The speaking section is the third part of the TOEFL® test. You’ll have about 17 minutes to answer four questions.  Remember that this section doesn’t involve just speaking!  Throughout the TOEFL speaking section you’ll need to read, listen and speak. This can be very challenging, but if you become familiar with the various question types before heading to the test center you will feel a lot more comfortable – and earn a higher score.

The first question on the test is an independent speaking question.  It is purely speaking, and requires you to give your personal opinion on a given topic.  The final three questions are called “integrated” questions and include listening and reading along with speaking.

 

Question One – Independent Speaking

TOEFL Speaking question 1 is the independent TOEFL speaking question.  It is also called the “personal choice” question.  You’ll be asked to give your opinion on a subject likely related to school, work or some other aspect of life in today’s world.

Commonly, this question asks if you agree or disagree with a given statement.  That might look like this:

“State whether you agree or disagree with the following statement. Then explain your reasons using specific details in your argument. Teachers should assign daily homework to students.”

Sometimes, the question requires you to pick between two opposing options.  In that case, it will look something like this:

“There are many different approaches to academic studies, and all of them have specific benefits. Do you prefer to study for tests in a group, or to study alone? Include details and examples to support your explanation.”

Lastly, you might get a question that refers to a hypothetical situation.  These questions are rare.  They look like this:

“Some companies have rules that forbid employees from using personal cell phones during working hours. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.”

 

Mater Guide and Samples

For help mastering this question, check out our complete guide to the independent speaking task .

Be sure to check out my collection of sample questions with recorded answers

 

Question Two – Campus Announcement

The second question is referred to as the “campus announcement” type.  This is the first of the integrated tasks.  It involves reading, listening and speaking.

First, you will read a short article. It will describe some change that is happening on a university campus or it will propose a change that the author thinks should happen.  Changes usually relate to things like classes or university facilities.  For instance, the announcement might be that a new art gallery will be built on campus.  There will be two reasons given for the change. You will have 45 seconds to read the article.  After that the article will disappear and you won’t see it again.

Next, you will hear two students talk about the reading. One of the students will agree or disagree with the change. He/she will give two reasons for their opinion.  Note that the reasons given in the conversation will match the reasons given in the conversation.  This means that if the article mentions that the old art gallery is too small, the speaker will mention that the old gallery is a perfect size.

After hearing the conversation, you will be asked to summarize what you have read and listened to.  You will have 30 seconds to prepare your answer, and 60 seconds to speak.

The question will look something like this:

“The woman expresses her opinion of the university’s plan. State her opinion and the reasons she gives for holding that opinion.”

 

Master Guide

To learn how to answer this question, check out our master guide. It includes specific instructions, samples and an updated template.

 

Question Three – General to Specific

The third TOEFL speaking question is referred to as the “General to Specific” question.  It involves reading, listening and speaking.

First, you will read a short article about an academic term or concept.  It will be about 100 words. You will have 45 seconds to read it.  When your time is up the article will disappear and you won’t see it again.

Next, you will listen to a short lecture about the same topic.  It will be about one or two minutes long. The lecture will provide one or two examples of the term from the article. This means, for example, that if the article is all about the term “echolocation” the lecture will mention two animals that use echolocation.

Finally, you will be asked to summarize the reading and lecture. You will be given 30 seconds to prepare your answer, and 60 seconds to speak.

The question will look something like this:

“Using the examples from the lecture, explain the concept of echolocation.”

 

Master Guide

For more details and a template check out our master guide to this topic.  it includes a sample question (with answer) and templates updated for 2021.

 

Question Four – Academic Lecture

The third TOEFL speaking question is called the “academic lecture” question.  It includes both listening and speaking.

First, you will listen to a short lecture on an academic topic.  The lecture usually describes how something is done.  For instance, it might describe a certain technique birds use to hunt for food.  Or it might talk about how certain fish survive in parts of the ocean without any light. it will illustrate this concept using tangible examples.  The lecture will be about 1 – 1.5 minutes long.  

When the lecture is complete you will be asked to explain the process described in it, using the examples mentioned in it.  Basically, you just need to summarize the contents of the lecture.  You will be given 20 seconds to prepare, and 60 seconds to speak.

The question will look something like this:

Using the examples of sharks and jellyfish, explain how animals cooperate with each other.

 

Master Guide

For more details and a template you can use, check out our master guide to this question.

TOEFL Speaking Guides and Templates

TOEFL Speaking Evaluation

  • Sign up today to have your practice recordings evaluated by a TOEFL speaking expert. I’ll listen to your recordings and give you feedback regarding your delivery, language use, topic development and structure.

Sample Answers

  • I’ve started to record answers to TOEFL speaking questions.  Check them out.

 

 

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