graders. Your responses to the questions will be scored by the TOEFL graders. The speaking section basically tests your ability to speak effectively in academic settings. You are therefore graded on how well you answer each question, your ability to speak clearly and coherently, and your vocabulary and grammar.

There are three types of TOEFL questions, two tasks to each question. Here, I will explain the tasks briefly as indicated early on, and provide tips for approaching the questions.

Tasks 1 and 2

The first two tasks are independent speaking tasks that draw on the student’s own ideas and experiences when responding. The student has 15 seconds to prepare and 45 seconds to speak when responding to each of the questions. The following tips can help you answer the questions well and boost your score:

  • Think quickly as you do not have much time to prepare for the tasks.
  • Don’t try to get the nitty-gritty of what you are going to discuss in 15 seconds. Just settle on a topic to talk about and let the details follow naturally as you speak.
  • Make up things to talk about when you run out of ideas and there is still some time left. You are not limited to discussing only facts. What matters is for you to keep speaking.

Tasks 3 and 4

These tasks require the student to use more than one skill in responding. Here, the student is required to read, listen and speak. The student is given 45 seconds to read a short passage, and then listen to a short lecture about a minute long. In 30 seconds, the student prepares and speaks for 60 seconds. The following tips will be helpful to the student in responding to the questions under these tasks:

  • Since you will have to read, listen and speak in a short period of time, it can be quite difficult or tricky here so to speak. In view of this, you should take good notes while reading and listening to the lecture, and your information well summarized. Once your preparation time starts, it will help you know how to respond without having to go back to find out what the passage said.
  • When answering the questions, pay particular attention to any differences between the information in the written passage and the information in the audio clip. These differences are often an important part of your response.
  • In your response, provide evidence from the audio clip and the written passage to back any statements you make to show you understood the information.

Tasks 5 and 6

These final TOEFL speaking tasks require students to listen, then speak. For these tasks, you will first listen to a short audio clip, and in 20 seconds prepare and speak for 60 seconds. Here again, you will find the following tips very useful:

  • Many of the tips used for answering tasks 3 and 4 are used for answering tasks 5 and 6.
  • Quickly summarize the main points of the clip in a few notes so that you are ready to speak when the time starts.
  • Quote specific portions of the audio to support your answers throughout your response.

It is believed that, the tips provided under the various tasks described above will enable you ace the TOEFL speaking section.

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