This guide will show you how to answer the first TOEFL speaking question.

Question Styles in TOEFL Speaking Question One

As of 2018, there are five main "styles" of questions that appear in part one of the speaking section.  They are, with examples:

Style One: Pure Experience

“Describe a time when you felt especially proud of an academic achievement.  Describe why you felt that way. Include details and examples to support your explanation.”

“What is the most memorable experience you have ever had while working on a task in a group? Include details and examples to support your explanation.”

Style Two:  Multiple Choice

“Which of these methods do you think is the best way to prepare for a test: 1) studying alone, 2) studying with friends, 3) asking a teacher for help. Include details and examples to support your explanation.”

“Which of the following, among campus facilities, teaching staff and reputation do you think is most important when choosing a university to attend? Include details and examples to support your choice.”

Style Three:  Giving Advice

“A friend of yours is having frequent disagreements with one of his teachers. What advice would you give to to your friend about how to solve this problem.”

“One of your friends is often late for important appointments. What advice would you give your friend about how to be more punctual?”

Style Four: Opinion

“Your university has decided to reduce the amount of money it spends on campus libraries. What is your opinion, and why? Use details and examples to explain your position.”

“What is the most important characteristic of a good parent? Use details and examples to support your opinion.”

Style Five: Advantages and Disadvantages (new)

“Some people like to take classes online instead of attending them in person. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend? What do you prefer? Use details and examples in your response.”

“Your university is planning to  make class attendance optional. What is your opinion and why? What are some advantages and disadvantages? Use details and examples in your response.”


 

Answer Template for Styles 1-4

For the first four question styles, you can almost always use the same type of template, which should look something like this:

Main Point (pick one)

  • “A time when I…”
  • “In my opinion…”
  • “I would advise my friend to…”
  • “I think that…”

Transition (optional, pick one)

  • “I feel this way for two reasons”
  • “This was ____ for two reasons”
  • “I would suggest this for two reasons.”

First Reason

  • “First…” + “For example…” (and a personal example)

Second Reason

  • “Second…” + “To be more specific…” (and an elaboration without a personal example)

 

Sample Question and Answer

(“One of your friends is often late for important appointments. What advice would you give your friend about how to solve this problem?”)

Main Point
I would advise my friend to use a smartphone to deal with this problem.

Transition
I would suggest this for two main reasons.

First Reason
First, she can use a calendar application on her phone to create a schedule of upcoming appointments. For example, I enter all of my meetings and deadlines into a free app at the beginning of each month, so I always know what is coming up. As a result, I am never caught flat-footed by some important event or get-together I have forgotten about.

Second Reason
Second, she can utilize the phone’s GPS to make sure she gets to places on time. To be specific, together with a map application the GPS will tell her the fastest way to get to where she needs to be. Moreover, it can warn her of traffic problems on the way.


 

Answer Template for Advantages and Disadvantages Questions

Introduction

  • “There are certainly both benefits and drawbacks of _____.”

Advantage

  • “First of all, one advantage is _____.” (+1-3 sentences of elaboration)

Disadvantage

  • “However, a disadvantage is _____.” (+1-3 sentences of elaboration)

Opinion

  • “Overall, though, I guess it’s better to _____.”

 

Sample Answer for Advantages and Disadvantages Questions

(“Some people like to take classes online instead of attending them in person. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend? Use details and examples in your response.”)

Introduction
There are certainly both benefits and drawbacks of choosing to study online instead of taking classes on campus.  

Advantage
First of all, an advantage is that we can get an education even if we have a full-time job.  Usually, classes on campus occur during the daytime, which makes it impossible to balance both employment and a busy academic schedule.  In contrast, if we study online we can complete them when we get home from work in the evening.

Disadvantage
However, a possible disadvantage is that we won't interact with classmates.  Sharing our ideas and viewpoints with like-minded peers is a big part of an education, but this obviously won't happen if we don't go to a university in person.  

Opinion
Overall, though, I guess it is better to take online classes.


 

Video Version

 

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Read on for help with TOEFL Speaking question two.