Should You Use Speaking Templates on the TOEFL?

I’m often asked if it is a good idea to use speaking templates on the test.  Some students fear that graders will see the same templates again and again and punish students for using them.  This may be true, so if you are going to use templates make sure that you are using fresh templates.  That is, make sure you use templates that have been developed recently… not a set that has been in textbooks for years and years.

With that in mind, I recently completed another revision of my own collection of templates.  Not only are these brand new, but they reflect all of my most recent research and ideas about how the test is put together.  The page also includes video lectures about all of the integrated speaking questions.

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below.

Today’s Sample TOEFL Essay: People are Living Longer

Today’s sample essay is about reasons why people are living longer.  This is actually the second time I have answered this question, as I completely forgot that I had already written on the topic last year.  Whoops.

I’ll try to write a few more this week, but will be mainly focusing on getting a new video online.

What is an Average TOEFL Score?

An average TOEFL score is eighty points.

Or at least that is what my research indicates.  Today’s article summarizes average scores based on level of study, gender and mother tongue.  Let me know what you think.

Five New Sample TOEFL Essays

I’ve published five new sample essays since my last update.  The most recent essay is about whether is it better to learn with a teacher or to learn alone.  Enjoy!  Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to produce essays about.

Book Review: Cracking the TOEFL 2016

I’ve started another new series.  This one is book reviews of popular TOEFL textbooks.  First up is a review of “Cracking the TOEFL 2016” from Princeton Review.  Click the link for a complete review, but the short version is that it is a better-than-average book with lots of practice questions, but a few flaws in the integrated writing section.

TOEFL Requirements for CalTech

I’m a bit bored of writing sample essays, so my new series is about compiling the TOEFL requirements for popular universities.  In my experience, it is difficult to get all of this information in a centralized location, so perhaps some concise guides will help students out.  It is also necessary to simply contact some of the universities because their websites are fairly incomplete.

Today’s guide is all about CalTech.  Enjoy, engineers!

New Sample Essay: Why do People Visit Museums

Wow!  I’ve finally posted a new sample essay.   Sorry about not posting any of these lately.  I was busy traveling for all of October (and a bit of September) and quite busy.  I’m home now, so there should be a few more of these coming up.

Today’s question asks “why do people visit museums when they go somewhere new?”  Find it here.

How to Write a TOEFL Essay Introduction (Video)

A new video is online!

This one is all about how to begin your TOEFL essay with a great introductory paragraph.  It is similar to the video I made about how to write the complete independent essay, but it goes into more detail and provide some helpful tips and shortcuts.

I’ll try to make a video about writing good body paragraphs as soon as I can.

Most Common TOEFL Writing Mistakes

I just published an article listing what I think are the most common mistakes that students make when writing the independent (type 2) TOEFL essay.  I divided the list into mistakes made before, during and after the test.  Next week I’ll write about the most common mistakes made on the integrated (type 1) essay.  Let me know if you have any feedback!

New TOEFL Essay Evaluation Video!

I just posted a new essay evaluation video over on YouTube.  This one has a lot of comments about writing good topic sentences.  It will show you how to write a topic sentence with a clear topic and a good controlling idea.  If you want your own essay evaluated, just follow the link in the video!

TOEFL Resources


This blog complements TOEFL Resources, a collection of guides to the TOEFL iBT.

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