Changes in Chapter 4 – The Speaking Section

Moving along, here are changes to the fourth chapter of the new Official Guide to the TOEFL. Of course the old question types (1 and 5) have been removed, but that’s not what this series is about!

Page 165 – 176: The four speaking questions are all given actual names now.  They are: Paired Choice, Fit and Explain, General/Specific, Summary.  That’s nice, and I will likely modify my guides to refer to the official names of each question. That said, I don’t really know why they call the second one “Fit and Explain.”

Page 165: The description of the first speaking question has been modified slightly.  It now specifically mentions that you might be asked if you agree or disagree with a prompt, and a sample of that is given.  This is a great change.

Page 166: The “tip” has been expanded.  The new part is: “But don’t try to write out a full response because you won’t have time, and the raters scoring your response want to hear you speaking, not reading aloud.

Page 167 (important): There is a new tip.  This one will be controversial.  It says: “Do not memorize responses before the test, especially ones that you get from the Internet, or from test preparation instructors who say this is a good idea.  It is not a good idea, and it will lower your score.  Raters will recognize a memorized response because the rhythm, intonation, and even the content of the response will be very different from a spontaneous response.  Memorized responses are easy to identify.”

Page 185 (important): The SpeechRater is mentioned: “SpeechRater primarily measures features described in the Speaking rubrics under Language Use and Delivery.”  Pay attention to the “primarily” weasel word.  This means that the SpeechRater does, to some extent, grade your topic development as well!



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