There are six things you can do right away to improve your TOEFL speaking score:
- Learn how the questions are designed
- Learn how to structure your answers
- Learn how your answers will be scored
- Get some Accurate Practice Questions
- Improve your accent and delivery
- Hire a good teacher
You are probably reading this blog post because you sent me a message asking “how can I increase my TOEFL score?” That is a hard question to answer if I haven’t ever heard you speak, but I will talk about each of the above strategies one at a time.
Learn How the TOEFL Speaking Questions are Designed
It is important to know that ETS designs the four speaking questions the same way every week. There are really just a few minor variations that you might face. Learning about these designs is the first thing you need to do as you prepare for the TOEFL, as it will make your job on test day a lot easier.
Do this by checking out my playlist on the 2019 version of the TOEFL speaking section. Studying these videos might improve your performance in the “topic delivery” section of the scoring rubric (see below).
Learn How You Should Structure Your Answers (Using Templates)
Templates can be a controversial topic in the TOEFL world, but if you are struggling to put together your answers they can really help you. You can find some templates for each of the questions on my site. Note that if you have a good teacher you might not need any templates.
Learn How Your Answers Will Be Scored
You should understand that each of your answers will be given a score in three categories of equal value. Read about them by consulting the TOEFL Speaking Rubric.
For a more detailed look at how your will be graded, watch the following video.
Update: Since August 1 of 2019 the SpeechRater software has been used to judge the delivery of student answers. you can read about this right here.
Get Some Accurate Practice Questions
You absolutely need to practice with some accurate speaking questions. Answer as many as you can, and record your answers so you can review them. Here’s what I recommend:
- The Official Guide to the TOEFL (four good tests)
- The Official iBT Test Collection Volume 1 (five good tests)
- The Official iBT Test Collection Volume 2 (five good tests)
- TSTPrep’s Test Pack (10 good tests, online) – try the coupon code “goodine10off” for a discount.
I don’t recommend using:
- Anything from Kaplan
- Anything from Barrons
- The Cambridge Guide to the TOEFL
Improve your Accent and Pronunciation
Delivery counts for one third of your score so you should try to improve your accent, pronunciation and intonation as much as possible.
Sadly, this is hard to do on your own. A teacher can help (see below), but you might also benefit from activities like repetition, shadowing and chorusing. A fun resource for this is PlayPhrase.me. That site should be easy enough to figure out – just click on the play button and repeat the same phrase until you run out of clips. I believe that repeating the same phrase a few dozen times is a good way to reduce the presence of your native accent and to improve your overall pronunciation. This might improve your performance in the “delivery” section of the rubric.
If you want to get some free feedback on your delivery, I recommend joining the 30 Day Speaking Challenge from Huggins International.
Get a Good TOEFL Teacher
If you really want to improve your score, you should hire a tutor to work with you one on one. They will be able to help you improve your score in all three sections of the rubric. I recommend the following experts:
- Katie Mary – Houseoftoefl@gmail.com
- Miguel Marcano – email@example.com
- Jonathan Huggins – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Danijela Jovanovic – proesltestprep.com
- Josh MacPherson – tstprep.com
- John Healy – Study WIth It
- Jane Birkenhead – Birkenhead English
- Sierra Yohalem – email@example.com
- Sherlen Tanner – TOEFL iBT Academy
Mention that you were referred by Michael at “TOEFL Resources” for preferential treatment (maybe).